top of page

Airbnb Just Coughed Up a Nasty Hairball

Republished from 2016. Has much changed? Downtown Toronto has entire condo buildings that are dominated by short-term AirBnb rentals that end in shootings, damage, and chaos for the owners and neighbours. Reports of discrimination rage on.

Airbnb sent me this email/threat this morning. I found it preachy, punishing and lacking in human reality and psychology.

Am I overreacting or are they overstepping their role as a brand? Have they gone from the 'cool friend' that helped me travel cheap, to be the big corporation now dictating terms?

Here is their email.....



Earlier this year, we launched a comprehensive effort to fight bias and discrimination in the Airbnb community. As a result of this effort, we’re asking (actually telling if you read on) everyone to agree to a Community Commitment beginning November 1, 2016. Agreeing to this commitment will affect your use of Airbnb, so we wanted to give you a heads up about it.

What is the Community Commitment?

You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.

How do I accept the commitment?

On or after November 1, we’ll show you the commitment when you log in to or open the Airbnb website, mobile or tablet app and we’ll automatically ask you to accept.

What if I decline the commitment?

If you decline the commitment, you won’t be able to host or book using Airbnb, (so Airbnb if I don't agree with your brand, I can't stay in a person home that you broker? that you have no equity in?) and you have the option to cancel your account. Once your account is cancelled, future booked trips will be cancelled. You will still be able to browse Airbnb, but you won’t be able to book any reservations or host any guests.

Signed, The Airbnb Team


I do like and applaud their intentions - the principles of their code. Most of us try to live our life that way.

I also support corporations that go beyond the immediate gratification of profit and invest in ways that positively impact the lives of people and the livelihood of our planet. I especially admire the ones that do it quietly. I don't like to be preached to or threatened when I don't fall in line with someone else code.

It's my take on how the USA election is being fought. It is the playbook of most religions, and it is why Sabres continuously rattle in Foreign Policy as one country tries to dictate to another their 'code of conduct.

In my opinion, Airbnb is doing the same thing. "You commit to treating everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias." If you don't fall in line... Or you can't book or host with Airbnb".

The Airbnb brand just coughed up a nasty hairball

Where does Airbnb, an organization that has only eight years of history on this planet, have the audacity to tell me what my judgement and bias should be?

One could argue that Airbnb is different. That their business involves human-to-human transactions and that they have every right to dictate their beliefs.

Airbnb is a Well-Oiled Toll Booth

My counter is that Airbnb is simply a broker. They are a well-oiled, online toll booth. They are lucky to have hosted to collect tariffs from.

I hate to disappoint the Leaders of Airbnb with universal truth. Every human on this planet has their own judgements and biases. We each have our own code. We are born with our 'spider sense', our 'fight or flight syndrome' and intuition. Our Parents and our upbringing shape them. It's how we learn to make decisions, some on the fly and some very thoughtful.

And yes there are a lot of people on this planet with ugly prejudices and racism. I wish a magic wand could be waved and all of it would disappear. It just doesn't work that way.

Consumer behaviour has shifted from trusting brand to trusting strangers

In today's world consumers need their judgement and biases more than ever. Our behaviour has shifted from trusting brands to trusting strangers. We now hook up with strangers on Tinder, get 'ubered' around in strangers' cars, stream content and sell stuff on craigslist yes sleep in a stranger's bed.

Most consumers mitigate the risks that go with an economy of sharing with strangers through their own judgements and bias. With Airbnb, you are not booking into an established hotel chain, supported by checks and balances, security and limited key access to your room.

Signing Airbnb's Community Code will not impact my choice in what strangers I choose to let sleep in my home and what strangers home and neighbourhood I decide to rent. If you are a single mother with children, hoping to make a few bucks with your guest bedroom - then you should be allowed to discriminate, and only host women, or the elderly or whoever brings you both cash and peace of mind.

If you look like Charles Manson you might be Charles Manson. If I will cross the street to avoid you and I will certainly not surrender my house keys to you.

Call me discriminatory I call it discerning...

You can call me discriminatory. I call it discerning. My judgement and biases are mine and mine alone. It is how I make and will continue to make my decisions. That freedom I will never surrender.

(......and speaking of discriminatory or discerning or wading into where I am not invited - What do you think about A Canadians Ode to America?)


Get Connected & Chatting

To chat with me, Tony Chapman find me on Twitter I LinkedIn I Instagram I Youtube

To learn more about RBC and their programs visit


bottom of page