Guest profile photos: Airbnb response to community feedback
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 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 toward 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:
- You can message with them to get more information about the purpose of their trip
- You can use your House Rules to set expectations with potential guests, too. (Guests have to review and agree to your House Rules before they can request to book your space.)
- You can review past guest reviews from other hosts to make a more informed decision about accepting booking requests
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:
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.
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.
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 canceling.)
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 nondiscrimination 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
Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.
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