Airbnb to Hide Guest´s Profile Pictures before Booking (Ep257)

Airbnb to Hide Guest´s Profile Pictures before Booking (Ep257)

Airbnb to Hide Guest Profile Picture before Booking

Airbnb recently decided to make changes regarding the visibility of the profile pictures of their users. In the future, hosts won’t be able to see the photos until a booking has been accepted.

Here’s a quote from the press release:

“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.”

The reason Airbnb made this change is because they don’t want hosts to reject a booking request based on the physical appearance of the guest. In particular, they don’t want hosts to discriminate based on race.

I’m sure racial discrimination happens on Airbnb. In fact, I interviewed Rohan Gilkes, the founder of Innclusive, in this podcast episode. Rohan founded Innclusive after experiencing racial discrimination on Airbnb.

There are two reasons why I think hiding the profile pictures is not the right move.

First of all, the profile picture is one of a number of factors that hosts can use to decide whether the guest is a good fit or not. I always look at the profile pictures.

What I look for is: did the guest put a lot of effort into the pictures? This is important because I believe that people who are out to abuse Airbnb, trash a house or throw a party, typically don’t put a clear picture of themselves, for obvious reasons.

These people already know they will get in trouble for what they are about to do, so they prefer to provide as a little information about themselves as possible.

They probably also don’t plan on using their Airbnb account in the future. They’ll create an account, use it to book a place, do whatever evil they plan to do, and accept that they won’t be able to use the account in the future.

In short, I believe that hosts should have more information about guests, not less. This way they can make better decisions as to which guests are a good fit and avoid bad experiences.

It is your home and you should have the right to decide who gets to stay there. The fact that there are racists out there shouldn't change that.

The other reason I don’t agree with this measure is this. If I request to stay with a host, I want them to look at my picture before accepting me. Here’s why. If the host would decline my request based on racial considerations, I wouldn´t want to stay with that person!

Why would I want to stay with a racist? Or even if it´s for other considerations, maybe the host doesn’t like my face. Or whatever the reason may be. I don’t want to put money in the pocket of someone who doesn’t want me in their house.

I rather pay someone who’s happy to host me. I wouldn’t feel comfortable staying with someone who would have declined my booking based on the way I look. I want nothing to do with that person.

I understand it is frustrating for people who often experience racial discrimination. But the reality is, there are people who make decisions based on racial considerations. And that reality is not going to change by not allowing hosts to see a picture of the guest.

Instead, what I would suggest is that Airbnb identifies racist hosts and removes them from the platform. If a guest has the suspicion that a host discriminates on racial grounds, they should be able to report that person. Airbnb can then investigate the booking history to see if this is the case or not and base their decision on that.

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  1. jean says:

    If it’s all about discrimination, then why doesn’t airbnb require host to remove their profile pic and bio. cough because it’s about their profit at the peril and safety of the host. there are no criminal background checks which makes host very expensive insurance bill and void if there is any incident. host must do their own background checks which makes a profile pic imperative. i declines one host because a very simple google search matching his face revealed he was convicted of setting fire to his rental property and multiple fraud counts. it’s an easy decision for me to pull my business from airbnb

  2. Matt says:

    It’s like not allowing people to make their choices and allowing a guest to sneak into your home in a less transparent way will make people less discriminant and more tolerant? Depriving hosts from their freedom of choice and baby sit them by telling them they need to accept anyone in their homes without filtering won’t really make their sharing experience better or make them less discriminant, if that’s the case.

    The whole concept of forcing people to be what they’re not with the excuse of an idealistic motive is pretty abhorrent, if you ask me. And it’s a discrimination on hosts as well, deep down. The world isn’t a perfect place and it isn’t by forcing people to have a less transparent communication letting decide Airbnb for you that is going to be a better place, all of a sudden.

    Plus there was already a featured called Instant Booking that if you want it could be activated on your profile. If people wanted that they could’ve used it. If they’re not using it there must be a reason. So, where is the discrimination here? Removing people freedom and freedom of choice is not called discrimination in SF, is it?

  3. Priyanka Jain says:

    I had incident with airbnb. Guest requested to book and accepted it . But even after accepting the request and asking multiple times guest didn’t upload his correct picture .
    I reach to airbnb , it brushed the hand saying its between guest and host.

    How can it be?
    To resolve racial discrimination in guest airbnb hidden the guest pic. Ut after accepting ,why it is not helping host. Why I am bound to do
    1) let somebody in my house who dont know how look like I.e. can be even criiminal itself, as guest are not bound to upload correct picture and neither airbnb support that
    2) or pay the penalty 50$ to Airbnb for canceling the request when my whole booking benefit could have been just 20$ itself
    3) either stop using airbnb as host as let alone to save my self from facing possinle security issue or monetary issue mention in 1 and 2 point itself
    I wanted to add picture here.

  4. Perry says:

    Agree with your points here and also baffled as to how Airbnb saw this as a good move!?

  5. Jane Doe says:

    That’s exactly why I had to delete my account. Sometimes, like if you are in a condo, And the neighbors don’t like the looks of the guest you booked, they can cause trouble between you and the HOA. So I had to say goodbye to Airbnb for not posting pictures before booking

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