Safety a priority, says Airbnb
Homestay giant Airbnb has hit back at claims by the South Canterbury hospitality sector that health and safety issues were not sufficiently addressed at its hosts’ residences.
Brent Thomas, the company’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, said safety was a priority and all hosts had to certify that they followed all local laws and regulations.
‘‘Every listing on Airbnb clearly states the specific safety amenities it has, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers and first aid kits.
‘‘We also work with hosts to keep themselves, their homes and their guests safe by delivering home safety workshops with trusted experts and offer hosts free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.’’
Thomas said the homestay provider had its own Trust and Safety department which had offices all over the world.
‘‘Our team is made up of engineers, 24/7 response agents, data scientists, product managers, designers, lawenforcement liaisons, crisis managers, and victim-advocacy specialists, in addition to policy, privacy, cyber security, insurance, and fraud experts – all working together to keep our community safe,’’ he said.
Thomas said given incidents such as the hotel fire in Napier last year, more work needed to be conducted across the board throughout the travel and tourism industry.
Hospitality Association South Canterbury accommodation sector chairman and Avenue Motor Lodge owner Mark Offen said last week that health and safety issues at homestay providers should be urgently addressed by the authorities.
Offen said ensuring the safety of guests should be a priority but authorities overlooked this with homestay accommodation.
He said a building warrant of fitness was an example of an annual cost which was compulsory for commercial accommodation providers but not imposed on homestay rivals.
Thomas said the homestay provider was constantly working to improve its platform and policies ‘‘because even one incident is one too many’’.
All guests and hosts globally were screened thoroughly and were requested to ‘‘follow our high community standards’’.
‘‘Our review system enables you to see what other community members have said about a potential guest, host, or home,’’ he said.
‘‘Guests and hosts publicly review each other and can only do so after the reservation is complete, so you know the feedback is based on actual experiences,’’ Thomas said.
A WorkSafe spokesperson said yesterday that those providing accommodation through Airbnb or Book a Bach-type arrangements had obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
‘‘Accommodation providers are not a priority area for WorkSafe and will therefore very rarely require an assessment visit from us. WorkSafe may become involved if an incident occurs.’’