Thanks for all of your feedback on the recent changes we announced to the guest profile photo process. Our team has read each and every one of your comments. We understand many of you are feeling frustrated right now, so we want to respond with some more details and clarification.
First, we want to acknowledge that this is a complicated and emotional topic: It touches on elements such as discrimination, choice, safety, and equality between Airbnb hosts and guests. As always, we’ve been really impressed by the quality of the conversations, and the supportiveness of the community in this thread. We’ve had significant discussion and debate about it internally at Airbnb, too. It’s clear that we need to keep listening and engaging with you (our hosts and partners) on this topic, and we commit to continuing to do so.
At the same time, it’s important that we also continue to take guest concerns into account. Most guests do provide a profile photo, but others told us that they didn’t want to share a picture of themselves when booking on Airbnb because they’re concerned their photos could be misused in a way that violates Airbnb’s nondiscrimination policy. As you know, Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where people can belong anywhere, and we want to make sure guests can feel comfortable when they travel on Airbnb.
We also know from many conversations with hosts (and from reading through your comments here) that you really value profile photos, for several important reasons (knowing what guests look like before they arrive, feeling safer, etc.). We always want to balance the needs of both hosts and guests and, at the same time, make sure we’re working towards Airbnb’s mission. It can be exceptionally hard to get that balance right, but we tried to do this with these recent changes.
As we highlighted in our previous post, the new policy means that Airbnb will not require guests to provide a profile photo and that, for those guests who choose to provide a profile photo, those photos will not be shown to hosts until after the booking is accepted. At the same time, we introduced a new host control that allows you to opt in to require that your guests provide a profile photo prior to submitting a booking request. This photo will be shown to hosts as soon as you accept the booking request, so you’ll be able to ensure you know what your guests look like before they arrive. In addition, you can always require your guests to provide a government ID to Airbnb, as well (more on that here).
Here are a few more tips to help you build trust with guests before a trip:
Now, there are a few key themes we read in your comments about these changes, and we want to take a few minutes to address each of them:
Safety: Many of you mentioned that you’re not comfortable hosting someone who doesn't want to show their face, and some of you pointed out that you’re in challenging situations (remote locations and solo female hosts, for instance). This is an incredibly important topic. We’ve read through your responses, and we are committed to looking for ways to build trust between guests and hosts in all situations.
We’d like to extend an invitation to the engaged host community following this thread. Our home safety team is brainstorming ideas for how we could improve your experience and ensure you feel more safe hosting. While we have lots of ideas, we know the best solutions will come from listening to you, so we’d like to connect directly. Please let us know in the comments, below.
Timing: Many of you asked when you would see the changes to the guest profile photo process occur. We’re rolling them out gradually, as we often do with new products or processes. Currently, these changes have been introduced to 75% of hosts globally, and in the coming weeks will be available to 100% of hosts.
Profile photos: A number of you raised concerns about profile photos that show a picture of a sunset or the guest’s dog instead of the guest themselves. We have updated our policies to address these concerns. If you choose to turn on the new control and require that your guests have a profile photo, you can call Airbnb’s Community Support if you accept a reservation from a guest that does not have a profile photo of themselves. Our Community Support team will work with you to address the situation. If you feel uncomfortable hosting someone without a photo of themselves, you can request to cancel the reservation penalty-free. (We recommend messaging the guest directly before cancelling.)
Discrimination: We do not condone discrimination by any member of the Airbnb community. These changes are part of our commitment to combating discrimination. Many of you responded that you believe these changes were unnecessary because you share our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We appreciate that feedback and can’t overstate the importance of having a host community that is engaged on this topic. Nonetheless, guests have consistently told us that they have concerns about hosts making decisions based on profile photos in violation of our Non-discrimination policy. We believe the changes to how we display photos addresses these concerns while balancing hosts’ interest in seeing potential guests before they arrive. Making these changes was an incredibly complex decision, for all the reasons you raised, but after significant debate (and working with many experts on this topic), we decided they were crucial changes to make.
Thank you for continuing to give us feedback and support as we strive to continue improving Airbnb for both hosts and guests. We hope you understand that we needed to make these changes to ensure a world of belonging and inclusivity. Please continue to tell us how we can improve, and we’ll continue to listen and adjust as we work to ensure you can feel comfortable and confident hosting.
The Airbnb Team
I have always accepted guests no matter what race they are, but I do object to taking down photos until the guests book. Here's my story: I got a request for a booking from a young man, but when I looked at his profile he had posted a photo of himself shooting the finger at the camera and his buddy behind him shooting some kind of gang sign, I refused his request. Airbnb tried to get me to accept him after they told him to change his photo, but what they failed to understand is, I am not accepting someone into my home that has the poor judgement to present himself shooting the finger as his introduction to a host! If his judgement is so poor to have done that, there is no telling what kind of other poor judgement calls this could lead to. As far as I am concerned he should have been disqualified by Airbnb all together. I know this is about being fair to all, but Airbnb needs to be fair to us all, that includes the hosts, we are your livelihood! So without seeing a photo; I accept another individual with poor judgement who has presented himself in a way that makes me uncomfortable with him and his photo, you are stuck and have no recourse but to cancel and get a damaging hit to your ratings or accept someone I am not comfortable with. Hard choice!
Safety first. If you are not comfortable...make it clear to Airbnb you dont feel SAFE hosting that person. If Airbnb bullies you into accepting a reservation from someone you are not feeling safe hosting and something happens thats a major liability issue for THEM.
You can ALWAYS refuse to host people you feel are UNSAFE guests. If Airbnb indicates they will punish you for refusing someone lodging who scares you...or makes you feel uncomfortable ..ask for a supervisor..explain its a safety issue and mention that its also a legal issue ...THEIR policy indicates SAFETY is the first consideration...Airbnb should not DISCRIMINATE against you or retaliate against you for refusing to host someone you dont feel is safe having in your home. Thats YOUR CALL...not theirs to make.
I have clearly posted on my listing that I have police officers as neighbors and I dont tolerate misbehavior. I also post in my " guest" reviews episodes of misbehavior so other hosts can benefit from knowing how the guest behaved in my home.
Quoted from Airbnb forum @Airbnb
"At the same time, it’s important that we also continue to take guest concerns into account. Most guests do provide a profile photo, but others told us that they didn’t want to share a picture of themselves when booking on Airbnb because they’re concerned their photos could be misused in a way that violates Airbnb’s nondiscrimination policy. As you know, Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where people can belong anywhere, and we want to make sure guests can feel comfortable when they travel on Airbnb."
Because guests have different opinions about showing or not showing profile photo, why don't Airbnb provide an option for a guest to choose showing or not showing the profile photo when they submit their request?
As for the excuse of nondiscrimination policy, as discussed by many people, it is a valid statement. For a discriminating host, it will always be the case whether a profile photo is shown or not. To reduce the risk due to discrimination, it is better to know that before a guest checks in than after checkin. A guest only loses the chance to be booked from a discriminating host when a photo is shown when a booking request is sent. But a guest may lose the life when the guest stays in a house from a discriminating host.
Not having guest information except a name and no profile photo ?? -- I once had two guys make bookings, a week apart, and I thought it was the same guy because they had the same unusual first name (like Tori or something). When he arrived at the first place we texted details. The next week the other guy came and I thought it was the same guy, so I joked about something that happened at the first place, and this new guy must have thought I was nuts!
Also, not having a profile photo means I can't be sure if the booking is for someone I had before who I don't want back.
And, if I see a profile photo of a person lighting a match to a Canadian flag for example, or doing some other stupid thing like wearing a diaper while sucking on a soother, do I really want that person staying at my unit??
And finally, if hosts are racist and Airbnb is forcing them to take bookings for people they don't actually want or accept, is that going to solve their racism? I don't think so. I think instead it sets up the guests for a bad stay with people that are not worldly, and not nice.
My two cents.
I can't even believe Airbnb doesn't require government issued ID for every Guest -- this means if someone trashes the place Airbnb can't even prove who that person is. SHEESH!
Having an accurate, up to date profile picture is paramount toward safety. Air BNB will NOT listen to the urgent need to have this on each members profile. When contacting them I am told that a guests profile picture does not have to be them individually but can be any picture they wish to post. I see many photos of group pictures where one has no idea which one is the specific guest they will host, pictures of their pets without including them in the picture, pictures of gardens, flowers, and other non-human photos. The contact at Air BNB state it is up to the member what picture they want to post, and once they have been verified, they do not care what picture shows up on the profile.
I have decided to ask each guest upon their arrival for a photo id before they enter to stay. Main reason is that there are numerous instances say where they are in a group picture, anyone in the group can show up as the verified guest and not been prior approved which puts the host at potential risk.
This happens frequently, as has been my experience, where organizations that handle foreign travelers will go through the verification process, act and communicate to the host they are the one who will arrive when in reality someone else arrives for the stay i.e. a woman profile and reservation and a man whom has never been through the approval process shows up for the stay and with limited English tries to explain that someone else made the reservation and they are part of a larger travel group.
So, ASK for proof of ID and take a photo you can return when they leave.
BTW, I highly doubt if any of these concerns reach the highest level in the company. Perhaps about time everyone should personally write them since all of our concerns have safety risk issues, fraud guests, and possible insurance issues.
You need to change your thinking and policies on guests photos and reviews. You are putting your host in danger and we are your money makers. You do not even let us see the guests reviews unless we instant book. I did instant book and got more instant cancelations and lost business because of it. Listen to your hosts, read their feedback, look on the community board. These issues are being SHOUTED OUT AT YOU!!!!! Why are you not listening???????