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.
Our experience has been that younger guests are far more likely to use large amounts of alcohol, have additional guests that exceeds our limit, break house rules, make noise violations that disturb our neighbours, and leave our place a mess or damaged. In fact, this is the ONLY group we’ve experienced trouble with. Removing our ability to see photos BEFORE a booking, removes our ability to screen and question our guests effectively before a booking. We screen our younger guests much more thoroughly, and are more rigourous in our questioning as to their intentions for our place. You may consider it discrimination, but we call it protecting our property, belongings, and our neighbours. This should be our RIGHT as we assume all of the risk if things go badly. Can we really rely on your “security” deposit?? It’s a farce! With no security at all since we have no actual rights to claim against it, in spite of providing proof and photos, even blocking further bookings for repairs and clean up. The guest has to agree in order to draw on the security deposit. If they deny, then too bad for you. The best you can hope to get is a Settlement from AirBnB for a fraction of your claim. The photo allows us to better protect ourselves and our investment. It also protects your guests. Would you want a minority guest arriving at the home of a racist?
We believe that Airbnb was quite unique but no more. The platform owners have just created another “Booking.com” (intentionally?) which competitor platform we have distanced ourselves from recently due to zero profile detail available, maximum of 15% bookings materializing, huge increase in admin tasks, being charged commissions on no shows and then expected to communicate with Chat bots to resolve issues. This competitor platform is used extensively to obtain a Visa address by controversial guests without any recourse available to the host never mind what cancellation policy is in place.
Our now all new negative stance stemming from the following;
We have just received a reservation request and there is now absolutely zero profile information available except for a name not indicating gender which reservation was accepted and LUCKILY turned out to be fine.
We believe this will equate into nothing less than Airbnb hosts now being expected to take total strangers of the street into a family home and is most definitely a BAD call in Johannesburg considered to be no 2 on ratings for the Crime capitol of the world???
After confirmation the guests profile detail was revealed reminding much of the old 'Lucky packets' available in the old days...buying without any knowledge of content and then opening to see what cheap plastic toys you received at the end of the day.
We believe this unlawful major policy shift without user consultation is creating a feeling of NOT BELONGING for hosts, ANAMOSITY and DISTRUST between all users and platform owners and the cherry on top...the obscuring of Profile photos and relevant detail...all apparently in the name of TRANSPARANCY...lol...and all exactly the opposite of the intended effects on all users.
In view of hosts advising that there are nowhere else to turn to, perhaps the time is right for the creation of a new platform where all belong, all is transparent, all users / platform owners are trusted, wellbeing and safety of all is a seen to and a special platform review site like Airbnb Hell does not have a place at all.
I think we are not enough! There are not many owners complaining to Airbnb. Only 25 here:
Only 1000 posts on this site here: that it not enough. There are over 4 million homes here on Airbnb!
The Airbnb management will smile, when they read this post here.
So just say: leave it or love it!
There are also other plattforms where you can rent your homes.
My way: I ask the people who want to stay in my home to their age, full name and a place in the internet (there are lots of ways like Xing .com or linked in) to see them.
If they dont give me the answer, I will not take the booking!
If Airbnb will go to only "direct bookings" I think, then I will go to Booking. You get more money for that higher risk there.
Hi Michael........I checked out that change.org post, after they asked me to check in with facebook (which I left long ago) or my google account they then said they'd get all my info, included my contacts, well no thank you, so I backed out of that so my vote didn't count, I'm guessing many others didn't want to have their info out in the world as well. Our problem is for everyone of us that leave, there's that many more signing up, it's probably going to be a never ending battle.
I too disagree with this new non picture policy. I have phoned airbnb and wrote to them about my displeasure with this policy. I am very close to stopping hosting with these new ridicilious rules thrown on us. I like to see who I am chatting with first before accepting a request. Looking at a random letter of the alphabet is unfair when they can see me and my home. To me this is asign early in 2019 to get out of hosting!
I have a system that works and will find another way to rent my property if i am not provided a picture in advance of accepting a booking request. I ask my guest for their full name and location then use their profile pic to google for any criminal background. It saved me from renting to a guest that was charged with setting fire to his own rental property and booked with fraud. Every airbnb host purchases very expensive home owners insurance policies to which clearly excludes coverage when renting to felons. If airbnb did real background checks this wouldn’t be an issue! Your loss airbnb, I’ll find another way
Discrimination is a two way street, pull the host profile pics too if it’s all about discrimination and not money. Facebook has home rental services and and we can see each other’s profile pics.
Here’s a host of reasons indie hosts aren’t valuable to ABB anymore. They’re diversifying into events airbnb ”plus” properties and “1%” perks that make them a lot more money that our modest singular bookings:
there’s a disclaimer it’s not airbnb, but it just happens to promote airbnb in every aspect of the site, so there’s got to be a link somewhere in the paper trail...
Realy guys...the new Cancellation policy and all other recent negative policy shifts like the obscuring of guests Profile photos has very little effect in real terms and we believe it to possibly have no negative impact on hosts at all.
The problem is not the said Policy shift but rather us old Hosts finding it difficult to adjust to the new challenging Airbnb way where ALL Platform and Listing innards are being ignored in totality by all owners and users alike and including the new ‘Lucky Packet’ guests in collaboration with their Help desk agents from afar.
Airbnb’s provisions together with all host’s listing content may as well be removed together with the cancellation policies and profile photos as everything is disregarded in any case and the only consideration for a booking is price and availability (as confirmed by the majority of recent guest with obscured profiles while using hand held device's for making reservations)
Our own experience has also taught that the review system is now strictly used for blackmailing Hosts with assitance from Help desk agents and reviews are no longer seen as constructive criticism at all but rather as a punitive measure for not obying guests unlawfull demands.
So we are now resting our case and will endeavor to formulate a new Hosting policy to coincide with the sudden Airbnb policy shift without any platform user consultation or deliberation. Please refer the Airbnb hell platform.
PS Perhaps the platform owners should consider employing economical Chat bots on local Help Desks and then oblige guests further by allowing transactions outside of the platform like paying in cash on arrival and then we will finally have an exact replica of the notorious Booking.com we recently delisted from.
I have registered with 2 other booking companies and am hoping for the best.
Here's a prime example of why this ridiculous policy is creating issues for guests as well as hosts:
I almost declined an excellent booking. I kept asking the guest requesting to book for details about why she and her husband wanted to stay to learn enough to feel safe, and she finally asked why, so I told her that the only information I had was a grey circle with her first name.
She said she had provided a full profile years ago and had multiple reviews. She understood why I'd be hesitant to allow anyone into my home with no information or even ID verificiation, so she took a screen shot of her profile and sent it to me. It showed a full facial photo of both of them together, she'd been a member since 2015, and I was able to reference her in incognito mode and see she had 47 positive reviews! Who wouldn't be happy to welcome a guest like that! Can you imagine how the declines are effecting long term Airbnb-ers like this?
She also said she would be contacting ABB to give them an earful about how destructive this attitude is to the community of positivity and trust that's kept her coming back.
So, if anyone's listening in management---you're alienating your long term guests who actually appreciate the personal touch that's kept them coming back for more.
I was able to reference her in incognito mode and see she had 47 positive reviews!
Susan please do elaborate and share this method of reference with the rest of the ignored platform users and those that apparently no longer belong on the platform where all should belong.
Being part of the ignored group we have discovered other venues for voicing our frustrations, there is the link supplied in the profile photo thread, Airbnb hell and the Hello Peter platform that we believe could be impacting more than the thousands of replies received from the Policy shift (without user consultation) blogs that is onbviously designed to contain the disgruntled host's voices.
Considering the numbers we believe it to be impracticable for the platform administrators to open and read every reply as it will take a substantial team a very long time to accomplish this and then we ask ourselves what will they do with all of the negative comment contained, surely not reverse their Authoritarian decisions?
I am totally disgusted with the lopsided discrimination towards hosts.
Who are the other two companies you have registered with?
I would also prefer seeing a picture of the guest before booking(libextheyvused to do) , with more background about why they are coming. We are letting strangers into our homes, not running hotels!