Airbnb started in 2008 when two of our co-founders could not afford to make their rent and decided to blow up a few air mattresses on their living room floor and host visitors in San Francisco for a design conference. In the time since, Airbnb has become a global travel platform with more than 7 million listings across 191 countries and 100,000 cities, and with more than 500 million guest arrivals. In November 2016, we launched Airbnb Experiences, unique activities designed and hosted by local experts. Today, there are more than 40,000 Experiences in over 1,000 cities around the world.
While home sharing and local, authentic experiences are not new ideas, connecting with hosts, their homes, and their experiences through an internet platform is a new idea. As our co-founder, CEO and Head of Community, Brian Chesky, recently shared, “Our real innovation is not allowing people to book a home; it’s designing a framework to allow millions of people to trust one another.”
At our core, Airbnb is a business fueled by trust. We have an ongoing obligation to build trust and invest in innovations that will support trust when it comes to our policies, tools and procedures to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect hosts, guests, and the communities in which we operate. Earlier this month, we initiated a 10-day sprint to review and accelerate the development and implementation of new trust initiatives. Today, we want to highlight some of the investments and initiatives we are undertaking to build trust in our community.
Last week, as part of this 10-day sprint, we announced the most significant steps in designing trust on our platform since our original design in 2008. This work includes:
- 100% Verified Homes – A newly established team is building the technological and human review protocols to review all Airbnb listings and hosts to verify for accuracy and quality standards. Those that meet our high expectations will be clearly labeled.
- Airbnb Neighbor Hotline – We are more than doubling the size of the team responding to incidents and launching a new 24/7 Neighbor Hotline.
- High Risk Human Review – We are tripling our technological and operational investment in screening of high-risk reservations to cover the United States, Canada, and Mexico by the end of 2019 and all reservations globally by the end of 2020. This effort will be informed by our anti-discrimination and law enforcement partnerships to make them as fair and effective as possible.
- Guest Guarantee – Beginning on December 15, 2019, if upon checking into a listing that does not meet our accuracy standards, Airbnb will rebook the guest a new listing of equal or greater value, or they will get 100% of their money back. Most hosts do a great job, but guests need to feel like Airbnb has their back, and we believe this commitment is a necessary step in giving guests peace of mind.
- Party House Ban – We have finalized our policies and are implementing our enforcement protocols before December 15 to combat unauthorized parties and remove hosts and guests engaged in abusive conduct.
As part of this 10-day sprint, our work extended beyond the homes available on Airbnb. We’re also making significant investments to build trust in Airbnb Experiences, including:
- 100% Verified Experiences – Every Airbnb Experience is already reviewed for quality, and Experiences involving certain technically-specialized activities are subject to heightened review before being offered to guests. This can include verifying hosts have licenses or certifications for the activity. Now, as an extension of our homes and hosts verification, we will introduce new tools that verify the quality and accuracy of Experiences using a series of signals, including information from guests.
- Expand List of Technically-Specialized Experiences – We differentiate between activities like walking tours or pottery classes and technically-specialized activities like flying a helicopter or whitewater rafting. For certain technically-specialized activities, we require hosts to provide proof of licenses, permits and/or certifications. We will expand the list of technically-specialized activities for which we require proof of permits to include outdoor activities near bodies of water (like surfing and hikes), high-altitude trekking, backcountry skiing, and others. We will expand our partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) to operationalize guidelines around these additional activities.
- New Requirements for Technically Specialized Activities – As part of this expansion, we are investing in additional layers of screening and adding new requirements for technically-specialized Experiences. For example, while we’ve always required hosts to have all necessary licenses, we will now begin requiring hosts to submit proof of permits and licenses for Experiences taking place on National Park and USDA Forest Service lands, starting within the United States. We already provide $1M liability insurance to the majority of our hosts and will expand the list of technically-specialized activities for which we require the host to provide additional third-party insurance.
- Double Down on Prohibition of Dangerous Activities – We already prohibit a number of high-risk activities on the platform, including activities like bungee jumping, ice climbing and outdoor skydiving. We will work with our partner, the ATTA, to continue to refine this list and ensure that as outdoor recreation standards evolve, our policies and standards do, too.
These changes are consistent with our ongoing work to invest in our company and support our hosts and guests. We are making significant foundational investments this year that will support our community over the next decade and beyond. These investments include:
- Improvements to our technology platforms
- Offerings such as Airbnb Experiences, Airbnb Luxe, and Airbnb Plus
- Acquisitions like HotelTonight
- Airbnb China
- Marketing, in part to help educate consumers about our new offerings
We can make all of these investments in part because we have operated efficiently and responsibly from our earliest days. As we move forward, we will continue to work to support all stakeholders in the Airbnb community and offer offer updates regarding our progress in the weeks and months ahead.
While this is the first announcement stemming from Airbnb’s 10-day safety sprint, we will have additional trust innovations to share with our community and the public over the coming weeks.