Airbnb has had a rough few weeks. First, there was a tragic death in one of the properties it lists in California. Then an online article from Vice revealed the extent of the scamming that exists in the rental world. Airbnb is taking these issues seriously and is installing new processes and procedures that should prevent these issues in the future.
To be clear, my family and I love rental apartments and have enjoyed staying in them across the country and in Europe and Japan. Over 2 million people will spend the night at an Airbnb tonight and the vast majority of them will have an experience somewhere between acceptable and excellent. But in some cases, handfuls or dozens, may not. And Airbnb is currently unequipped to help them satisfactorily.
Home rental services such as Airbnb and VRBO are fundamentally based upon Trust. I trust you to share the true facts about “your” apartment/home and you trust me not to trash it. But, trust has proven insufficient — single renters find an apartment in their hometown and turn it temporarily into a party house — trust bond broken. Or, scammers put up attractive listings and either the details or photos are intentionally inaccurate or, at the last minute, the owners falsely claim the unit is unavailable and then offer “similar quality” last minute housing which is anything but a “like” offering.
Airbnb is rolling out four new processes to combat these issues:
- All hosts and listings will be 100% verified by the end of next year. This will be accomplished through a combination of AirBnB and the community. Is the listing accurate, do the photos match what is there, are the hosts who they say they are…
- Guest Guarantee: if not satisfied with a property, AirBnB will attempt to find an equivalent property immediately.
- Neighbor hotline will be available 24/7 as a rapid response to complaints staffed by people trained by Police Chiefs.
- Extra review of “high risk reservations” e.g. a person who books a 10 person rental for the same night in the same locale in which they live will be flagged.
All of these measures are smart and will help future renters. But IMHO they are being implemented too late and with not enough behind them. 100% verification by END of NEXT year? Too late. Guest Guarantee? What if Airbnb can’t find us a place that is similar tonight? When will the Neighbor hotline be online? None of the issues that are leading to the new processes are new or a surprise.
Will I continue renting from Airbnb? Absolutely. I love Airbnb and what it can deliver for me and my family. Airbnb is implementing sound, smart new verification and “exception” processes. They will most definitely improve the Airbnb experience helping establish more trust between renters, Airbnb and hosts. IMHO, the changes are not coming quickly enough and should have been implemented long ago.