Airbnb Answers: Guest profile photos

Airbnb Staff
Airbnb Staff

Airbnb Answers: Guest profile photos

Update: January, 2019


A few months ago, we told you about some changes Airbnb was making to the way guest profile photos are displayed. You can read the original post, below.


Now that those changes are being introduced gradually, we want to make sure you have all the information you need. Here’s a recap of what will be changing, along with some tips.



New photo process

Moving forward, rather than displaying a potential guest’s profile photo before the booking is accepted, you’ll receive a guest’s photo after you’ve accepted the booking request. If you have Instant Book turned on, you won’t notice a change to the booking process.


Airbnb does not require guests to have profile photos. Although most guests provide a photo, some have told us they don’t want to share a picture of themselves when booking, and we listened.


At the same time, many of you told us that you value guest profile photos, and we listened to you, too. That’s why we’ve introduced a new option for hosts to be able to customize their own booking requirements.


New host control

You now have the option to require that your guests provide a profile photo. Again, the photo will be visible to you only after you accept the booking request. If you’d like to require your guests to provide a profile photo, you’ll need to turn on the control option in your settings for each of your listings, either on mobile or on web. Specifically:


On mobile:

  1. Go to the listing you’d like to require profile photos for
  2. Tap Booking settings
  3. Tap Guest requirements
  4. Look for the Profile photo section and tap Edit
  5. Tap Require a profile photo
  6. Tap Save

On web:

  1. From your host dashboard, click Listings
  2. Click Booking settings
  3. Next to Guest requirements, click Edit
  4. Check the box next to Profile photo
  5. Click Save


If you take this step and a potential guest doesn’t already have a profile photo, they’ll be prompted to upload one before they can request to book your space. A guest’s profile photo will not be available to you until after you accept the booking request. If the guest doesn’t want to provide a photo, then they won’t be able to book your space. 


Additional support

If you choose to require that your guests have a profile photo and one of your potential guests uploads an image that doesn’t show their face—a photo of a sunset or their dog, for instance—then you can call Airbnb’s Community Support. They’ll work with you to address the issue, and if you feel uncomfortable hosting someone without a photo that shows their face, you can request to cancel the reservation penalty-free.


As a reminder, Airbnb’s nondiscrimination policy prohibits hosts from making booking decisions or canceling reservations based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. 


As an extra step, as always, you can require guests to provide a government ID to Airbnb in order to be able to book your space. You can read more about that process here.


Why these changes are important

We talked with lots of hosts and guests about profile photos, and we think these changes satisfy the core concerns and feedback we heard. We’ll be paying close attention to how these changes to profile photos affect our community, and will continue working to improve and simplify the process to ensure you feel comfortable hosting. We hope you’ll share your feedback with us so we can continue to build a community where everyone can belong. Thank you for hosting.




October, 2018


You've been asking a lot about guest profile photos, and Airbnb has been working on new policies to address your concerns. Here is an update from Airbnb:


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.


1,229 Replies 1,229
Level 2
England, United Kingdom

Not only can we hosts not see a photo of the proposed guest, I have recently received two requests that even when they have booked,  there is NO PHOTOGRAPH!!! I thought that was a stipulation made by airbnb? Yup, it's a totally upside down blah de blah world but there are  some really nice people around who I have also experienced as a host. Luck me

Level 2
London, United Kingdom

This bad occurrence does not surprise me at all. Airbnb won't let us see any photos of the clients, which I think they think it breaks their human rights or something quite ridiculous. What about our human rights? We are the one's who are being made vulnerable to anyone who stays and we are not allowed to see their faces until we have accepted them. It's an utterly sick idea in an upside-down world. When more of us complain, perhaps they will let us see photos. There are thousands of emails about this that the top brass at airbnb seem to ignore. GET COMPLAINING. 

Level 2

Due to extreme fraud with STR's, we now require them to send us a copy of the driver's license of the person booking and a photo of the vehicle in which they will be arriving, including the License plate. If it is a rental car, this must be emailed or texted to us immediately upon rental.  These web sites don't really vet the renters. They can and do claim that someone stole their credit card and used it to book our home. We have cameras outside the front door and in the common areas of the hallways and the videos stay until they have posted a review.  That way we have proof they were there,they can't dispute the charge.  We fought and won a mess, they trashed the place as well. The $500 deposit didn't cover the damages including cigarette burns to furniture (this is a non smoking home!)...but at least we were able to retain the deposit as well.... Be very careful!

Level 1
California, United States

This makes me so angry and not even want to host anymore.  This is honestly a safety risk.  I'm a single woman in my home and I need to see who I am letting into my home.  I've already had a single male guest show me his guns before and I had to leave to stay elsewhere.  Saying we are discriminating is so unfair, we are just being discerning and needing a photo to asses if someone is safe to let into our home.  You can tell a lot about a person from their photo, regardless of race, age, or gender.  

Level 2
England, United Kingdom

Good point which has been the feeling of  a lot of hosts. Also, a very relevant point which was recently made was comparing the situation with a company who surely would not employ any personnel without getting an idea of what the applicant looked like, how well presented etc. Take another situation where the police put a wanted notice up without showing a photo of WHOM was wanted and on and on ...

Level 2
Scotland, United Kingdom

Ok I get that Airandb are trying to address a discrimination issue. Why then are the Hosts picture as available to potential guests before they book? Guests might not like the look of us. Should we hide our picture?

This is just stupid PC behaviour by Airband IMO. 
we are considering leaving the platform now

Level 2
New York, NY

literally no one cares what you look like, we're more concerned with the place, location and price

Level 10
Johannesburg, South Africa

@Scott474 Our last problematic guest we had a run in with during the 'good old days' changed his clear profile photo from then to a recent depicting 2 lollipops and denied we ever had previous dealings.
Whatever happened to the 7 step verification on the platform requiring a clear profile photo and a selfie, apparently we missed out quite a bit during Lockdown?


Level 2
England, United Kingdom

@Peta7      aha interesting! There will always be the joker/chancer/game-player. I suppose that is perhaps us being involved in the 'kitchen'.  "If you can't stand the heat ....".

      My partner rents out a property where most tenants have been great but .... when they play their 'games'  then  nightmare stuff!

     Wish you well and take care

Level 10
Johannesburg, South Africa

We totally agree with the overwhelming sentiment voiced and believe the obscured profile photo of a guest to be....quite laughable.

As stated in a previous post: When a request is received from a Mohammed Naidoo (name used as an example only and bears no reference to an actual person) we will not need a photo to  know this is most probably an Indian gentleman or likewise from a Gretta Himler (name used as an example only and bears no reference to an actual person) we will all know that this request is most likely from a German lady so how the obscured photo help against discrimination remains a bit of a mystery? This becomes even more relevant when hosting in South Africa.

We previously suggested the platform administrators should perhaps consider obscuring the guest's name as well, so hosts will receive a 'lucky packet guest' without any discrimination or contentment with a booking coming to play.....Lets hope the platform administrators do not read this post!

Level 2
England, United Kingdom

Agree Peta, pc going bonkers. If we are dealing with the public then we of course 'welcome' people. If anyone discriminates then don't deal with the public. If you run a retail shop but  don't like serving anyone over 40 years old, then hey, what are you doing in that place?

   Obscuring a guest's name is a very good point; a name can reveal as much-or less about a person as would a photo. Maybe countries should not have passport control because it could discriminate against the holder? I've had many guests whose profile photo is somewhat obscure, often nondescript.

   Otherwise, I've been going for about 2 years,  having hosted national and international guests in my house who have all, thankfully, been fantastic.

Level 3
Queenstown, NZ

Very unfair one sided system with the photos , whats the point in showing the photo after the booking ? Why is the host photo available if you are worried about prejudice ? 
Let people have their prejudices after all its their home and you will find that its NOT so much prejudice but a safety and basic  human thing to know who you are talking to trying to work out who will be suitable to stay in your home and share your space.
Without the hosts providing their home you wouldn't have a business so stop taking away their rights .
I would like to see a survey from the hosts about the photos but of course you won't do that as bottom line and money turn over outweighs host safety  

Level 2
London, United Kingdom

I have written saying the same but not as well put as yours Phillip. It's ridiculous that hosts can't see photos of their guests before they accept them. You may as well ask the police not to take photos of suspects as it invades their human rights, even though they may have killed someone!

Level 2
England, United Kingdom

yes yes yes Philip to all of your points. This issue has been running around the community for a very long time now and yes .... it's the 'bottom line' .... always

Level 2

This is a nonsense. Skim-read 30-40 pp. here. I have hosted and Superhosted throughout the UK in different locations.  It seems the general consensus is that the 'new' 'requirements are unreasonable and improperly in place. The more developed they became as a business, the more complex the process became (Instant Book, cancellation policies even). It's quite patent they set this up for fear of discrimination but transparency is surely key. If you let a room in your home to someone you should be entitled to see who that person is before contracting with them. As much as 'guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days' may not sound so nice here, with some people this may hold true. Hosts must have the inalienable right to decline or refuse and to control because it is they who allow guests in, and they (in my case anyway) perform perfunctory roles such as cleaning up their hairs, pubic or otherwise. There are also the security aspects and even as an intrepid male, I've had a few weirdos. Guests receive very favourable rates, and some will expect homestays rather than just a 'bnb', flout your very basic rules (whilst I being reasonable will grade them higher on cleanliness level just to be nice) and from my experience in the UK, whilst I love meeting people, in winter sometimes the effort is not worth the profit. This is all very disappointing because it perhaps counters the spirit or intention of the sharing principle historically.  The hosts are unfairly prejudiced against.

Level 2
Bristol, United Kingdom

We have written to Abnb telling them that we will not accept any new bookings until they  reinstate policy of Hosts seeing guest profile photo before booking!!   I have blocked out the calendar, and will only accept repeat guests!!

Level 10
Warwick, Australia

We had an interesting guest who booked. His photo was the back of a head died yellow and shaved like a pineapple with green leaves on top. When we asked him to send a photo of himself he sent one of his whole family, nice as they were staying too but not what we had asked.

An hour after check out time I messaged him to ask where he was. "Shopping" he replied but returned promptly when I mentioned our next guests were due in 3 hours so I was going to enter the flat to clean and put his stuff in garbage bags. Then he said in his report he had been kind to us by stripping the beds, washing up, emptying the bins and recycling! These are required in our house rules. 

Did his children see a kangaroo or quokka on their first trip to Australia? No. Is was interesting writing his report.

Level 2
Greenville, NC

I enabled the “require guests to have a profile photo” immediately upon setting up my listings and so far I’ve approved 4 guests who were revealed to have no profile picture at all! If I’m supposed to be trusting AirBnB to confirm the pictures before I approve then I would really appreciate the filter actually working!!

Level 2
England, United Kingdom

What an excellent point Peta. My very first guest was from African origin. So what! I've hosted people from many countries. Guess what ...airbnb will probably now take on board your final para! No pack drill... etc etc

Level 10
Johannesburg, South Africa

It is believed that the all popular and unique Uber with Driver / Cab visuals omitted will be viewed as just another metered Taxi service, and now we have our platform of choice offering us "lucky packet" guests with obscured profiles just like the multitude of booking platforms out there.
The irony is that we are led to believe that this entire fiasco was instituted in the name of discrimination, and so we receive requests from a Bradley, Mohamed, Nqabomzi and Fatima......
Perhaps the platform administrators should consider obscuring the guests name as well as it is blatantly clear to us which gender and race group these actual requests came from or alternatively a substitute logical reason for Discrimination / Racism is much needed?

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