Airbnb recently beefed up its customer service staff with a team of 50 investigative agents who track down guests who abuse their hosts' generosity.
The move came after the company got tired of seeing its brand name associated with a tiny number of horror stories, in which people's homes are trashed by unruly guests, that are not representative of most experiences (including one in which a $2.5 million condo was trashed in Toronto a couple of weeks ago.) Airbnb also offers hosts a $1 million guarantee against rental disasters.
"The initial Airbnb customer service operation was humble: one guy and his cell phone. The guy, in fact, was Joe Gebbia, one of the company's founders. Whenever a customer had a problem, they'd call the customer service line, get patched through to Gebbia’s phone, and he'd work with them to fix the problem," a company spokesperson told us.
Now, Airbnb has hundreds of agents available via phone, chat and email, 24/7, in every time zone and in 30 different languages. Monroe Labouisse, director of customer service, told us:
"At Airbnb we aspire to provide highly personal service and to be very available. ... We want to give people peace of mind by being there for them when they need us. We want to be the front desk that travels with them."
Here are a few examples of above-and-beyond customer service from the company:
- When an Airbnb host cancelled the cottage Shay Fan had booked for her bridesmaids on the eve her wedding, Airbnb pitched in a $1,000 credit to help her find a new place to stay. Wedding rescued!
- Adam Jackson discovered that one of his guests had stolen a pizza cutter from his kitchen, so he tweeted about it and Airbnb overnighted a new one to him with a cute apology note.
- Jessica Dowdy tweeted that she had booked with Airbnb in Seattle to see a Pearl Jam gig, and the company sent her a T-shirt.
- Maia Mittner tweeted that she wished she had a stroller for their upcoming guests, who had a young child. The Airbnb team had one express-delivered before the guests checked in the next day.
- One user had to cancel her reservation because she needed to look after her sister, who hurt her leg. So Airbnb sent the sister a bed tray and a get-well card.
- Kyle Matthews was going to Los Angeles to attend a fundraiser for a pediatric cancer charity. Airbnb noticed -- and made a donation to the cause.
- Eric Mathiason passed a hosting milestone -- so Airbnb sent him a "Legendary Host" trophy cup. "Classy and hilariously embarrassing!" Mathiason said.
- Airbnb noticed that one host had basked her guests fresh bread -- so they sent her a bread recipe book.
- Airbnb noticed that host Martina Bohn liked big fancy hats. So they sent her a hat-themed guest book.
- During SXSW this year, Airbnb offered to deliver coffee to Airbnb residents who tweeted at them.
- Airbnb noticed that comic book fan Sarah Forde was on her way to an anime convention -- so they sent her a gift voucher for a local comics store.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
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