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've been providing guest accommodation for 18 years and have maintained a excellent feedback, a high standard of accommodation and good relations with the community because I am very careful about who stays. I've had some bad experiences in the past but have enjoyed hosting airbnb guests over the years because I am reassured by the checks made on guests and particularly by their profile pictures. Where no photo is provided I generally refuse the booking request. Whilst I do not discriminate against guests for any of the reasons listed, I will think twice before accepting someone who's picture suggests they are rowdy drinkers. This change will undermine my confidence in what I do and I'm very unhappy that I won't be able to see a picture of the guest before I accept their booking and afterall they can see a picture of me - and my home!
Being an intuitive I base my decison of who I decide to invite into my family home with my children on the guests photo. I do not understand why AIR BNB have put the guests wishes ahead of the hosts? We are the people who are providing for you AIR BNB and the guests.
As I guest I happily supply my photo so the host too can see who they are sharing their own space with...
Openess is love and if the guests aren't wanting to share their face prior to booking I say why?
Can AIR BNB please explain this further? I would like this desicion reversed. I really am agast and seriously thinking of not sharing my home any longer with this new rule.
@Sherrie, you're right, most of the time we can tell by the photo as well as the quality of communication if a person will be a good guest. It's outrageous that Airbnb is making it more difficult for us to run our small businesses safely.
Sherrie, I wholeheartedly agree with you. This change is making me feel quite unnerved.
The guest photo ID is very important to me. We share our home with guests.
Hi everyone. I am not a racist and I am happy to host anyone who has genuine intentions. There is no need to assume I am one !
There is plenty of choices for everyone and we all can have our reasons to accept or decline booking. Photo is very important part of communication.
I had once guests booking for two peoples but asking if I could accomodate third person extra for one night. They had a photo of 4 people's and i assumed there would be 3 girls. I prepared extra mattress in a bedroom. To my surprise there where two boys and one girl, on top of that they where strict Muslims ! I had to improvise and let the girl sleep in leaving room for her comfort. They where very nice and grateful but it gave me extra worry to make sure they comfy and have privacy they paid for.
Also leaving alone and renting room , I need to know who I'm going to share my leaving space with.
I think ,my good will to allow strangers set a foot in my home is already prove I'm not a prejudist.
I am trusting person , so whoever is coming to stay with me should be same and not be afraid to show their face.
I can understand Airbnb not wanting to be liable for discrimination violations, however, these are our homes with our personal belongings, our neighbors, and communities that are affected by our decision to rent our space. I believe it is the responsibility of the host to decide who they are communicating with. I have had many many wonderful guests, but also had a few situations when the person checking in wasn’t who I communicated with, which left me very uneasy. I have adjusted my booking requirements to only accept reservations if the guests have had prior good reviews, and I’ve taken off instant booking to help with my decision making process. Although Airbnb is a great platform, it leans toward to rights of the ‘guest’ more than to the rights of the hosts who put their homes and reputations on the line.
I modified my listing today to state any guests requesting to book need to have a completed profile with a facial photograph, just as I have, so we can recognize each other when I welcome them.
If theyre not ok with that and I lose bookings, I don’t want them in my home.
If Air BnB wants to become known as a low rent scamming venue, so be it. It doesn't mean I can’t protect myself, and no one can accuse me of discrimination because I require it of all guests, and my reviews clearly show I’m not a racist.
strategy source: another host.
theres genius in these ranks!
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.