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
Lizzie, None of us are concerned once the guest has booked....we are concerned with the removal of information before the guest has booked.
As I said, if the guest has chosen not to provide a photo......fine, we deal with that and have the mechanism in the booking process to request an acceptable photo prior to acceptance....we are covered!
Lizzie, a single female host has the right to see and assess the stranger would is requesting a stay in her property, not just be told what a great person they may be, male or female.
I use myself as an example! My name Robin, is an asexual name, I could be a man or I could be a woman...in fact Andrea from Amsterdam for more than year here thought I was a woman!!!
How exactly can that female host establish that (without going through the whole identication procedure and requesting and seeing a visual image again) before she accepts the booking?
Can you understand that, you are asking guests to reverify themselves to the host again and this would not be neseccary if that visual image that the guest was quite happy to provide to Airbnb had been available, as it should have been.
Lizzie, I can see a massive rise in third party booking requests, because the account holder has visual anonimity prior to booking........ and will work on the presumption that the host will take the risk and not go through the hassle of cancelling the reservation once he finds out that the guest is not the actual person they are supposed to be, but some sort of relation or friend. Remember the host is only allowed a few penalty free cancellations in a one year period and this policy will be sorely tested!!
Lizzie, it is obvious to us in the hosting community this has not been put in place to minimise discrimination. It has been put in place to restrict the number of host declines for what the host sees as legitimate personal grounds.
I want to see this platform continue to grow, but all initiatives like this are going to do is divide the hosting community yet further and cause a high percentage of good responsible hosts to take their business elsewhere.
This initiative will turn out to be counter productive!
Thank you @Rob82 for sharing a point of view that has distinctive merit and struck several chords with me.
We live thousands of miles from each other, share a similar hosting style, and it's clear that we love what we do and that our guests do too.
I'm going out on a limb to share my respectful observation that very valid points have been clearly made in thousands of posts by concerned hosts, and based on their clarity and numbers, and the ability airbnb management has to access them, been overlooked. This is not about racial or ethnic profiling and the population of hosts that choose NOT to instant book for safety and personal reasons are being completely ignored. Seeing the photo after the fact is blantant discrimination against hosts who choose to operate thier business in ways that work for them, and i ways that have made airbnb billions.
Yes, these new policies are also negatively impacting guests' experience, and putting guests vulnerable to racial profiling, and ALL hosts at greater risk. I've had more than one guest share that they're not happy with many recent changes, including having to wade through pages of hotels and property management listings just to find a "real" airbnb, and making host reviews more complicated.
I actually had a frustrated guest who went above and beyond to put my mind at ease and truly opened my eyes about the position hosts are in. I kept asking polite questions, and they stated thier profile was already complete, and asked me why they had to repeat themselves. Embarassed at seeming so inept, I replied honestly that there was a "platform glitch" and I was unable to view thier profile. They wanted to send me a screen shot of thier profile but couldn't, just as we're unable to exchange phone numbers and email addresses in messaging.
I clicked on another window I had open to check my email a few minutes later. There was a "priority" email that included a scan of a business card for an employee of one of the most prominent investigative government agencies in the US and itincluded the same first name as my prospective guest.
The body of the email explained it was indeed from my prospective guest who apologized, asked me not to be alarmed, and to forgive the quick "forensics investigation" to find my email.
The prospective guest further explained they understood my position of vulnerability regarding the "platform glitch" and wanted to put my mind at ease that they weren't "meth heads trying to crash my place," just a hard working person wanting a quiet weekend away at the coast with thier spouse, they loved my listing, and the privacy and quiet it offered, and hoped they could stay.
I've hosted writers, actors, artists, and politicians, none of whom had the clearance to access information like this guest did, so needless to say I warmly accepted that request to book, and they turned out to be very gracious and appreciative and left me another 5-star review, and some sound advice about the alarming level of legal vulnerability these new policies expose hosts to in my jurisidiction, and others.
Dear @Airbnb I’m glad you mention safety so feel free to look at a message stream in my inbox.
Last week I got an enquiry on Sunday for Monday ( no faces from a couple ‘Sid and Nancy’ nothing on their profile apart from the letter S asking to pay on arrival as they had already drawn this money out in readiness) I gave them the sorry but no can do message and wished them good luck.
Half an hour later ‘ping’ an instant booking for another couple ‘Fred and Ginger’ (also no reviews or profile who booked that very same Monday. No way of knowing if they were actually the same couple? I’m not sure how difficult it is to set up a fake personna.
Just lately I’m feeling not so safe.
I note the reference to use house rules in the opening post. The issue is that guests simply don’t read the house rules despite them apparently agreeing to abide by these. On two recent occasions when I have raised issues about both compliance with ToS by guests and also guests flouting house rules, CS staff simply responded that this was my perception and refused to even entertain the idea that a guest may actually not comply with house rules. This is despite my having hard evidence that supports my ‘perception’. Suggesting hosts tighten up house rules is pointless if the host attempts to enforce their house rules and guests are simply supported by AirBNB to flout house rules and your own ToS.
Did you get another from "Bonnie and Clyde" or "Batman and Catwoman?"
Forgive my cynicism...
airbnb is fast becoming the new "craigslist" as a playground for scammers, while other platforms are creating more safeguards.
I've actually been propositioned...literally asked to "hook up" via a message from a fake profile. Nothing was done, and no, I'm not making this up.
This has happened to me also and why we insist on a complete profile WITH PHOTO! before booking. I have also had one party/person make the reservation but another person show up at my door not knowing that I do not allow 3rd party reservations. Airbnb is making it harder for hosts, and more dangerous, by not allowing photo and profile information to be displayed until after booking. Shame on Airbnb!
First , Excuse my language .
“Dodo would like to stay on Feb-21 Feb 23”
Dodo has 0 reviews, 0 verifications, gender/age not showing, no location and even the profile pic is not showing.
How do you expect me to accept this kind of requests? but with a profile picture ? maybe
My place is in a family building which is surrounded by hotels, bars,clubs,.. etc
Hotels, apartments there are mostly booked for prostitution porposes, they book 1-3 days and sometimes for more than a month.
For me I reject any request from male local guests or female from (some countries) i am not discriminating, but I don’t want my place to be used for these purposes. And it is not nice to ask the guest if they are a prositutes or going to bring any.
What if they do? Without me knowing.. is airbnb going to make it up for my reputation
In the building ?
Even if I mention that in the discription, guests don’t read discriptions! I get many one bedroom requests from guests want an entire apartment! Many guests can’t read english!
Again, a profile picture helps a lot , I already rejected 7 requests since this update
I'm serious about finding an airbnb alternative
The following is a "cut and paste" from my Reservation Details for a guest who has booked my listing:
Where is the concern for hosts who feel that guests are discriminating against them because you REQUIRE a host photo? Or worse, those that fear being targeted by shifty guests because of their race, gender, sexuality, or age?
It would seem to me, if you were a miniority host, you would have the same fears as guests regarding safety and security and yet, you've failed to address this dicrimination at all. Is it because a guest won't feel safe selecting a home if they can't see who will be answering the door when they arrive?
As hosts, you do want to see what someone looks like before "handing over the keys" to them. We put a lot of money in buying, upgrading and furnishing a very nice waterfront suite. I do not want to hand it over to someone who has a picture of a cartoon as their profile picture. As hosts, a lot of the time the people that make requests have no reviews, no government ID's, you don't know thier age and now no picture. We want to make sure we are not renting to irresponsible people who might destroy your investment. A Profile picture can tell a lot about a person. It just seems Airbnb is putting hosts at more of a risk.
Yes, we can decline them after accepting them but that negatively effects our Superhost status.
"Here are a few more tips to help you build trust with guests before a trip:"
So now we have to ask them the purpose of their trip. That is personal info that some guests might get offended by us asking. Especially, if we have to tell them the reason doesn't meet our renting standards.
The guests I'm trying to prevent from booking are not going to respect the House Rules anyways.
And again, many of the requests we get the guests have no reviews. I would have to decline 70% of the requests. No reviews, no ID's, and now no pics just makes it more frustrating be a host.
We have rented to all types of people from all over the world so we can not be called guilty of discrimination. We just want to see what a person looks like before we accept them. We have a lot of money invested in being able to provide an above average place and we want to protect it.