Theatre company’s Edinburgh Fringe show in the balance after Airbnb horror story

A theatre company has been left desperately searching for accommodation at the Fringe after an Airbnb glitch saw their host cancel with less than two weeks before their show is due to begin.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 8:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 9:19 pm
Quids In Theatre Company have been affected by an Airbnb pricing glitch (Photo: Quids In Theatre Company)
Quids In Theatre Company have been affected by an Airbnb pricing glitch (Photo: Quids In Theatre Company)

Confusion caused by a pricing glitch in Airbnb’s Smart Pricing system in May saw prices drop well below their intended price point.

It meant Quids In Theatre Company, from Aberdeen, was told the Bruntsfield flat it had rented for its three cast members for £85 per night, should actually have cost them £240 per night.

Airbnb promised to compensate hosts for the glitch to allow them to honour bookings, but the host cancelled the theatre group’s stay after reportedly being told they would not get the money back.

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However, Airbnb dispute this and said there was never any intention of backtracking on providing compensation to the host.

The confusion leaves Annie Begg, who runs Quids In Theatre Company, in the situation of either paying more to stay with their original host or find cheaper accommodation in the capital before the start of the Fringe.

She said the host of the property, on Colinton Road, had offered a rate of £150 per night in order to honour the booking, more than £1,000 more over the 17 nights than the initial price.

Mrs Begg said: “We are an independent theatre company and we exist from project to project. We have no hope in getting an extra £1,000 back. We are down there a week on Thursday and we are a mature theatre company, we can’t sleep on the floor.”

Mrs Begg added that she accepted people expect to profit from the increased trade from the Fringe, but said high prices for accommodation was making the festival harder to afford.

She said: “Why can people be allowed to exploit companies at the Fringe. We expect that people want to make money over the Fringe but there has to be a limit as to how much they can charge and how much they can hold people to ransom.

"Companies will not be able to afford to come to the Fringe. We are a company that pays our actors, we pay their accommodation and their food and to be able to do that is becoming increasingly difficult. It is a horrific situation."

A spokesman for Airbnb said: “As soon as we were aware of the issue, we quickly resolved it and reached out to affected hosts to ensure they were compensated fairly. Our commitment to that hasn’t changed.

"Unfortunately our handling of this individual case fell below our usual high standards, and we have reached out to the host and guest to provide our support with the booking and help make things right.”