Airbnb Sends 'Floating World' Email Amidst Harvey Destruction

One of the most destructive storms in American history has inundated entire neighborhoods in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday night as a Category 4 storm, but has since downgraded to a tropical storm. It has already set the record for total rainfall from a single tropical cyclone in the continental United States, according to the National Weather Service on Tuesday, but additional rain is still expected to fall in southeast Texas and Louisiana.

Amidst the destruction, Airbnb sent out an ill-advised promotional email campaign on Monday touting “floating world” destinations. The marketing email included headlines like, “How to spend a day - or an entire trip – without touching dry land,” and “Stay above the water: live the life aquatic with these floating homes.”

As a travel company, Airbnb often sends promotional campaigns for unique accommodations. Past email campaigns have included treehouses and geodesic domes for rent, emails likely put together months before they were sent in preparation for future automated campaigns.

Marketing automation is an email marketer’s best friend, but it’s imperative that marketers keep tabs on upcoming campaigns to halt any that might be in poor taste due to current events. Airbnb learned a harsh lesson in email marketing this week, but other marketers can learn from their mistake.

Airbnb has waived its service fee for homeowners listing their properties on the site to take in Houston’s homeless for free.





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