Airbnb is a great way to find inexpensive accommodations while traveling, but the company recently created a new tool to help victims of disasters. The company has just launched a Disaster Response tool that will ask Airbnb hosts if they’d like to offer up their rooms at no cost when disaster strikes. Available rooms will then be listed on a special page, connecting displaced victims with free places to stay.
Airbnb was an integral tool to help New Yorkers find shelter after Superstorm Sandy ravaged much of the city, leaving many without homes. Over 1,400 Airbnb members offered up their rooms for free to Sandy victims, helping many of the displaced feel at home after losing everything.
The new disaster response tool will launch thirty minutes after a disaster strikes, sending a mass email to Airbnb users asking them if they’d like to participate in the program to offer free accommodation to impending victims. The listings will then be compiled and easily accessed for those looking for a place to stay if their homes were rendered unlivable because of a hurricane, earthquake, or even an incident like the hundreds who were barred from getting to their hotels after the Boston Marathon shooting.
Airbnb created the system in hopes of connecting more hosts and guests in times of need. But what remains to be seen is whether the service will help New Yorkers in the future like it did after Sandy, since Airbnb has just been outlawed in New York City.