This promotional tour from Airbnb to tout Airbnb Adventures clearly backfired because of traveler outrage and difficulties in booking and paying for the one-time trip. It's not an opportune start for Airbnb's tour initiative, which may be a tad more complex than Airbnb anticipates.
Tour operator competitors have cautioned Airbnb that running multiday tours wouldn’t be as easy as it might appear. The homesharing site is indeed finding that out the hard way as a high-profile trip promotion, “Around the world in 80 days,” part of the new Airbnb Adventures, has been beset with consumer complaints about the booking and payment process in the days after it was first offered.
On Twitter and Instagram, for example, consumers have bemoaned the fact that their credit cards were charged twice or three times when booking the tour while sometimes it was unclear whether the booking actually went through. Others complained about the fact that Airbnb was only making two places available every few days for the 18-country tour, which runs September 1 to November 19.
Airbnb touted the “extraordinary Airbnb Adventure” on Twitter, noting that it takes in “80 days. 6 continents. 18 countries.”
80 days. 6 continents.18 countries.
One extraordinary Airbnb Adventure.
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) June 20, 2019
But that tweet elicited numerous complaints:
Tim Andes tweeted: “I got charged twice for this haha. I hope I didn’t just take both spots?” The “both slots” reference was to Airbnb making a mere two openings for the tours available at a time. Airbnb.com stated on Monday: “And only 2 spots are available on each of the following days,” namely June 20, June 26, and July 1.
I just got charged twice for this haha. I hope I didn't just take both spots?
— Tim Andes (@TAtravels) June 20, 2019
The tours, which costs $6,979 per person, and does not include airfare to and from the start and end point, England. Airbnb does not openly detail on its platforms the hotels, camp sites or yachts where guests will stay, but says “a detailed itinerary for this adventure will be sent with your booking confirmation.”
Jess Mean tweeted: “Is it showing up in your Trips?,” a reference to the section of Airbnb that shows users’ upcoming itineraries or stays. “I just got charged 3x (have 3 receipt/confirmation emails) but not sure if it’s actually real.”
Is it showing up in your Trips? I got charged 3x (have 3 receipt/confirmation emails) but not sure if it's actually "real."
— Jess Mean (@jessmeansit) June 20, 2019
Andes replied: “I called and they confirmed that the 4 receipts I received were all cancelled and refunded by an admin – nothing showing up in Trips. You can bet that the charges are Pending on my card though!”
I called and they confirmed that the 4 receipts I received were all cancelled and refunded by an admin – nothing showing up in Trips. You can bet that the charges are Pending on my card though!
— Tim Andes (@TAtravels) June 20, 2019
Mean replied: “Same thing ended up happening to me and I still have $20,000 pending on my credit card. It’s really unfortunate that Airbnb has failed the travel community that helped them get here.”
Same thing ended up happening to me and I still have $20,000 pending on my credit card. It's really unfortunate that Airbnb has failed the travel community that helped them get here.
— Jess Mean (@jessmeansit) June 21, 2019
Things weren’t much better for Airbnb on Instagram, where users voiced similar complaints in comments to Airbnb Adventures.
For its part, Airbnb reached out on social media to users posting complaints, asking them to contact Airbnb privately to deal with their issues. This around-the-world tour was clearly meant as a promotion to publicize the launch of Airbnb Adventures, and the level of demand may have overwhelmed the accommodations website.
“We are working to ensure that the booking process for this high visibility, one-off experience is smoother moving forward,” Airbnb said in response to an inquiry from Skift. “We immediately issued refunds to everyone who has been impacted and will continue to do all we can to ensure every guest has a great experience.”
Airbnb doesn’t control when banks issue refunds, and the timeframes can vary from credit card company to credit card company.
The tour includes stops in England, Romania, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Jordan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United States, Ecuador, Chile, Iceland, and back to England. Airbnb said MT Sobek planned the trip, and 100 percent of the proceeds are going to the Malala Fund.
So do the problems with the around-the-world-tour promotion extend to Airbnb Adventures tours in general? Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said there have been no other problems with bookings of other Airbnb Adventures that the company is aware of.
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Photo Credit: Airbnb's promotional 80-day world tour will make a stop in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Pictured, Egyptians chat outside their tents in front of the Egyptian museum in Tahrir Square, in Cairo on April 27, 2013. Amr Nabil / Associated Press