I have been an Airbnb host for many years, but am very concerned to find just now that profile pictures of potential guests are now not being displayed until a booking is confirmed. For me and I am sure many other hosts who welcome guests into our homes it is vitally important to be able to see what a guest is like and make a judgement about their suitability for accommodation within ones home where there may also be children. I am VERY concerned about this decision that seems to encourage 'incognito' travelling, and I cannot continue to offer accommodation unless hosts are able to see a good clear and recognisable profile picture of potential guests BEFORE we accept a new booking.
Withdrawing profile pictures makes selecting our guests a lottery, and takes away from us the ability to exercise choice. This is not what I regard as responsible hosting. I have always valued the vetting process provided by Airbnb but have many times expressed my concern that so many guests seem to seek accommodation with avatar profile images. In my opinion this is an insult to the hospitality offered by hosts. This new decision to hide all profile pictures of guests until after acceptance is not acceptable, because it encourages this incognito invasion of a hosts private home.
@John, I don't believe this is the case. Guests aren't required to have a profile picture (which I disagree with - I think everyone should have to have a clear profile photo of themselves to be able to use the platform) but most people I am communicating with do have a profile photo, even before the booking is confirmed. Maybe it's just coincidence that your recent guests have not had profile photos then uploaded one after booking?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 guest chooses to provide a profile photo, that profile photo won’t be displayed to the host as part of the booking process until after the booking is confirmed. Because some hosts value profile photos and want to be able to know who they can expect at their front door, we will give hosts the option to ask that guests provide a profile photo prior to booking, which will only be presented to the host after the host accepts the booking request. This new option comes with important safeguards that are designed to ensure our community is fair and open to everyone: Hosts must turn on this feature for each of their listings proactively, before they receive a reservation request. If a host asks for a profile photo, we’ll prompt guests to upload one to their Airbnb profile before they can request to book that host’s particular listing; however, the photo will not be presented to the host until after the booking is confirmed. 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.
You speak above as if you are part of some Airbnb committee of management. Is there such a thing?
You also ask for feedback. Here is mine.....
I will not allow any guests into my home if they are not prepared to post a clear picture of themselves, and I reserve the right to refuse guests who do not appear like their profile picture when they arrive.
I invite guests into my family home and treat them the same way as I would if my own relatives came to visit. It feels like an insult to the hospitality offered by a host if the guest refuses to reveal themselves.
Likewise, in my vew people should not be booking accommodation on behalf of another person without making that very clear to the host beforehand, and giving them a chance to refuse accommodation.
If there is a desire on the part of some guests to arrive incognito then maybe this should be an option offered to hosts - i.e. hosts can refuse all requests from guests without profile pictures, or they can request profile pctures before accepting a booking. There should not be a blanket policy to prevent hosts from seeing their prospective guests before any booking.
I feel this new policy creates a very negative scenario for Airbnb. Having enjoyed being an Airbnb host for many years I am now investigating alternatives.
John, I 100% agree with you. Not only is it creating a negative vibe, it also creates potential discriminatory fake cases, because suddenly anyone can claim they have been discriminated and in fact just been declined accommodation for x other neutral reasons.
A community without a face is not a community!
I am too considering alternatives to Airbnb.
I couldn't agree more and I feel exactly the same! As a host in a private property we absolutly have the right to choose who to stay with us. It has NOTHING to do with gender, race, age, person with diablility etc. It's just we do need to have a general feel about who the person is by seeing their face and communicating with them before we allow them to step in our house. It's about safty and even our comfort level of hosting that person.
I understand that Airbnb doing this because they don't want hosts to decide if they gonna accpet this guest or not based on their look. But what they didn't realize is, at the end of the day, we have to choose who we are comfortable staying with ( I am talking about hosts who actually stay in their Airbnb property, for those who do not, that will be a different story). If we keep having guests who we are not comfortable hosting ( even if the guests are not bad people), it will discourage us to keep hosting. We will eventually quit. End of the story!
Airbnb think they made a smart decision? They need to think again.
john you are right to be concerned i just sent this to Airbnb
Hi there i'm concerned that i can no longer see potential guests profiles before i accept a booking and I need this to be changed on my settings, or an option to "opt out" at least? Its not discriminatory based on race as some guests may be suggesting (from what ive read), ive hosted folk from all over the world, but a lot of single women will feel unsafe especially if there are 3 guys say, wanting to book, they could look creepy or dangerous too? so thats why we need to see peoples faces, it fosters trust and improves safety, im not concerned about what they may think or if they are offended if i dont accept, thats tough, if i get a strange feeling from a photo then its usually for good reason!! Please refer this concern to your senior managers at Air bnb as its a valid, genuine concern that needs addressing, dont forget, psychopaths and idiots can also take advantage of this new ruling knowing they can get a booking accepted when previously they may have been rejected, so you may end up with more complaints because of this. I dont see why we should be penalised or judged based on our individual thoughts or concerns, this is very unfair business practice, not all guests are angels either and we dont have to answer to Airbnb, its OUR home, you just provide a portal for bookings at the end of the day. Thank you.
I’m with you John, personally I ideally would want to see the face of whoever has booked with me, and particularly as I would like to make sure that the person who turns up is the person who booked. I use an app called GuestHug to give me another layer of security as my guests have to upload another photo onto here to access my check-in information - seems to work quite well for me.
But hosts photos are posted up what about discrimination from guests? This is a real backward step, fine if there are no profile pictures at all but seems slanted to guests only.
Really? Who came up with this idea. I am an older woman alone. I want to see who is booking. Who is coming to my house. It's my home, and it's my life. This is not a hotel, I do not have a security staff. Especially since I have seen on occasions that the only identity verifications for some people has been an email address. Are you sure that you want people to go somewhere that they won't be comfortable? No picture, no verification, no previous recommendations, no booking. Airbnb should stop minding everyones business.
Hi Kath! Thanks for responding to my message. (One of my daughters lives near Perth WA).
I have been assured many times by Airbnb that all members photos are checked for clear visibility and also checked against other web pictures to ensure they are genuine. But clearly this is not happening.
What concerns me more is the recent decision by Airbnb to keep the identity of all potential guests secret until a booking is made. I often have children at home and we decide if we like the look of people before I confirm any booking. Although very few are rejected it means we have control over who we invite and welcome into our home. So far I have not had any problems with an Airbnb guest - but I have had problems with Couchsurfers. However I read with great concern stories posted elsewhere on this site from other hosts who have had considerable difficulties, and a friend of mine who is also an Airbnb host had a very difficult situation with a guest - and Airbnb did deal with it very effectively and quickly. But I am not prepared to subject my home and family to that risk.
In this age of internet fraud and fake identities it is absolutely crucial that hosts can decide who they let int their homes.
Since this policy has changed-I’ve had significant damage to my home ($1500) and several other issues since I have to blindly accept a stranger into my home. It’s an incredibly safety issue to open our home blindly to guests. We are private homes, not a hotel!
Kath, no, it is already the case. I have a long list in my archive of guests with profile picture and now receiving requests from face-less guests, just a big grey anonymous circle with a the first letter of their name. Is this how Airbnb wants us to regard our guests? And still call it a community?!
A community without a face is not a community! Then we might as well move our listing to Booking.com.