SHAME: New York Hotels Denigrate 9/11 in New Political Ad Against Airbnb

I’m not a fan of Airbnb because they don’t do a great job standing behind reservations. In fairness, hotels overbook and walk guests too.

However I’m also not a fan of the disingenuous scare campaigns hotels band together to use in lobbying to get government to shut down the competition, to get people to narc on their neighbors to regulators, and running sting operations against unsuspecting hosts.

New York’s hotel industry goes too far in having a Richard Anderson moment.

New York City was the primary target on 9/11. If there’s any place that the event holds enduring meaning, it’s Manhattan. Using terrorism for political purposes trivializes the lives lost in the attack on the World Trade Center that day, including people that I knew.

None of that stops the Hotel Industry Association, in conjunction with UNITE Here and AFL-CIO Local 6 accusing Airbnb of enabling terrorism.

It cites media coverage that bomber Salman Abedi used a short-term rental apartment [in Manchester, England] he found through a local online real estate agent and had “massive packages” sent to him at that location — which was not an Airbnb unit.

Terrorists, it seems, don’t use hotels. Oh, wait, the 9/11 hijackers spent the nights leading up to their attacks in hotels.

The major hotels chains supporting this efforts should be ashamed, and their executives should apologize. Because in Manhattan terrorism is something that happened and not something to be trivialized for self-serving ends.

(HT: @jasonclampet)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] SHAME: New York Hotels Denigrate 9/11 in New Political Ad Against Airbnb by View From The Wing. Disgusting ad attack ad and like Gary mentions it doesn’t even make sense given that terrorists have stayed at hotels in the lead up to attacks and that the attacker in Manchester didn’t even use a property listed on AirBnB. Whoever approved this ad and put it together should be ashamed of themselves. […]


  1. So this is not a defense of this ad but there are more things wrong with Airbnb than their terrible lack of guarantee on reservations.

    They make zero effort to verify if the person posting a unit on the site has the legal right to do so. This does create potential security issues at multi family properties. There is a pending class action lawsuit regarding this issue right now.

    When one of our tenants asks a cable company to drill holes or run wires, the cable company requires a letter from us authorizing them to do the work. When a tenant (in breach of the rental agreement) lists a unit with Airbnb, there is no requirement for them to verify they have a legal right to do so.

    Airbnb, like Uber tends to be an arrogant company.

    Companies with that attitude eventually pay the price.

  2. I’ve used Airbnb in the past and the hosts were nothing but gracious, yet I still don’t support nor use the service any longer – there is absolutely a problem with the externalized cost of being an Airbnb neighbor (I know because for a little while I was one).

  3. You should correct your post to read “Unite Here” versus “UNITED here”. I doubt UNITED would want to think you are insinuating they were involved with this.

  4. Couldn’t agree more; the way this ad attempts to leverage Islamophobia to attack a competitor is truly despicable. Kudos to you for using your platform to call attention to it. I’d be really curious if any of your contacts at the major hotel chains had any comments on this — might make for a good follow-up piece…

  5. 9/11 attackers stayed in a Park Inn outside Boston. I rode past that place the night before. Random trivia.

  6. For those who support airbnb its easy to do that when you don’t live in a city with a shortage of affordable housing and many people live in apartment buildings where random strangers would be rotating through every few days in these rentals doing god knows what. Lot of people who live here don’t want this crap going on and tourists have been seriously hurt and victimized because they took airbnb apartments in neighborhoods that are not safe and because they are not from here they had no idea of the level of danger. This video was shady but there are real reasons why this isn’t appropriate for a place like NYC where it can work in other places.

  7. Most Americans are effing hypocrites. The ones that are not are probably poor, standing on the corner being run over by progress.

  8. I used AirBnB often, including a three month stay right now in New York. It has democratized long term travel in much better conditions than hostels (which I have not had good experiences with) for the most part. Being a neighbor does present an externality, but that could perhaps be offset by an additional rental fee that goes to the neighbors.

    Trying to kill a service that has helped people stay in the apartments in the face of rising rents, make a living as a landlord easier than ever, and bring people closer to local cultures using such dirty tactics is reprehensible. Using stings and encouraging betrayal to the government is crudely authoritarian. Appealing to fear in a city that suffered so greatly is perhaps the most cowardly part of this campaign.

    Arguments about affordable housing have many more angles than just Airbnb, and in the scheme of things, I doubt that Airbnb plays a huge role when compared to rising income of newcomers and general gentrification.

  9. @Grant (July 31, 2017 at 10:13 pm) – while I appreciate the suggestion, there is no “fee” that I would accept from AirBNB to accommodate tourists accidentally buzzing my doorbell in the wee hours of a weekday morning. It didn’t happen often, but it was profoundly annoying when it did.

    In addition, in using the word “democratization” to describe an asset utilization policy, all you are highlighting is a lack of understanding of either.

    Finally, people who are owners and not renters benefit immensely from housing appreciation at above-inflation rates.

  10. Terrorism is not a good reason to shut down urban airbnbs, but there are a lot of very good reasons why private residential apartments should not be used as short term accommodation rentals.

  11. @grant you clearly have no idea of what you are talking about if you think airbnb owners would ever give money over to their neighbors. I can just see some party tourist bringing drugs and hookers into the building. Oh yes people may use airbnb for legitimate reasons while others use it because they don’t want a hotel looking over their shoulder. There have been a number of stories about such behavior in NYC.

  12. @Bill The host I had last summer did give money to the neighbors in the duplex for the inconvenience.

    Secondly, the vast majority of guests are totally normal and fine. You hear about the horror stories, but not about the hundreds of thousands of transactions that go well. Of course people use it for legitimate reasons. It saves travelers money and provides a transaction infrastructure that’s much more secure and stable than some flimsy half-baked Queens lawyer produced contract. Maybe check that availability bias a bit there.

    @ADP Perhaps a Co-op where said practice is banned within the building would work for you? It would likely come at a premium due to desirability and opportunity cost.

    I don’t see how I show a misunderstanding of democratization. I was using it in the Silicon Valley sense of “the action of making something accessible to everyone.” It has made traveling much more accessible for long-term stays because they usually cost far less than what a hotel would for a better location and amenities. It has made it much easier to be a landlord than ever before due to the lower capital requirements (if subletting) and a pre-made transaction infrastructure, interface, and advertising tool. People who took the initiative to do this are generating wealth for themselves at a great pace. Who is anyone to really say that they can’t freely participate in the market if there’s an opportunity.

    Of course owners benefit more than renters. Building equity is great, but where can you build equity as a low to middle income individual in New York? You’re going to be renting until the day you die or move to New Jersey. The building I live in now sold 1.2M last year and it’s pretty gnarly. Landlords and wealthy investors have been doing this for decades, I don’t see the problem with letting more small players into the game.

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