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 understand the origins of this, but the constant pressure to accept bookings, is hurting our business model. We do all we can to screen guests, but some party-goers still get through. We have had complaints from our neighbours who have reported it to council. If I can’t reject people who I think will be party-goers (and often the profile pic is the biggest indicator), then I can’t run a sustainable business. I’m not talking about discrimination based on and of the AirBNB policies, I’m talking about the profile pic being an important indicator about their behaviour. AirBNB constantly is squeezing us to accept more, lower our prices, refund cancellation fees, and our government is pressuring us to be more responsible and weed out problematic bookings (with two-strike policy meaning being banned from hosting on any platform 5 years). How am I to do this when AirBNB isn’t making it any easier on us. It honestly makes me question whether it’s all worth it...
It is worth it @KirstyandJason and There are other venues where we can list.
Air BnB if facing some significant criticism due to bad press in 3areas:
1- disrespectful guests/criminal behaviors, noise, damage (Google Air BnB Los Angeles)
2- alleged racial profiling (cause for new policy being addressed in this thread)
3- negative effects of increasing numbers of short term rentals on the local economy and neighborhood character
I live in the US outside a city in a popular tourist destination. The local municipalities are really cracking down on AirBnBs not only because of irresponsible guests, but because there’s a need for long term housing here that surpasses the availability. The Air BnB profit model has resulted in long term rentals being turned into Air BnBs long term residents and employees previously had access to and need for affordable year round living space. It’s not just here, it’s all over the US, and in other countries. Property owners love the profit potential, but it’s not without its side effects.
Some cities have created laws laws limiting the number of Air BnBs allowed, limited the number of bookings per year, and really cracked down on disturbances of the peace and erosion of the character of family neighborhoods.
Air BnB is aware of this- they’d have to be blind not to be...
...Which is why this tendency to increase restrictions on hosts for what is actually a less prevalent issue resulting in compromised safety and large scale erosion of host rights seems counterintuitive, and possibly more legally questionable than the original issue.
We can list elsewhere. I’m surveying the landscape to see if others allow more control over our businesses. I’ve been 100% loyal to air BnB but when 75% of my booking requests are coming in with incomplete profiles and missing photos resulting in safety and liability concerns and I have no way to productively address that, I’m surveying the competition because I’m simply not ok with that.
TO AIRBNB: I totally agree with the common thread here. We are humans sharing our homes with humans. Airbnb have enough measures in place to determine if a host is overly discriminitive thus should not be a host in the first place WITHOUT removing guest's profile pictures BEFORE a host accepts a reservation.
I choose safety and a positive guest-host experience over income, and shouldn't be penalised for this. As a female living alone and sharing my spare room thus living with my guests (and NOT discriminating between accepting male and female guests to the horror of my parents) I would like to reserve the right to choose whom I allow into my personal living space without penalty. The reason I have successfully hosted for 4+ years is I have been able to have control over whom I let into my personal space. 9 times out of 10 I say 'yes'. I tried instant book but have resorted back to the 'old way' as the penalties were far too strict on instant book. We are NOT hotels after all. I reserve the right to say 'no' if I feel uncomfortable and a profile picture is one of the things I use to decide this. Is this anti-discrimination? I don't agree - there are many things that come into play for a host to say 'no' to a guest. I have hosted over 90 guests and I learnt early on that as hosts, in the name of our safety as well as a positive experience for our guests, we need to trust our instincts on which total stranger/s we accept into our home or not. A profile picture that must be displayed FROM THE ONSET and available to the world is one of the metrics we can use to do this. (let's get real, this is 2019 - there are very few people who do not have a picture of themselves publicaly displayed knowingly or unknowingly. At least here the guest is able to decide on the photo to display LOL).
My sentiments are based on experience: recently I had a negative experience with a guest whom I had had doubts with due to his profile photo. I DIDN'T go with my gut instinct (in the name of discrimination) and ended up spending as much of his stay at a friends place as I was soooooo uncomfortable with him no matter how much I tried not to be. I'm sure he picked up on this so wouldn't have felt comfortable either! Would other's have this reaction to him? Maybe yes maybe no and his reviews purported this. But *I* did and should have trusted my initial instincts. I should have the right to say 'no' without being penalised for this. (as we all know, declining a guest AFTER they have booked comes with very harsh penalties for us hosts)
Thank you @Angela140
You mention more reasons we need to have all the info customarily provided so we can make choices that benefit everyone.
How sad you felt the need to leave your own home because you felt compelled to accept a guest you didn’t feel confident about.
According to commentary in many threads, these “side effects” of policies we have no say in, and the marked change in ABB support when things don’t go well for a host are what’s inspiring many hosts to move on to other platforms.
I agree with the many opinions supporting a photo of a potential guest prior to a confirmed booking. Not only do I share my home I also share some of my time during the residency and I always request an image at the onset of negotiations. This is based on shared trust, common sense, politeness and basic honesty, due to the fact my host image is visible to each request.
In answer to any discrimination during the booking process, as a black woman I would prefer to rent and pay my money in the knowledge I am booking this accommodation with my host’s full awareness of my ethnicity, disability, or any other relevant marginal criteria. The earlier this information is shared the less wasted of time is employed.
I also agree with other hosts who are concerned with extra layers of complications added to the booking process for both guests and hosts.
@Mark0pages previously and everyone...
Mark posed a couple of relevant questions I’ve seen in other threads.
Instant booking...is it inherently discriminatory when it interferes with our access to safety protocols?
What to do when policy changes are made that are not in our best interests to address a transgression we’ve not made?
1- instant booking- Most of the feedback i’ve seen opposed to instant booking echoes the concerns posted in this thread. as a customer service veteran i know cancelling (as instant bookers we’re only allowed 3 per year without being penalized btw...) when you cancel a booking, it sits more poorly with the guest than an initial decline.
Another common aspect to these threads addressed the increased profits for ABB as the corporation pockets the fee regardless of whether the reservation is fulfilled, and ...if we cancel, we pay the fee, and have our dates blocked.
Many just respondents expressed that they’d be happy to pay ABB a higher booking percentage for better service and the ability to approve our bookings. It won’t make any difference in the guests front end, and is likely to decrease cancellations and assiciated headaches.
This could be a win-win and resolve all kinds of issues while boosting our safety, trust, and autonomy as a business owner.
The bottom line will always be priority in a traditional business. ABB wants those booking fees. It’s paying off big time....and with the recent scandals in LA (and other issues that don’t make the mainstream news), have to wonder if the Management isn’t stressing about thier million dollar coverage promise resulting in declines of legitimate smaller host claims...which is also mentioned in other threads.
Either way, ABB is growing, meaning profits are too or they wouldn’t keep doing it....and so is the competition.
Independent hosts are what this company was built upon, that focus is what attracted me to this venue, and has deterred me from listing with the big wholesalers...and right now, diversifying might not be a bad thing if they have better safety, screening, and host support standards...the feedback i’ve seen from those who’ve diversified has mixed reviews...they demand larger fees...but will also blacklist legit bad guests.
2- what to do about policy changes that are not in our best interests?
Im not interested in letting this pass without being heard. So far the only actual venue to provide direct feedback to ABB is through that fairly well hidden feedback link...which isn’t responded to. Complaining to support has no value and the reps will send you to the feedback link stating management is more likely listen to us....but they don’t respond so who knows?
Since this thread was posted by “admin” maybe it will be read by management. I hope that means our legitimate concerns about safety, legal rights, and the possibility of discriminating against all hosts fir the actions of a few... are being heard and will responded to in a way that considers our legitimate concerns and allows a dialogue.
In most nations, citizens and businesses legally have final say over who enters thier private space. Pressing “accept” reservation directly effects us, and makes us appear complicit should anything go awry with a booking, because we agreed based on the information provided, even though it was limited by management and we protested the policy. It also allows ABB to take the same legal stance if there’s a problem,
3 of the last 4 requests for booking had incomplete profiles with no photo. That’s 75%, and that’s not ok with me. I’ve implemented the suggestion of another woman concerned about safety issues and requested (in the listing) that all who request to stay in my home complete thier profile and add a recent facial photo, just as I have, so we can recognize each other when I welcome them.
Is that discrimination or wise discernment?
If someone wants to report me to ABB for racial profiling, they can look over my reviews and note the name of my cottage and see otherwise.
I feel very strongly that our rights about knowing who’s asking to enter our private space need to be respected along with those who suggest racial profiling, and unless they’re choosing to be an uncharacteristic ally silent majority here, I get the sense any practicing racial profilers are likely to be a minority in this diverse global community. As I see it, diversity is a strong reason we thrive.
There are some great ideas shared and points made in this thread and others that offer “win-win” strategies while honoring everyone’s dignity.
When I was in customer service management, I encouraged productive inclusive dialogue amongst all effected through meetings, surveys, and written means if they wanted to remain anonymous. It opened us to rich opportunity, insight, and unrecognized talent we never would have known about otherwise.
There are collectively thousands of years of experience within our host ranks. We’ve all done something in life besides being an ABB host, and it could be considered wasteful not to source this rich community for perspective and solutions.
So...with all due respect and gratitude for the ability to operate a business I love...here we are Air BnB!
What say you?
Of the 2 years I’ve been doing this ,as a Superhost the whole time the only time I have had to say no to a booking was because I have a full time job and didn’t have time to clean before hand. I’m a single woman and I feel that government ID’s should be required on any booking and although I’ve had nothing but wonderful people since I’ve started I still want to know who’s staying in my home especially if they have never used Airbnb before.
Ive asked several newbies to complete thier profile and they’ve asked me why should they.
aside from inspiring the feeling i don’t want to host anyone that would oppose that, i decided to explore deeper.
when i explained i’m opening my home. my private space and my possessions and my property to them, they seem stunned.
how is it they could even get through the registration process without encountering that detail?
has Air BB completely done away with the basic ideals that created it?
im tempted to create a new profile and save screen shots just to see what it’s like.
Airbnb administration : Dont You see that Your whole community are against of Your unclear idea with photo hiding. And I see here a lot of solid comments..Im shoked that you still completely ignore your clients explanations. Is not it a time to put thing back? Did not You know that some people like very much their photo to be posted everywhere and You may also violate their rights by blocking it by your sole decision during booking process? I dont understand ..Where Logik? .Why You start put sand into well working machine? What happened? ...
When you check into a hotel/motel, by law - you need to present a government issued ID. And your card is swiped for any incidentals and damages.
And.... Unlike Airbnb host - the hotel has a security system with access to database that can flag undesired individuals and alert the hotel
How does this new policy makes hosts more secure?
How does Airbnb protects the host’s home from bad guests that trash can the home, or hookers using your home for their business?
I guess the no screening policy (under the pretrence of no descrimination) is the answer!!