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
You stated, you’ve been listening to guests and hosts alike.
And you asked guests whether they would like to share more or less information about themselves. And guests did indicate, they wanted to share less information about themselves. Which – in these ages – is a little bit, like asking 3-year olds, whether they want more or less candy.
Most people nowadays are somewhat cautious about their digital footprint (and they really should be).
Just some background info, about this subject:
We are (in Portugal) legally obliged to collect and register ID details on all our guests. And in order to make this process as smooth as possible. I always ask our guests to deliver this information to me, prior to their arrival (guests are required to handover these details, by the latest at Check-In).
I always notice some hesitance, from the side of our guests, to deliver this information to me.
All in all, it usually takes us 90 minutes per group, to deal with this particular requirement!
So @Lizzie, I just thought about another idea:
As I’m almost convinced, all guests will be very happy to share a proper profile picture. And by doing so, saving themselves a couple of bucks more.
This is completely in line, with the opinion of Airbnb. For price being the most dominant argument to use Airbnb over any other service.
How about this idea?
I applaud your creativity @Cor but that suggestion still does not address the legal/liability issues NOT requiring photo ID, form of payment, and profile photo matches up front creates for hosts.
In reality, for another 2%, airbnb could do ALL of that and everyone would be safer.
Agree with the comments above.
Airbnb isn’t Booking.com and shouldn’t be the next Booking.com. I would say Airbnb should be more like a match.com.
I used Couchsurfing a lot in my early days of traveling and many years ago I felt the guest and host Blanche in Airbnb is a lot like Couchsurfing the only differences were Airbnb has proper bed/room and shower and of course people pay for it.
Sharing homes is a very special and deep social interaction and that’s what makes Airbnb unique.
If airbnb congratulations trying to make guests experience hotel services then you are going to lost a lot more than that.
Be carful and think deeply about which one should be your primary target group, without good calming hosts you won’t have rooms to sell.
@Airbnb As Toms cohost (Yvonna). I share every one of the previous opinions and reasons cited within this thread so far. I turned off instant book for a few days until the button appeared to require a guest photo. In addition I opted to require all the optional requirements provided to us. And then a warning appeared that we may not get as many bookings blah blah blah. Well I don’t care. It’s not just Tom and I who live in this house under the potential guests, I babysit my very young grand children here on a full time basis. And believe me when I say nobody I feel uncomfortable with will be permitted to book or continue with their booking once a issue arises. My family comes first and no dollar amount is worth the risk. Nameless faceless people can go to a more expensive hotel and book a room. They won’t get a kitchen. They won’t get a dining room. They won’t get a living room. And they won’t get a nice couple to look out for them as visitors to a new place. And as we all know they will be paying more. I agree that guests should be given the option to opt out of information being shared with hosts and then the message should pop up telling them doing so reduces the likelihood of getting a booking. The door should swing both ways. By the way, if I could choose only one guest rating that I would want to see it would be regarding cleanliness. Nobody wants to be cleaning for extra hours after messy guests.
Yes, the door should swing both ways.
While hosts are being penalized for almost everything, there seem to be no consequences for anything a guest does. Five 1* reviews in a row and a guest can still book each and every listing. Why?
I appreciate @Lizzie's diplomacy in moderating this and other controversial threads. It's a far cry from the sweetness of "host spotlight," "the year's highlights," and "what do you love most about hosting?" Thank you for your professionalism @Lizzy.
Sadly, I'm another superhost that concurs with the posts here, which are congruent with thousands of posts by hosts in other threads that airbnb management also has complete access to individually, in totality, and algorhytmically, as with everything that happens on this platform.
Airbnb also has immense technological capability to create and implement far better services than other booking sites do for the same price, with the added charm that made this platform unique...and tens of billions of dollars and counting.
This platform began as two guys sponteneously renting out/subletting floor space in thier San Francisco Bay Area apartment to fellow registered conference participants to try to make rent (under the radar). It now spans the globe, and numerous legal jurisdictions, many of which are trying to figure out what to do with it. The result is, any change made in the structure of this service has local and global impact on assets, experiences, and legalities. It's a huge set of varaibles to coordinate, and it's not been met with unanimous acceptance by regulating authorities for various reasons surrounding the needs of hosts, guests, and communities.
A recent guest with significant credentials recently advised that each and every one of us needs to seek qualified legal advice in our own jurisdiction about how short term hosting and the specific services of any booking entity impacts our physical and financial safety, legal rights and responsibilities, various levels of personal and property liability and insurance, and how that intersects with any statements, insurance, and contractual obligations of the booking service, and compatibility with local laws and governance.
I have been advised by qualified legal counsel in my jurisdiction that airbnb's current policies create significant, multilevel risk for me as a host, and for my guests. To close the gaps in airbnb's services I need to add several administrative/legal layers to my hosting, including valid governemt issued picture ID verifications and cross checking with each guest arrival and physical appearance match, collecting and managing security deposits, insurance claims, and creating and obtaining signatures on legal contracts if I am to protect my investments, personal safety, and that of my guests while they are on my property, just as anyone does when checking into a hotel or a professionally managed vacation rental.
This is about professional integrity and reputation as well as doing business safely and legally for everyone, including aibnb. It's no longer just a couple of 20-something guys renting out floor space for a few bucks to a specific, pre-screened set of guests. This is a global community of private and corporate providers that include hotels, individuals, and familes offering amazing hospitality and authentic travel opportunities to travelers in various global demographics.
Given the global nature of this business and the scope of these huge financial, legal, and liability issues, it's incredibly disconcerting that so much energy is being directed to some incidents of racial/ethnic discrimination that, while being emotionally compelling, amounts to a drop in the ocean of the widespread, critical, fundamental, global risk to physical and financial security for increasing numbers that interact on this platform and the enormous legal implications to airbnb as a whole and each and every hosting entity and guest involved with this platform.
I'm sure airbnb has studied the competition and the competitive rates they charge for more extensive professional services provided to protect the guest, host, and booking agency's physical and financial safety and liability.
I'd really appreciate some straight talk from airbnb about it's plans to provide these very basic, necessary, and (collectively) very affordable services to this hosting community.
Is there a competition out there to Facebook today?
Not teally, specially after it bought instagram, WhatsApp, and the likes... practically speaking there is NONE
Same here. no REAL competition to Airbnb. tried the other platforms like booking.com — not even close
Host can try jumping ships, but will wind up on a makeshift raft
i think your post is at best naive, as it suggests a leveled playing field. But then again, I love dreamers and the concept that things can look different from over there
Again, as a participant in this and other threads about these concerns, it would really be great if you'd complete your profile @Oad, even as a courtesy.
All your profile shows is a bullseye icon and that you joined in 4 months ago. You've shared nothing about who you are, you have no verifications, no reviews and no listings on this platform.
I am in basic agreement with most of the criticisms directed to Air BnB over the lack of equity in respect to information sharing being given to hosts over guests. Hosts have to provide all sorts of information, photos, govenement id, phone numbers and even photos of their homes etc. While it appears that guests now can get away with mimimum amounts of documentation and identification.
It appals me that Air BnB management can make such important policy decisiosn without really canvasing the world wide opinions of their host coummity.
In my opinion Air BnB provides two fundamental services with the platform;
1. is a smooth, frictionless interaction with guests
2. is a security one related to the veractiy of the guest
I feel both these tenents have been undermined by the changes to guest identification policy.
@Susan598 Exactly. Airbnb has now stripped away pretty much any last protections a home owning, home-sharing host had. Some hosts are reporting they no longer can see reviews written by hosts about the guest. Hopefully this is just another 'glitch' (and there are so many of them these days...).
The whole story about no longer being able to see previous reviews (or verifications) too, for Non-IB hosts. Is a complete Hoax, as far as I'm concerned.
Of course it is possible to get an inquiry from someone, who has been a member of Airbnb for a longer period of time, without any host reviews.
Only the profile picture is hidden (if a guest actually has one), until a booking has been confirmed.
Everything else is still visible (at least for now :-D).
I don't even think it is a glitch. They're just getting inquiries from guests with no previous host reviews :-D
It just doesn't mean guests have travelled, using Airbnb.
When a previous host didn't leave a review, it will simply not show on the profile of a guest.
What I get from guest requests is only their first name. Joe.
No profile picture, no last name, and in most cases they don't even have a description of themselves. [because Airbnb does not request them to have one]
Now I have to accept in my private home a 'Joe' for X days and that's it... well I like to screen my customers since Im going to share some days in my home with them and I really think this is plain fair. I call it safety. But it is also to provide the best experience to someone you know will feel comfortable in my world.
Also, when i decline a request I am obliged to send a message to the inquiring guest, but when inquiring guests withdraw their request, they are not obliged to send me a message.
That makes me think that the platform is lowering their interest on us, personal hosts.
And really I am feeling that Airbnb does not care about my personal safety either.
Am I the only one concerned about this in this community?
Did anyone from the platform ever respond to this concern before that I could check it out?