Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said Sydney Sweeney’s SNL skit didn’t ‘sting’

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They say there’s no such thing as bad press, and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky is proving the point by insisting a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit taking aim at his company just proves the brand has become a true household name.

Earlier this year, actress Sydney Sweeney and comedian Chloe Troast appeared in the SNL bit, which labelled Airbnb setups as “bland, generic, and downright uninviting.”

They continued: “Why stay in a hotel when for basically the same amount of money you could stay in a place with worst sheets and a camera in the toilet?” (Indoor cameras in Airbnbs were banned in March.)

In addition to jibes about home decoration, the skit also took aim at the locations of some of the properties, a lack of privacy, and complex instructions for taking out the trash and accessing the property.

But the tongue-in-cheek barbs didn’t faze Airbnb co-founder Chesky, who alongside Joe Gebbia became the first hosts on the platform in 2007.

In fact, Chesky seemed to welcome the notoriety in an interview with NBC ‘News Nightly’ released this weekend. He said the skit didn’t “sting,” and added: “I felt if anything like we have a huge responsibility, we’re part of culture. The brand is a noun and verb used all over the world.”

Responding to customers’ criticism of Airbnb’s price and fees compared to hotels—as mentioned in the SNL skit—Chesky admitted that the company had lost its way “a little bit.”

Indeed, a study from Which? released last year of thousands of short-term rentals across 50 global locations found that hotels were actually cheaper on average. The rentals listed on platforms like Airbnb tended to average $152 a night compared to $128 for a hotel room.

Part of that sum will be the cleaning cost hosts charge to turn over the property between guests—a fee previously not shown in the ‘total’ listing on the site.

But in September last year, Chesky confirmed that following an update—which saw the fees added to the total—more than 260,000 properties had lowered or removed their fees.

“Objectively the prices went up,” Chesky admitted.

“The way I think about it is you have to listen to the community and when people tell us that Airbnb’s aren’t as affordable as they used to be and they feel we’re nickel-and-diming fees, you take that very seriously.”

Chesky said the result of Airbnb’s work is that Airbnbs are cheaper than they used to be on a year-on-year basis, and hotels are going up.

Airbnb did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

The detector question

Over the years, Airbnb has also faced scrutiny over safety, particularly regarding the monitoring of carbon monoxide in its properties.

Previously the company said it wanted all Airbnb hosts to confirm they had carbon monoxide detectors in their properties, though Chesky walked back that mandate in the interview this month.

It comes following an investigation by NBC, which alleged 19 deaths related to carbon monoxide occurred in Airbnb properties between 2013 and 2023.

Responding to a question about this investigation and the company’s previously proposed mandate, Chesky said: “It is very hard to verify whether or not a property has a carbon monoxide detector but we’re working really, really hard to make sure that every single property has a verified address, you understand where the place is, if there’s any complaints about the property we can respond to it.”

Airbnb does provide CO monitors to hosts free of charge if they ask for them.

Chesky added that the company also provides information to customers staying in properties that have a high risk of carbon monoxide and makes it clear to guests if the property does not have a test.

“It’s really hard to mandate things in 220 countries and regions and cities all over the world,” he continued. “If you mandate something you have to have a mechanism to verify that it happens.

“There’s a really good question about whether a mandate is the right approach, but what is absolutely the right approach is to make sure that every single listing is safe, every single person is safe, and every single person knows what they’re booking.”

https://www.highcpmgate.com/f0c2i8ki?key=d7778888e3d5721fde608bfdb62fd997

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