Following the death of five people at a Halloween party hosted at a California Airbnb rental, and a scathing Vice report outlining Airbnb’s failure to prevent nation-wide scams, the company says it will begin verifying all seven million of its listings.
Airbnb properties will soon be verified for accuracy of photos, addresses, listing details, cleanliness, safety and basic home amenities, according to a company-wide email sent by Airbnb co-founder and chief executive officer Brian Chesky on Wednesday. All rentals that meet the company’s new standards will be “clearly labeled” by December 15, 2020, he notes. Beginning next month, Airbnb will rebook or refund guests who check into rentals that do not meet the new accuracy standards.
The long-awaited updates to Airbnb’s security measures come months before the company plans to complete an initial public offering or direct listing and just days after Chesky announced the business would ban “party houses,” and work harder to combat unauthorized parties and abusive host and guest conduct.
“We believe that trust on the internet begins with verifying the accuracy of the information on internet platforms, and we believe that this is an important step for our industry,” Chesky said in the staff email.
Airbnb also will launch a 24/7 Neighbor Hotline, which will allow guests to reach a real Airbnb employee from any location at any time. The company will fully roll-out the service next year. Finally, Airbnb will expand its screening of potentially high-risk reservations globally next year.
The new efforts are led by Margaret Richardson, Airbnb’s vice president of trust, who Chesky tasked with rapidly formulating a response to the Halloween party massacre. The company has also tapped Charles Ramsey, former chief of the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. police departments, and Ronald Davis, the former chief of the East Palo Alto police department, to advise the projects.
“More than eleven years after Joe, Nate, and I started Airbnb, I have been asked what has surprised me most about the world,” Chesky writes. “My answer is two things: that people are, in fact, fundamentally good, and that we are 99% the same. We still believe this, and with these changes, we hope to continue to demonstrate this to the world.”