Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says the company will verify every
listing on the platform – seven million – by the end of 2020 as part of what he
calls “the most significant steps” in the company’s history to design trust in
The verification is one of four new solutions Chesky
announced today in remarks at The New York Times DealBook Conference. In an
email sharing the news with Airbnb employees, Chesky says Airbnb was built on
the belief that “people are fundamentally good, and that we could design a
system for strangers to trust one another” but “recently, events by bad actors
on our platform took advantage of that trust, including at a home in Orinda,
California. We intend to do everything possible to learn from these incidents
when they occur.”
Five people died when shots were fired during a Halloween party
at a home rented on Airbnb in the suburb of San Francisco, which led Airbnb to ban "party houses." And in a separate incidence
last week, a reporter for Vice
wrote about con artists using Airbnb to take advantage of consumers.
The verification process will involve a review of every
host and every home, including accuracy of photos, addresses and listing
details and adherence to quality standards, done through a combination of technology and and guest input.
In remarks at the conference, Chesky says the strategy will include revising the review process so guests are asked to answer specific questions about whether the listing was accurate.
Those that are verified will be
labeled as such, but it's unclear if listings that cannot be verified will be
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In addition to the verification, Airbnb is creating a guarantee
to protect renters if upon check-in a listing is found to be inaccurate. Beginning next month, the
company will rebook the guest in a new listing of equal or greater value or
refund 100% of their money.
Airbnb is also creating a “Neighbor Hotline” that will be
staffed 24/7 by operators trained to respond to concerns regarding any Airbnb
property around the world. The company is also expanding manual screening of reservations
that carry a high risk score, based on attributes such as duration of stay and
size of listing.
To assist with these new trust initiatives, Airbnb has retained
the services of two former security experts - former Philadelphia and
Washington police chief Charles Ramsey and Ronald Davis,
a former police chief and former director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
“More than eleven years after
Joe, Nate and I started Airbnb, I have been asked what has surprised me most
about the world. My answer is two things: that people are, in fact,
fundamentally good, and that we are 99% the same,” Chesky says in the email.
“We still believe this, and with
these changes, we hope to continue to demonstrate this to the world."