The disputes between Airbnb and the hotel industry continue to be an ongoing battle, but things escalated last week when an ad campaign backed by the Hotel Association of New York City suggested that short-term rentals could be used to host terrorists like Salman Abedi, the bomber behind the Manchester attack in May.
The 30-second ad, which features just text overlays and an ominous music, is a slideshow of photos from the Manchester bombing, as it was reported that Abedi had “massive packages” sent to the address he was staying at before the attack. The problem, however, is that address was not an Airbnb rental unit.
New York Daily News reports that the NYC hotel association campaign costs nearly half a million dollars to run for 10 days during morning and evening television spots on major networks like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News.
Three days after the fearmongering ad launched, Airbnb posted a counter-ad called “Scare Tactics.” In its response, Airbnb featured interviews of a Brooklyn-based host who claims the service has helped him earn additional income to offset the high costs of living in New York City. The back-and-forth feels like it’s straight out of local political campaigns.
“The fact is Airbnb had nothing to do with the tragic events in Manchester and we are one of the only hospitality companies that runs background checks on all US residents, both hosts and guests,” Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels told the Daily News, adding that terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks in NYC and 2015 Paris attacks stayed in hotels.
The Hotel Association of New York City’s ad claims Airbnb “refuses” to provide law enforcements with specific listing addresses, though it also did not clarify which legislation would tackle this issue. The campaigns add to a series of ongoing battles within New York, with the state banning short-term rental listings last fall only to be sued by Airbnb, then settling to enforce the law against hosts, not Airbnb itself.