Update: January, 2019
A few months ago, we told you about some changes Airbnb was making to the way guest profile photos are displayed. You can read the original post, below.
Now that those changes are being introduced gradually, we want to make sure you have all the information you need. Here’s a recap of what will be changing, along with some tips.
New photo process
Moving forward, rather than displaying a potential guest’s profile photo before the booking is accepted, you’ll receive a guest’s photo after you’ve accepted the booking request. If you have Instant Book turned on, you won’t notice a change to the booking process.
Airbnb does not require guests to have profile photos. Although most guests provide a photo, some have told us they don’t want to share a picture of themselves when booking, and we listened.
At the same time, many of you told us that you value guest profile photos, and we listened to you, too. That’s why we’ve introduced a new option for hosts to be able to customize their own booking requirements.
New host control
You now have the option to require that your guests provide a profile photo. Again, the photo will be visible to you only after you accept the booking request. If you’d like to require your guests to provide a profile photo, you’ll need to turn on the control option in your settings for each of your listings, either on mobile or on web. Specifically:
If you take this step and a potential guest doesn’t already have a profile photo, they’ll be prompted to upload one before they can request to book your space. A guest’s profile photo will not be available to you until after you accept the booking request. If the guest doesn’t want to provide a photo, then they won’t be able to book your space.
If you choose to require that your guests have a profile photo and one of your potential guests uploads an image that doesn’t show their face—a photo of a sunset or their dog, for instance—then you can call Airbnb’s Community Support. They’ll work with you to address the issue, and if you feel uncomfortable hosting someone without a photo that shows their face, you can request to cancel the reservation penalty-free.
As a reminder, Airbnb’s nondiscrimination policy prohibits hosts from making booking decisions or canceling reservations based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
As an extra step, as always, you can require guests to provide a government ID to Airbnb in order to be able to book your space. You can read more about that process here.
Why these changes are important
We talked with lots of hosts and guests about profile photos, and we think these changes satisfy the core concerns and feedback we heard. We’ll be paying close attention to how these changes to profile photos affect our community, and will continue working to improve and simplify the process to ensure you feel comfortable hosting. We hope you’ll share your feedback with us so we can continue to build a community where everyone can belong. Thank you for hosting.
You've been asking a lot about guest profile photos, and Airbnb has been working on new policies to address your concerns. Here is an update from Airbnb:
Today, we’re announcing some changes we will be making to the way we display guest profile photos.
Moving forward, rather than displaying a potential guest’s profile photo before the booking is accepted, hosts will receive a guest’s photo in the booking process only after they’ve accepted the booking request. Airbnb does not require all guests to provide a photo. Instead, we’ll be giving hosts the option to ask their guests to provide a profile photo, which will only be presented to hosts after they accept the booking. We have discussed some of this work in the past and we want you to know more about the changes we will be making in the coming months.
We have participated in a number of conversations with hosts and guests regarding this topic. We have listened to our community, and while most guests provide a photo, some guests told us they don’t want to share a picture of themselves when booking. We also recognize that concerns have been raised about the potential for photos to be misused in a way that violates our nondiscrimination policy.
At the same time, hosts have told us that they value profile photos because they can help hosts and guests get to know one another before a trip begins and help hosts recognize guests when they check in. Additionally, we’ve seen how photos can be a useful tool for enhancing trust and promoting community.
We want to balance these concerns. Airbnb does not require guests to provide a profile photo when booking a listing and, as we discussed earlier this summer with our hosts, we will be implementing a series of changes in the months ahead:
If a host cancels a reservation after they see a guest’s photo, the guest will have an easy way to contact Airbnb and report any concerns about potential discrimination by the host in violation of our nondiscrimination policy and Community Commitment. If any guest believes he or she has been discriminated against and notifies our team, we’ll immediately help them book an alternative listing consistent with our Open Doors Policy, investigate the report, and take appropriate action. Any host who violates our nondiscrimination policy may be permanently banned from using Airbnb.
This announcement follows the commitment we made in 2016 to evaluate how we display guest profile photos in the booking process. As we implement these changes in the coming months, we hope you’ll share your feedback with us so we can continue to make thoughtful changes that make the Airbnb community a place where everyone can belong.
Hi all, thankyou admin for this update regarding this proposal.
I recognise this as an initiative that had its origins in concerns over discrimination. Notably it is stated that if a host cancels after seeing a profile picture, and this triggers a concern that a person may sense they have been wrongly and unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of appearance, guests will be made aware that they can report their concern and have it investigated and acted on.
Profile photos providing a tool to facilitate discrimination and being linked to concerns that they will enable and increase discrimination are in my view somewhat overblown and certainly Airbnb's energy and engineering talent is being misdirected in attempting to implement this potential solution to a percieved problem. After all there currently are immediate and sound penalties for cancellations and also there are disincentives to repeatedly declining booking requests, regardless of whether the refusal was soundly or unreasonably made. The pressure and reward is in consistently accepting bookings.
This two stage opt-out is only adding complexity to the guest sign up and account details. On a number of occasions I have had guests almost walk away from proceeding with booking at my listing and giving up on Airbnb travel because they found the sign up confusing. Thankfully I was able to support them through to a successful complete account and a successful booking for me, and the hope is that they will go on to continue travelling with other Airbnb hosts in future.
The much bigger concern with profile photos is safety and privacy on the internet and minimising the threat of privacy and security breaches. Published photos are easily copied and misused. That's the biggest risk, threat and offence that can occur to either guests and hosts.
Seeing who you are "talking" to is a normal human desire and revealing yourself is good manners. The only 2 people who need to see each other are guest and hosts. So instead of the current proposal why not just give guests and hosts the opportunity to upload a primary photo for web display on the public profile and guest review proviles etc, and a secondary photo which is released to the host or guest when an enquiry or booking is being made or accepted.
There are lots of reasons why a host who needs to maintain privacy for reasons of personal protection or security, should be confident knowing that they cannot be searched out via a publicly available picture.
So public photos for everyone, make your own choice of photo, and then a privately auto exchanged passport style portrait photo when transacting.
I typed this on my phone.
Please excuse typing errors and any lack of punctuation.
Best regards. Christine
I agree with all of your points here, but I just read a study today that almost 90 percent of who you intereact with, what you read, isn't real. It is AI, and bots. It is really depressing to know that over half of my intereactions on the web are proven to be "Fake', AND not Trump, fake ..actually fake!
i disagree with this new system. We are renting our homes to the strangers that we don’t know so we need to see who is booking and actually not only the person who books but also the people that they come with would be better for security comfirmation reasons. As house owners we are open to misuse of our properties. Especially if the places are self check in places, so it’s better for us to get as much information as we can. Yours Sincerely.
Agree totally Kerem.
You're letting complete strangers stay in your home, right or wrong, you're entitled to what ever predjudices make you comfortable with that.
When someones profile pic is of he and his mates trashing a police car ... its a good indication of the type of guest he'll be.
You dont seem to have provided any details about which group is being discrimated against?
Is there an equivalent representation of that group hosting people?
Groups of lads will never be good house guests 😉
This is basically my philosophy too, Adrian, you are letting them into your home and they see a photo of you, and you have a lot more to lose if the transaction is not as peaceful as anticipated, so I can't help feeling that if they do not provide a legitimate profile photo then something doesn't sit right with it... i certainly like to have at least an idea of what they look like before they arrive, and it often helps give the host an idea of the age group involved, which may not be evident otherwise... preparing for younger or older guests can be relevant, at my place, at least.
We have been hosting for 6.5 years - and have been Super Hosts for as long as I can remember. I enjoy seeing our guest's photos. We obviously have not been declining based on any photos as we would not have SuperHost status otherwise. We feel much more comfortablle knowing people have their photos up there by choice - not being forced to do so by a new rule?
Totally agree!I have hosted over 75 people of all walks colors and genders. I am opening my home and dont want to be forced into anything. I feel this is really unfair to host.s
I have to agree with the hosts who have commented about the security and seeing who they will be hosting. I have never considered refusing someone because of "looks". I have hosted only for a year and I have had wonderful experiences so far. I just became a super host. My concern is that I want to know who to expect at my door. I live alone, I own my house, not air bnb. The host is the one who is extending their hospitality and homes to total strangers. Why are the hosts being asked to conform to this new rule? Address the problem with the ones creating the problem but don't punish everyone else because it's the easiest way out.
I have just changed my House Rules to ‘guest photo required before booking accepted’ as Instant Book rules state you can decline a booking if you feel uncomfortable about it. In the original Host News article it says we can go to our Guest Requirement settings and go into Profile Photo but that doesn’t seem to be there! We all need to stand firm on this topic as it is an intrusion into our rights as hosts. Why is it all about the guests?
Valerie, many thanks! I have done the same thing. Initially had gone in and not seen Profile Photo checkbox. Perhaps it is not 'up' yet on the site; however, my profile photo is 'out there' for anyone to see. You are so right that hosts need to stand firm on this issue. I understand that it's a crazy world out there; however, we appear to be the ones taking it all on the chin should some misfortune occur in one of our most precious possessions, our homes!
I absolutely agree Valerie and most of the rest of you who, as hosts are being discriminated against. I had a text from a Chinese person on Saturday (I don't know the difference between male and female names but a 3rd party was also texting me for them!) who claimed to have booked, when they hadn't, so I felt very vulnerable as they said they were outside my door and wanted me to come out and show myself. They were not far away. I reported it to airbnb who said they'd pass on my query to someone else - even though it was clearly urgent. Nobody got back to me for many hours, during which anything could have happened. If they were looking to check out the house, as they stated, and actually wanted it, I would have earned nearly a month's income, but without airbnb getting back to me I had to hide away, though they managed to get my address! It is utterly ridiculous and dangerous to make hosts blind to guests appearance before they show up, and if we change our minds and decline them, then we are discriminated against by airbnb and, it seems, the law! These are our homes and we have our rights too. airbnb seem to be like too many organisations, overly PC and therefore unrealistic. As someone has already said here, a before and after booking photo, supplied by guests and then confirmed in another photo from by airbnb seems a much safer idea and should be compulsory.