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.
I have been following the reactions to this latest news on this thread and also on the Italian one because I also host there. I am happy to see I am not the only one not liking this and also to notice that, on both threads, the majority of those complaining are superhosts. Shouldn’t this ring a bell? If we feel this way who did Airbnb listen to when they decided to implement this stupid policy? It is our homes we open to people and getting to know them even through a picture helps create that special relationship that leads to a happy guest and a successful host.
Too true, well said! All of us super hosts put quite an effort into making our homes the very best we can for our guests showing a photo to put a friendly face to a booking shouldn’t be too much of a hardship . I truly believe this is just facilitating reverse racism! I have never considered ethnicity when accepting a booking which is obvious from the number of bookings and guests I have had!
This is very disappointig policy on behalf of Airbnb. I am a single woman letting strangers into my home, I need every tool available to me to assess whether the person is a suitable guest for me. I have had a personal policy of not accepting any guest who doesn't show their profile photo as all humans want to know who it is that we are talking to and trusting to be in our homes. I will have to consider closing my account with Airbnb.
I think we all have to be diligent in vetting potential guests, as always. If we are unable to mandate a guest have a photo, it's even more important now to make sure they have at least one review, numerous verifications and also for me, to get a feeling from their communication. If they have several verifications and communicate well, I will allow total newbies and probably half of my guests have been newbies with almost zero issues.
For me, I can almost always tell what kind of a guest someone will be based on how they respond to my messages and how engaging they are. I've gotten to the point that I deny anyone who does not respond and interact with me in a way that I like and who does not engage in a professional and friendly manner.
Rather than requiring a photo, we have decided to add a paragraph to our Welcome Letter to those booked Guests who do not post a photo, asking that they send us one just as a security issue (but not requiring they do so). After more than 100 individual stays, reserved via Instant Booking, we have never had an issue relative to guest photo. But as we live downstairs from the rental unit (and one of our entry doors is next to Guests') it is always nice to be able to identify a Guest who is letting themselves in. Years ago when we attempted to rent an Airbnb spot we were declined and it felt horrible thinking it was ageism (when in fact it was likely more than one of us interested in those dates--we did not then have the option of Instant Booking).
Well no profile picture, but mine is available where is the equity here?
guest can cancel without penalty, hosts cannot, where is the equity here?
Does Airbnb check guests references/verifications, I doubt it.
looks like going forward no review no booking.....
one time I was very suspicious of a booking from strange guest questions prior to a booking, they had no reviews , I contacted support and they suggested I give them a chance. It was the worst booking we ever had! I also agree that I probably will only accept bookings from people who supply a photo or who have had good reviews. It may not be foolproof and it may reduce my bookings but.......
i was attracted to ABB by the community philosophy of respect, camaraderie, and unique reasonable places to stay. I love being a host, and have proven myself.
the diversity amongst my bookings and glowing reviews proves i’m not a racist or bigot as does the name of my cottage.
Im not ok with the new policy eliminating clear facial photos, combined with not requiring verified government IDs, and provision of last names because of racism. that’s like “kindergarten psychology”... creating a blanket rule fur the whole for the choices of a few, and doesn’t reflect well on the evolution of company creativity and originality that used to be the ABB hallmark.
i’ve read the complete instructions for adjusting the booking requirements to require guests complete thier profiles with a photo. I’ve investigated the whole section and there isn’t an option for this in the booking section for my listing.
I need to screen my guests for safety reasons. My space is in a remote location near a busy travel route with no designated local law enforcement support and I live on site, so I check out every guest who asks to stay before approving all bookings rather than agreeing to “instant book” that ABB wants everyone to choose to increase profits.
Theres another very important facet of this that ABB hasn’t mentioned in the preamble to this thread:
With no photo required, I have no way of knowing if the person who shows up is who booked—-and ABB rules clearly state they do not cover or advocate on our behalf with 3rd party bookings. If a different person shows up and complains, causes damage, or does something illegal or against the house rules - hosts have no rights.
So, not only is this a safety issue, ABB has just absolved themselves of thier stated policy of supporting us if we have trouble, even if someone gets though the system by lying or simply not providing a photo.
Other listing services require registration with full name and matching photo government ID and credit card as a matter of course.
Other services don’t publish this aspect, but they also have a list of problem guests they screen out.
If ABB wants to address racism, there are other ways that do not put everyone at risk for safety and liability, it just requires a creative mind—-which is what the leadership is paid for.
If ABB wants to inspire trust, please try asking us about our concerns before creating policy changes that directly effect our safety and that of our homes and property.
I love what I do, and this policy and the apparent perspective that inspired it adds a layer of inconsideration for host safety and, in lieu of ABBs policy changes side stepping responsibility, a hosts ability to do our own due diligence is even more important, so all this policy does is exacerbate the issues and it actually introduces a layer of legal problems that could backfire on everyone.
I’m not happy with this and it’s clear from all of the responses here that others are concerned as well.
Please find another way to address the “racism card” that doesn’t compromise everyone’s standards of safety and integrity or compromise other ABB host/guest protections.
Agree on every front.
Hadn't occured about this: "So, not only is this a safety issue, ABB has just absolved themselves of thier stated policy of supporting us if we have trouble, even if someone gets though the system by lying or simply not providing a photo." Thanks for bringing that up.
We have a resident manager at our condo complex on Maui that requires being able to compare photos with who arrives.
This policy was started, because during a time when our condo was not rented, a friend of an earlier cleaner stayed in our condo with no notice and arriving at dark and departing at dawn...
The condo was messed up for the next guest...
Therefore, each guest must show photo ID to the manager if there is not a AirBnB face photo.
Regarding bad reviews, Airbnb should expunge any after 12 months...no guest wants to know that you had to cancel a booking, or was unable to satisfy a staying guest.
I got dinged pretty bad by AirBnB, when a guest complained about the AC, even tho its limitations were explained to the guest in writing before they booked.
I sent my earlier correspondence to AirBnB, but still got dinged...
We once had an enquiry from a group of guests (from a different nationality) that totalled 16 guests in number. Our property sleeps 7, hence we declined the request. How do we answer the accusation that we declined them on discriminatory grounds? This was clearly not discrimination, however if the number of guests totalled 8 or 9, it may appear so. We have had guests stay from all over, and welcome many more, however we can’t have hosts rights being eroded, because guests flaunt the discrimination card. In Australia, every business has the right to refuse service to any customer. This shouldn’t exclude AirBnB!
The right to refuse service is also a law in most of the US fir private property and businesses as well, although it can be appealed by individuals, case by case and taken to the press. the legal system and the media both profit handsomely from cases of civil rights violations, and, if it becomes legal, there has to be proof it was maliciously motivated rather than based on conduct.
Im not sure how Air BnB thinks they can rewrite laws or forcing us to allow anyone who asks to stay with threats of loss of status, etc.
With all due respect, Isn't that in itself a form of systemic discriminatory population profiling?
Im seeing this in other arenas as well.
Im not a racist or bigot—my track record as a host proves this.
Im concerned that this...overcompensation is actually eroding more rights than its protecting and it’s going to create a bunch of legal messes with the “host protection” and corollary policy.
I’m curious about how thoroughly the effects of this policy change have been reviewed from PR, host relations, and legal perspectives.