Guest standards, new safety features, and irrelevant reviews are just some of the hot topics we covered at Host Q&A in Austin, Texas, in November. Though the questions were asked by local hosts in Austin, they reflect questions we’ve heard from hosts around the world. Check out the conversation with Airbnb executives about the issues that matter most to you.
To turn on translated subtitles, click the “CC” (Closed Captioning) button underneath the video screen when viewing.
Question 1: What is Airbnb doing to protect hosts from bad guests?
We understand how important it is for you to feel a real sense of safety when hosting in your space. You want Airbnb to help prevent things from going wrong and to be there in the rare but unfortunate moments when they do.
Next year, we’ll be ramping up our commitment to guest standards on Airbnb. We recently announced our new Guest Standards Policy, which will introduce a system for tracking and removing bad guests from the platform over time. When a guest fails to meet one of the standards outlined in the policy, they'll receive a warning. If the behavior continues, it could lead to suspension or removal from the platform.
These guest standards build upon existing policies we already have in place to address the more serious trust and safety issues that result in immediate removal from the platform. We’re enhancing our system to better monitor guests who engage in less serious misconduct, so that we can educate these guests and take appropriate action if they don’t correct their behavior.
Question 2: What is Airbnb doing to support hosts when things go wrong?
We’re committed to ensuring you have the tools and support you need in those moments. We recently began testing our Urgent Support Line in the U.S. and plan to expand to more countries next year. For critical matters related to your security or safety, Airbnb app users in the U.S. with access to the pilot can tap the “Call Airbnb's Urgent Support Line" button in the Safety Center (available via the Profile tab) to quickly connect to a specialist for help. Keep in mind that the Urgent Support Line button is designed to be available only for active reservations, from the day before check-in to the day after checkout. We’re also rolling out a new local emergency button, which provides a direct line to local emergency services. For non-urgent issues, we’ve introduced a live chat feature to English and Mandarin speakers this year, with plans to roll it out in seven more languages next year. It’s currently the fastest way to get help for things like updating your calendar or adjusting your pricing.
Of course, these new features are only as effective as the teams that support them, which is why we’ve prioritized growing and restructuring the customer support team. Just this year, we expanded our global staff by thousands of agents, and we reorganized and refocused the team to make it more efficient. We’ve set it up so that more experienced agents handle more complex issues—this means you won’t have to go through multiple agents before you get connected to them.
We’ve also been training our claims specialists to show more empathy and understanding, and we’ve implemented a process that speeds up resolution and payout for hosts who are more tenured on the platform. Finally, we’re working on improving our workflows to ensure that the same issues are handled the same way every time.
Question 3: What is Airbnb doing to improve the review system?
We know how much you rely on reviews to grow your business, and we know that a review may sometimes be misleading or contain content unrelated to the stay. We hear you. And we want you to know that we’re working hard to make them better—it’s a journey, and your feedback is essential to getting there.
Earlier this year, we built a new tool that automatically detects an inconsistent review, then interrupts the flow to flag that inconsistency. Similarly, if a guest leaves a low rating for something like location or value—two categories that can be interpreted in different ways—they’ll get interrupted with a clarifying question. These interruptions force guests to think a little more about the rating they’re giving, and they also give guests a chance to go back and correct it. And we’re already seeing more consistency between the category scores and overall scores as a result.
Most importantly, we also recently updated our Review Policy. We focused these changes around some of the issues you find most frustrating: irrelevant reviews and biased reviews. Under the updated policy—effective December 11, 2019—we’ve empowered our agents to remove these types of reviews, and guests and hosts who repeatedly violate the policy may face consequences including account suspension and removal.
Question 4: Is Airbnb losing focus on host-to-guest interactions?
That connectedness—the special magic that happens between hosts and guests—is what hosts like you uniquely bring to the platform. It’s also what makes people choose Airbnb. And it’s core to our mission to allow anyone to belong anywhere—belonging can’t happen without human connection.
Listings like yours drive our business. We’re committed—and will forever be committed—to our host community. This fall, we celebrated that community with our first major ad campaign in two years. We wanted to make a statement to the world about who we are and what’s important to us, so we chose to showcase what makes our community so amazing: hosts like you.
I Disagree with you Josie & Carlo - I am NOT racist - I rent out to various individuals - in fact for New Years on the main floor I have a group of 11 from India and on the upper apartment 2 couples from Japan. And they each supplied photos and they each are being treated like family.
I definitely agree that photos can be a tool for racist refusals, but there are ways to track and remove hosts whose behavior indicates that trend.
I have had great experiences with people from all walks of life, countries, religions, skin color, etc. I have had several issues though, one was a guest from Belarus who commented in writing that personal pictures in MY HOME were too personal, the second was a guest who just was nuts with both other guests and me and then called me a Nazi and the third was a guest I declined due to MY health reasons and was accused of bias due to their surname. If this person had actually looked at my many reviews they would have seen the variety of people who had stayed with me and known that I also occasionally suffer from religious bias. I was offended by each in its' own way but made the choice to move past them quickly. It is important that one both sides of the equation we encourage being both the welcoming host and appropriate guest.
JOSIE-AND-CARLO...i AM A WHITE HOST IN A PRIMARILY BLACK NEIGHBORHOOD, BORN AND RAISED IN ALABAMA, BUT BECAME A MILITARY WIFE AND NEVER HAVE BEEN PREDJUDICED AGAINST ANYONE OF ANY COLOR. I TREAT EVERY HUMAN BEING THAT COMES TO MY HOME LIKE FAMILY IF THEY ACT ACCORDINGLY. So you are wrong there. Photos on inquiry give some idea of who is coming to visit, and a host can use their instincts to make a judgement call. I accepted a black couple whose photo showed them dressed for a costume party with hats, funny glasses, glitter...they were the sweetest two people, christian youth teachers at their church, but their photo made them look like party animals. I just had a good feeling about them from the photo. So yes, we need the photo, but no not to screen racially. I have now had people from several continents, even the one where my son died in combat...without a problem.
How would seeing the photo of a guest before their reservation is confirmed, have any effect other that racist/prejudice exclusion? How the person looks is 100% irrelevant. What matters are reviews and communication. If you do not wish to host guests without reviews, that I can understand, but choosing whether or not to host someone with or without reviews, based on how they look, is ridiculous. As another host has mentioned, I do require all of my guests to have a clear photo of their face (after the booking is confirmed), so that I know who to expect and that the correct person shows up, but it has nothing to do with the acceptance of the review. The same goes for communication if you will be sharing the residence; I would not feel comfortable hosting someone(s) who simply do not respond to any of my messages, as it has only led to stress in the past (especially for longer stays). This whole "my home, my rules" idea is great when you decide which of your friends and family stay with you, but that is not what airbnb is about. It's not about exclusion, racism, prejudice, etc. It allows you to turn your residence/property into an "bed and breakfast" or simply a rental property. A business which services the public, to include all those looking for a place to stay, where the only exclusotory factor should be those which pose a direct threat to comfort and safety. Last I checked, a person's skin color or general appearance poses no such threat.
As someone who has experience as a guest and a host (renting entire properties, as well as rooms in my own home), I can personally vouch for how the new system helps to reduce racial exclusion. I have rented apartments all over the world thorough airbnb (as a guest and host) and have hundreds of positive reviews (and not a single negative one), yet in certain areas I was denied and told that the apartment was "already booked", "unavailable", "having repairs done", etc. There were even times when I used instant book, the hosts saw my picture (a darker skin male) and canceled for the same reasons as mentioned above. I then had my girlfriend or a travel mate at the time (a white female or a white or Asian male) message the host for the same days and ask if the apartment was available; 100% of the time the answer was "yes", followed by a pre-approval and positive communication asking whether or not they had any questions or needed advice about the area. It's also worth mentioning the fact that 9 times out of 10, I book entire apartments (unless there are simply no other options available in remote locations), so such exclusion is even more absurd.
As mentioned before, all of my reviews are positive, I have years of experience using the platform, I have every verification completed, and even a long bio which tells a little about myself. Not that it should matter, but I am also a meteorologist, commercial pilot, paramedic, first-aid/CPR instructor, teacher, and I have multiple Bachelor's degrees, as well as a Masters. I also have reviews from Surely that should matter more than how I look?
Since the changes airbnb implemented, the number of prejudice rejections I have received has essentially dropped to zero. Verification should be mandatory (no possibility to book without a government ID on file), and Airbnb should ensure that all guests have a clear photo (for identification purposes, not for decision making), but hiding photos until after booking was definitly the right call.
Apparently, dealing with an organization run by a bunch of Liberal educated nerds, they have decided what is best for you. They have taken the decision away from you. We had a hooker bring multiple guys into her room while we were sleeping. Even though I provided video Air BnB decided that they had done nothing wrong.
Yes, I agree . All this mumbo jumbo about our new teams is rubbish. I had a bad experience with a guest a month ago and it turned out horrible. I had to deal with incompetent Airbnb reps who could barley speak English and had no idea how to handle the situation. I was lied to by two reps and ultimately had to contact my attorney to help resolve the matter. Airbnb is still going to us and does not support hosts. This is just a knee jerk repossessed to the shooting and party house incidents . Stay strong. Document everything. Photograph everything, and make sure your house rules are very specific to unwanted behavior of any kind.
I’m glad they’re trying to improve their product and ignore the ignorant comments like this. They can cut down on trouble makers and react to problems with a better system. Nobody expects it to be bullet proof.
This is only partially true. They are actually working to find ways to limit these possibilities as much as possible. Check out this article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/airbnbs-new-software-can-tell-if-a-guest-might-trash-your-house-f.... They are developing a software that tracks online "reputation" of guests and gives them a sort of risk score. Now at what point they will be prevented from booking that remains to see. However, the fact that hosts can read reviews about a guest from other hosts is already more than other actors in the industry make available.
What can be done For guests that are not considerate and you are left with massive electric bills after they leave?
if guest deliberately leave air conditioner running the entire stay even if they aren’t even there during the day 6-7 hours?
I have a massive bill in only 16 day period ..so with the Airbnb fee, 37% tax to pay the entire excersize was stressful in preparation & now financially unrewarding !?
I check on the rooms and make sure fans or light or heat or AC is not on too much when they are not there, I communicate with them as well to make sure. I ask their schedule when they are in or leaving