ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

Airbnb contributes to global refugee crisis efforts with mobile-fueled donations

Airbnb’s latest social campaign invites consumers to use the #WithRefugees hashtag and donate to refugee relief efforts through its application and mobile site, showcasing mobile’s potency in the charitable realm.

Airbnb, which has worked for the refugee cause before, is supporting two social hashtags, #WithRefugees and #BelongAnywhere, to raise awareness of the needs of refugees around the world fleeing war, terror and other violence. Airbnb is also matching donations up to $1 million to the United Nations Agency for Refugees or UNHCR.

A warm bed
Recent violent conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa have led to the displacement of more than 60 million people, whose homes have either been destroyed or are too dangerous to remain in.

To combat this, Airbnb is working closely with UNHCR to raise as much money as possible for refugee aid. The money will go towards travel expenses and housing, which are especially important with winter approaching.

For all donations to the UNHCR made through a link provided on Airbnb’s desktop and mobile sites, the home rental service will match donations up to $800,000 and provide $200,000 in travel credits to donations in excess of $800,000.

In addition to helping to raise money, Airbnb is also raising awareness of the global refugee crisis through a sponsored social campaign promoting two hashtags. #WithRefugees and #BelongAnywhere are meant to encourage people to think about and consider donating to humanitarian efforts to help move and house the millions of refugees fleeing violence and war.

This is not Airbnb’s first foray into humanitarian aid. The company has focused on the refugee crisis in the past as well, and this social campaign is only the latest in a string of campaigns and initiatives meant to raise awareness and provide tangible aid.

For example, Airbnb already provides philanthropic credits for aid workers to stay at discounted or free prices in places where they are helping provide humanitarian aid and has provided lodging for the relief workers who produced After Spring, a documentary about two families of Syrian refugees. The company has also sponsored hackathons to develop open source educational programs for refugee children.

Safe travels
In addition to its humanitarian efforts, Airbnb has been putting its content-focused resources towards its mobile app by adding guidebooks and other features aiming to help customers get situated in the area they are staying in (see story).

To expand use of Airbnb from the cost-conscious to more business-minded consumers, the company recently integrated its booking system into American Express’ suite of payment products, making it easier for AmEx users to book a house through Airbnb’s mobile app (see story).

According to Fortune, Airbnb also acquired Trip4Real this week, a platform that serves users activity recommendations while on vacation, further expanding Airbnb’s suite of services for travelers.

Airbnb’s contributions toward the refugee effort, coupled with its social campaign, signal the unique ability of the travel industry to help with the refugee crisis in which the refugees’ primary needs are safe travel and housing.