Cue the music for the A-Team.
In response to a slew of horrifying incidents, where people had their apartments trashed or damaged by renters using Airbnb, the San Francisco based online rental service company has created a team of enforcers to make sure that kind of stuff doesn’t happen.
It’s these kinds of highly personal, often tricky, disputes to which now Airbnb devotes 50 investigative agents on its trust and safety team, which is led by former U.S. Army intelligence officer Phil Cardenasand former government investigator Anna Steele.
That kind of background is common on the team, although it is not Airbnb’s internal police force, Cardenas said. “We’re not hiring for security guards,” he said. “We’re people-people.”
So even though these guys are ex-military, they’re not there to crack skulls but rather to resolve disputes and remind users to treat the apartments they rent with respect.
The trust and safety team at Airbnb handles caseloads of user conflicts, doing everything from monitoring new reservations for trigger words like “Western Union” or personally calling every group of eight or more people who made a reservation in New Orleans during the Super Bowl this year to wish them a good time and remind them to respect their hosts.
In case you weren’t aware of what the fuss was all about, Airbnb got in a lot of trouble in the summer of 2011 when, in a nightmarish incident, the home of one Airbnb host was ransacked along with her property and identity stolen. The host, under the name EJ blogged about the crime along with Airbnb’s less than stellar response to it. The ensuing bad publicity may have forced Airbnb to step up its efforts in doing something about the vandalism incidents, which has now led to the creation of the enforcement team. At least its a physical move rather than just platitudes about better service, so it looks like they’re taking this one seriously.