Don’t Be Scared to Travel Because of Terrorism

Traveling in Europe may seem riskier in the light of the worldwide alert that was issued by the U.S. state Department last week, which cautioned a possible risk to travelers from the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups. The warning stated that the groups are planning terrorist attacks in multiple regions.

“Statistically, car accidents and illnesses are still the greatest threats to travelers — not terrorism,” says Scott Hume, the associate director for security operations at Global Rescue – a travel risk and crisis management firm.

images (1)However, experts are still saying that you should be paying closer attention to the news before and during your trip. At times of heightened security alerts like now, travelers should review the State Departments Alerts and Warnings page. To take security one step forward, sign up for the government’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan (STEP) that will let the government track and warn you about any potential dangers.

Do you know what your travel insurance covers? It doesn’t always cover terrorist attacks so check to make sure before purchasing a new policy. Some of them will let you cancel and receive a refund, but the incident has to happen within a specified time period and close enough to the place that you are planning to visit.

For example, Brussels was recently under a high terror alert and even though no terrorist attacks have occurred, travelers with plans to visit are still eligible to purchase travel insurance with terrorism coverage. However, you can’t buy travel insurance now and then expect to cancel existing reservations on the basis of the November attacks – only future attacks.

Once again, it is extremely unlikely for you will be injured in a terrorist attack, but knowing that you are covered in the worst case scenario will help you have a peace of mind before your trip. However, something else that you can organize with your party is a safe haven outside of your hotel – somewhere else that you can meet them if the hotel is too far. Restaurants usually have landlines so you can make phone calls if cell service is disruptive. Make sure that everyone in your party knows the address and even stop by it when you first arrive to the city so everybody will remember it.

Airline policies can vary in a terrorist attack. After the attacks in France, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines waived some change fees for a limited time, but did not offer refunds except for canceled flights. There is not any say that they will waive change fees for a future attack.

Remember that the chances of you getting caught in a terrorist attack while traveling is miniscule. However, make sure that you take these steps to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

 

Airbnb & San Francisco Are Just the Beginning

Some advertising campaigns just don’t go as planned. Marketing teams can come up with something brilliant and excitedly put it together to get it out as fast as possible. However, sometimes we may not have our audience completely figured out or maybe you fail to reach your target audience by the way you’re advertising. These are just some of the things that have gone wrong in Airbnb’s latest advertising campaign that they launched in San Francisco.

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Airbnb appears to be telling the city how it should be spending its money on public projects using platforms like billboards and bus stops throughout San Francisco. Instead of people feeling intrigued and motivated to make a change in their community, viewers took the advertisements as whiny and passive aggressive.

Airbnb has responded to the backlash, admitting that they “displayed poor judgment and do not live up to the values and humanity of our global community.” Airbnb has confirmed that the ads will be taken down immediately.

“The intent was to show the hotel tax contribution from our hosts and guests, which is roughly $1 million per month. It was the wrong tone and we apologize to anyone who was offended.”

However, when you take a closer look at Airbnb’s relationship with San Francisco, it doesn’t appear to be all blue skies. Airbnb had been avoiding paying for taxes over the last few years and finally agreed to pay several millions of dollars. Here is where it makes sense – before February, Airbnb had refused to pay San Francisco’s 14 percent hotel tax. Airbnb probably owed as much as $25 million.

Recently, Airbnb had been feeling pressure from San Francisco’s proposed ballot initiative, Proposition F. What is Proposition F? The most important thing is that it wants to restrict unregistered short-term rentals just like Airbnb.

Now, Airbnb is spending more than $8 million to fight the initiative. Their biggest argument is that the city will not be able to collect as many tax dollars from its services if the ballot is approved.

So even though Airbnb agreed to pay the back-tax in February, Airbnb is still arguing that San Francisco is unfairly trying to double-tax their hosts while accessing users’ personal data. In a sign of mounting pressure, back in August Airbnb agreed to collect taxes on rentals in Paris – which is now its biggest market worldwide.

This advertising campaign was probably not the wisest way to aid their crusade. What do you guys think?