Airbnb: from an innovator to a follower?

Airbnb is often mentioned when people are looking for an example of a new, successful business concept. And rightly so! However, the company’s reputation has suffered due to an issue it was insufficiently aware of. The tide can turn very quickly indeed. Is the company taking too long in responding to this situation?

What is the matter with Airbnb? It has become known that there are hosts making use of the Airbnb platform who deny non-white people access to their accommodations. Airbnb has known about this for about a year. The company delayed far too long in responding to this issue, underestimating the impact it would have on its reputation and license to operate. It is only logical that other platforms have started tapping into the same market in response to this, such as (for dark-skinned travellers) and (for just about anyone).

We can only wait and see how this will affect Airbnb, but the issue could easily have been prevented by regarding social developments and customer experiences from different perspectives and anchoring these into the organisation through its operations and communication. This would have enabled Airbnb to avoid getting negative reactions from people who rent out accommodations through the Airbnb platform; in this case associated with racism.

The issue has caused Airbnb irrevocable reputational damage and could easily lead to less growth, shrinkage, a lower market share or a lower turnover.

Conclusion: this reputational damage could easily have been avoided if Airbnb had obtained clearer insight into the contextual situation, better estimated the impact of this issue and responded to it immediately. This would have prevented its Licence to Operate from being undermined.

MonkeyBlue provides organisations with the necessary insight for dealing with their surrounding environment adroitly and in an adult fashion, and into the impact they have on their sphere of operations. Next, we will set to work, together with you, to tackle these issues as quickly as possible. Your continuity will only benefit from this!

Get in touch with MonkeyBlue if you want to know more: send an email to or give us a call on +31 (0)20-4161116. Ask for Nanda Stouthamer or Maurits de Koning.