Travel Industry Directly Feels Impact of Paris Tragedy

By / Nov 16, 2015 Municipal employees deploy a banner with the drawing "Peace for Paris" by French artist Jean Jullien. (Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

A key global travel group says it’s been working to assist those stranded or needing assistance in the wake of Friday’s terror attacks on the city of Paris. Meanwhile, one prominent startup closely tied to the hospitality space found one of its corporate events located roughly in the middle of the terror attacks.

One of the many elements of Friday’s terror attacks on Paris that made people nervous involved the attack’s impact on travel—both in the immediate wake of the attacks and in terms of how it could affect things down the road.

As a global city, Paris is a major hub for travel and commerce, and many travelers were left stranded as a result of the French government’s decision to close borders and tighten travel through the country’s airports.

The Global Business Travel Association was among many of the voices speaking on behalf of those travelers over the weekend.

“The terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of more than 120 innocent people and injured scores more are not just an assault on Paris, but on our modern way of life,” GBTA President Christle Johnson said in a statement. “On behalf of the Global Business Travel Association, let me express our deepest sympathies to the French people and to those directly affected by the attacks. We stand with the people of France today.”

The association emphasized that it would do what it could to assist travelers as needed and pledged to take steps to respond to this situation in the long run as well as in the immediate wake of the terror incidents, which affected an Eagles of Death Metal concert, a football match, and two restaurants. (At least 89 people were killed and more than 100 were injured at the concert alone, which took place at the iconic Bataclan music hall. The venue’s owners said they had “no words” to describe the remorse felt in reaction to the attack.)

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives also pledged long-term support in the wake of the attacks.

Airbnb Steps Up

Part of the reason for people’s shock had to do with the fact that the attacks hit close to home, in a way. The prominent sharing-economy hospitality firm Airbnb was no exception. In fact, the company was on the front lines.

The company’s Airbnb Open conference took place in Paris last week and was scheduled to end on Saturday, but the company quickly canceled the final day of the event due to the terror attacks, which occurred within a short distance of Parc de la Villette, where the Airbnb event was held.

More than 5,000 employees and attendees were stranded as a result of the decision, and Airbnb took steps to take care of both attendees and travelers in general who faced travel struggles due to the attacks. The company launched its disaster-response service for those in need of shelter.

“We’re working with local and national government officials so they can recommend the service while they’re fielding inquiries from people who need a place to go,” the company said in a news release. “Please share this information with anyone who is interested or in need of accommodations during this difficult time.”

Paris is the room-sharing service’s most popular city—something that drove the company to hold Airbnb Open outside of its home base of San Francisco for the first time.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »