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 absolutley agree with Duda how can you stop using photos....
I have been a faithful user both guest and host for many years
This will be catastrophic. We came along all these years building trust and transparency you stand for. We urge you to not have this update. The photos are the only way we can verify guests when they arrive.
Like Serena I am a 75 year old lady living alone and renting a room in my private home. I have just received a booking from a young man who appears to be naked and although he has been a member of Airbnb since 2016 he has no reviews which raised a red flag, but what can I do but see how this pans out as he was an instant book. I will be petrified all night until he leaves the next morning. Cant cancel for fear of discrimination? Why don't hosts get an address also of the guests - they have all our details.
Please ensure your bedroom can be locked from both sides, so it is not accessible when you are out. If you are uncomfortable and fear for your safety, contact Airbnb to cancel as you feel unsafe. Do not cancel the booking yourself.
Helene, Cathie's advice is correct. Call Airbnb to cancel a reservation you are uneasy with. Getting them to do it won't affect your rating. Definitely stay safe!
At a bare minimum, airbnb needs to get government ID from every single guest from now on, if we don't have their photo, or any ability to screen them, then airbnb needs to beef up the criteria for participation in the platform. Government ID, trip details, email, phone, home address must be taken and stored by airbnb for everyone.
Hello Mark please read my post it is two posts above yours. We won't be able to tell if the person who is at your property legitimately booked your place by only having the ID verification process securely stored by airbnb if we have nothing to compare to when they arrive. You don't know their faces so it doesn't matter if the account have a verified ID. You will start getting 3rd party bookings and not even know about it. 3rd party bookings are not covered by airbnb host guarantee.
Please contact airbnb here: https://www.airbnb.com/help/contact_us/message
I totally found this out the hard way recently when a "Guest" booked same day, 1 guest, 1 night, then contacted me to ask if they check in early as they were on their way to work in my area. I have a self contained unit, attached to but separate from my home. I checked they were verified and they were and all seemed above board so I agreed and went off to work and didn't check anything else as I assumed - incredibly worngly- that airbnb had the security of this covered. However, to my horror i looked at the booking at 3 pm between clients to discover that the credit card had been declined. Phoned airbnb who were very reluctant to give me any details, told me it was a drivers licence and the full name. Long story short, BY this stage, they had arrived, 4 of them, with beer and drugs, broken into my home, stolen our laptops, and my husband called me to come home. I called the police to come and evict them. They wouldn't. Airbnb basically washed their hands of them because the card declined so the booking was not confirmed . There were now 5 of them in my unit, drinking and high. I knew one of them, an ice-addict and dealer, nasty piece of work, which was why i called the police. I went up and demanded payment. Called police 4 times. They did not come. They came the following morning. I could smell the beer and the weed through 2 locked doors drifting into my part of the house. They left before I, or the police could get to them in the morning. Turned out the 'guest' with the drivers licence was only 16 so he had forged that document. And the other guest was another drug dealer. I never did get paid. And they stole things from the unit and my house. And spilled beer all over the carpet. And airbnb wanted nothing to do with it. They called the guest who then told them they had not even stayed because I had cancelled the booking!!! **bleep** cheek. So I called airbnb to demand they delete or blacklist this guests profile but they were not confident they could do this either. I feel very nervous now about taking bookings from airbnb at the last minute-even though i have never had a problem before now.
How terrible! At the very least, I guess you won’t accept same day reservations anymore!!
I am so sorry this happened to you!
As a frequent Airbnb guest as well as a host, I see the problems looming as Air Bnb tries to become Booking.com.
We don’t have the staff, in-house security, and corporate insurance but we are now on the same playing field with hotels who do.
After considering so many relevant and valuable points offered in this thread and my own concerns, I’ve sent detailed feedback to Air BnB.
Heres the link to provide feedback:
If we want create what we believe in and keep it safe to do business in this forum, it’s in our best interests to speak up and continue to until we are heard and these valid concerns are effectively remedied in ways that benefit all.
Its also been shared in these forums that Tweets get a better response, so please consider that as well.
The more of us that speak up and provide feedback, the more likely it is that we will make some progress.
These new policies , which we had no input in creating, violate our trust, safety, and rights as property owners.
Heres what I wrote:
I love what I do and have been 100% loyal to Air BnB.
I am very concerned about the new policy culling the requirements for completed profiles, government issued photo ID’s, verified methods of payment, and guest photos before booking.
I am not a racist, as proven by my diverse guest list and reviews. I’m a 5-star superhost who appreciates and offers excellent hospitality to all races, gender preferences, and ethnicities.
I have a right to know and approve of who will be coming onto my property and staying in my home. Taking away that right is not only a violation of the rights of millions of hosts, it’s an affront to our personal safety and homes.
Since this policy was implemented all but one request to stay has been from prospective guests who had incomplete profiles, and some without verified payment methods.
This is unacceptable.
My property is private and remote and I am a single woman living alone. It is prudent for me to screen my guests. Right now I’m feeling discriminated against by this policy, and by the looks of things in the forums, many other hosts of all genders, races, and ethnicities are as well. Is it really worth it to punish all of your hosts for the alleged actions of a few?
Is that the best management can do?
I have to post my photo and complete my host profile. So do other hosts who are women and men of color. What’s to keep some anarchist skin head from booking one of their homes and showing up with an attitude to do some damage?
With no consistency, photos, or verifications required, we are all at risk...including ABB. If corporate has been spooked by the recent bad press, damages, and mayhem in LA Air BnBs and a handful of alleged racial profiling, imagine the chaos that will result after your recent policy changes have some time to simmer and that demographic finds out Air BnB invites them in with no questions asked!
It makes no sense to make things less safe, and with all due respect the risks this policy change creates makes me question the creativity, acumen, and overall future Air BnB envisions for itself.
By limiting our ability to screen our guests, you are directly compromising our safety...and your reputation.
By limiting our access to features only allowed for “instant booking” hosts, you are practicing discrimination against many hosts who need to prescreen every guest, and superhosts who don’t want to be penalized for cancelling instant bookings that don’t bode well, and also guests who are new to this platform...while you make it easier for frauds, pimps, drug dealers, and human traffickers to make Air BnB thier go-to.
The feedback from respectful vetted guests is that the process has become increasingly cumbersome, confusing, and tiresome with regard to searches, pricing transparency, the increasingly complicated review process.
It is commonplace in the hospitality industry to require positive goverment photo ID and matching credit/debit card to confirm that the person booking is who shows up and stays. People expect that, and anyone who opposes that likely has something to hide.
Another concern is, if the guest who shows up isn’t the one who booked (even due to outright fraud) the host loses Air BnBs advertised million dollar liability coverage for damages based on the “3rd party” rule, which is also very disturbing.
I love what I do, and most of all love meeting the great people who’ve walked into my home as guests.
Independent hosts have been the backbone of Air BnBs pioneering rise to the top.
For the first time, I feel anxiety and concern over who’s going ask to book, and who’s actually going to be driving up the hill expecting to stay in my remote, quiet sanctuary.
This new policy does not protect anyone from discrimination. It opens the doorway to fraud and mayhem, and inspires me to look to the competition for my own safety, comfort, and piece of mind.
We should be creating more safety for everyone, not less, and far more creative and sensitive responses to racism than this, and I’m asking for that before I take my business elsewhere.
I offer my gratitude for the opportunity that drew me here, respect for the principles that attracted me and millions of other 5-star super hosts that helped make Air BnB great, and hope this will be a point of transformation rather than parting of ways.
I ask that you consider how this and other discriminatory and short-sighted policy and internal processes effect this community’s host and guest safety and sustainability and fix this and other growing concerns with win-win solutions before it explodes in everyone’s face.
I whole heartedly agree! As a superhost I have never discriminated. I want to see a picture of the guest WHEN THEY MAKE THE REQUEST. And I don't want to see a picture of their cat or a tree, I want a picture of the guest who will be coming to my door.
I emphatically disagree with this change. The balance is yet again swinging towards guests rather than hosts. Hosts generally have a profile photo. Is Airbnb now going to block these photos? I doubt it. Guests get to see a profile of the host and their accomodation and to read many reviews so they get a pretty good idea of what they're coming into whereas hosts are often in the dark about potential guests. We are a family home with 2 daughters and need to be careful who we let through our doors. The net result of this change is that hosts will become MORE cautious. They will want guests who have had at least a few positive reviews, will want to ask more questions of enquirers etc. If you are going for a job interview you will often be asked for profile photo as well as a lot of detail about yourself. Whilst I agree that there may be some discrimination from some hosts, don't penalize all hosts because of the actions of a few!!
I understand discrimination is a real problem, but this is completely the wrong way to go about it. Airbnb works because it is a strong community that allows hosts to be comfortable letting strangers into their home. The profile picture fosters that community by letting you feel like you’re interacting with a real human. And as many people have said, it matters how that person presents themself to you in that photo (there’s a reason doors have peepholes!)
What’s really the bigger issue here? That someone might unjustly have to look for another rental or that someone’s home and lifetime of belongings is destroyed? Maybe if you’re running an apartment solely for Airbnb and filling it with cheap ikea furnishing you’re fine just collecting on the the insurance. But for those of who have our whole lives in our space money won’t matter if something goes wrong. If someone is frequently rejecting based on race Airbnb can easily see that and and ban them. But let everyone else have a modicum of comfort over who they’re trusting the keys to their home to.
I disagree with this new system. It is so important on many levels to be able to see your guests that are a making a booking to be staying at your home.
I live as a native New Yorker, (Coney Island born & raised in both Brooklyn/NYC) I accept and deeply appreciate our earths many beautiful different cultures, skin tones, customs and my ultimate favorite, FOOD.
My father, (a Cuban immigrant from the late 50’s and a cousin to Castro) always instilled in me never to judge by appearances, but instead to judge by character or simply by the way they treat you. I don’t judge anyone by appearance ever. Prejudice has no place in my life for any reason, EVER.
That being said, I am a new “host”. Started hosting in December 26th, 2018. I am however a three year cleaning lady for a dear friend and Superhost of an Airbnb. So I was familiar with cleaning and judging of how a guest left my friend’s Airbnb so that he may review. I also have been a landlord of my rental property (now Airbnb) since 2000.
I would like to see the faces of both guests as well as hosts for the first and formost reason of I want to know ahead of time who I am to expect to be in my home. I would like to be able to recognize at least one person dwelling on my property.
You see, in my case I live only 5 houses away. I lived in my neighborhood 30 years. My immediate neighbor across the street from my rental property is the local magistrate for goodness sakes. Everyone who is a land owner knows everyone else in our neighborhood. In my case, it be hooves me to know my guests, or at least ONE of them. Know them by sight and know their reason for their stay. I don’t need much more.
I like to offer total privacy, but I am very close by.
All I wanted to say was I like the picture. I think we all should have photos at least just to recognize each other.
I really like Airbnb.