Getting ready for those in need

About Nathan Blecharczyk

Airbnb Disaster Response

Airbnb hosts open their homes to guests all over the world every day. Together, we’ve built a community founded on hospitality, trust, respect, and generosity.

When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, Airbnb hosts in New York opened doors and cooked meals for those left stranded. When we heard the stories, we were humbled, inspired, and challenged to build a way to scale these generous acts throughout our community and the world.

The first thing we did was to hack a way to take in displaced neighbors for free. We made some key changes to the Airbnb website to ensure hosts could share their space free of charge, and ultimately provided over 1,400 free or discounted properties during the storm.

But making those changes took more time than we would like, and it was difficult to get word of this new option to those without electricity. In an emergency every moment is precious, and natural disasters are difficult to predict. This got us thinking: how can we do more, more efficiently in the future? Emergency housing is an incredibly complex problem to solve, but our community is amazingly generous and spans across 192 countries around the world. What steps could we take right now to be prepared?

We sought out advice from experts including IDEOSan Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management, and other organizations. Then our team got to work and built a tool that can be activated anywhere in the world in 30 minutes or less.

Our new Disaster Response Tool will do the following:

  • Allow local residents with extra space to host those in need.
  • Allow existing hosts to donate their rooms for free to those in need.
  • Make all Airbnb bookings in areas affected by a natural disaster fee-free.
  • Email hosts in the affected area, asking them if they are able to help.
  • Connect guests to hosts that have space to offer in the affected area via a dynamic landing page.
  • Provide Airbnb’s 24/7 customer support, Trust & Safety tools, Host Guarantee and other services regularly available to Airbnb hosts.
  • Provide general disaster response information to guests and hosts.

The best part of Airbnb is the hosts and guests who share their spaces and their experiences with travelers from around the world. We have been amazed by the kindness and generosity of the people who are a part of our community. We hope this new tool will make it easier for all of us to help our neighbors in times of need.



About Nathan Blecharczyk

Speak Your Mind


Share your thoughts

Please keep it civilized and relevant. Comments are moderated, so you may not see yours immediately.


  1. patricia tolmie

    I have had two reservations for apartments in Tribeca, NYC cancelled after agreements were made with owners.
    I had already sent in my payment on credit card and received an email that upon cancellation that my credit would be restored to my card within 5 days.
    Well, 7 days later I am beginning to worry.

    What’s up at airbnb????

    Patricia Tolmie

  2. Hazel Goldman

    Well done Airbnb. I am proud to be part of this international community and applaud the work you have put in to creating this tool. This is a very powerful way of working and and allows individuals to reach across boundaries, be part of a positive response and make a difference. And well done to all the Airbnb community who have responded so brilliantly in time s of trouble.

  3. Annie Cantle

    Living in Australia, when the Japanese Tsunami and other catastrophic events took place, we could only watch events unfold on TV. Wouldn’t it be great if in this global place, families could be relocated, hosted for up to 12 months to a safe place if required.
    Local relocations are wonderful and much needed. Congratulations Air BnB xo

  4. Hannah

    Wow, that’s…. that’s pretty cool. I realize I’m a little late to the party, but GO, AIRBNB!!

  5. Randy A Griebenow

    Congrats on the community response to the Superstorm Sandy. in addition to the
    verified badge and others can see tremendous opportunity to bridge the gap in all kinds of personal family disasters, why not create an individual badge for Hosts that would like to assist families traveling is a state of tragity or individual emergancy !
    like family in a rush to return home to visit a loved one who is suddenly ill.

    I would like some kind of vote on a badge for last minute travelers to be able to connect with “hearted” hosts who welcome the connect in times of emergancies ! ! !

    This is truly the mission statement of what Airbnb is all about … right

    Randy / Superhost @ Olinda Bonsai Guesthouse – Maui