In our efforts to meet our safety and trust objectives, and to continue to invest in the safety and security of our community and our platform, our teams have focused their efforts in five core areas:
- Supporting our Hosts and guests
- Working with community stakeholders
- Curtailing disruptive gatherings
- Quality standards
And we believe our efforts are working. Between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, only .086 percent of trips included a safety issue reported by a Host or guest.
Today, we’re sharing an update on our progress in each of these areas.
Supporting our community
Guest Refund Policy
We committed to rebooking the guest in a new listing of equal or greater value if the listing qualifies under specified qualifying travel issues pursuant to our Guest Refund Policy.
COVID-19 Extenuating Circumstances refunds
When the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, we were faced with a dilemma. Airbnb activated our Extenuating Circumstances policy to provide for refunds for eligible guests. This difficult decision was made in the interest of public health, despite the impact to the livelihood of our Host community and our business.
We also committed $250M in support funds to help impacted Hosts recover and get through these tough times.
In June 2020, we introduced Project Lighthouse, a groundbreaking initiative launched in the US to uncover, measure and help overcome discrimination when booking or hosting on Airbnb.
After a successful pilot, we’ve expanded our Urgent Support Line to 100 percent of Airbnb users who have selected English as their primary language, with plans for further expansion to include additional languages throughout 2021. This line provides Hosts and guests facing certain time sensitive issues urgent access to a team of specialized agents.
Local emergency services contacts
A substantial portion of Airbnb reservations are for international travel, and many guests traveling to a foreign country or region may not know how best to reach local authorities in the event of an emergency. In select markets and with plans for further expansion, the Airbnb app both on iOS and Android mobile phones now has an easy feature to make a direct call to local authorities in the event of an emergency.
Tools and resources for female solo travelers
We’re developing educational tools and resources focused on supporting solo travel, and particularly women traveling alone. This new set of features includes:
- An easy way to share your itinerary, so friends and family know when and where you’ll be.
- Tools to help you connect with your Host on important, common questions.
- Safety tips for travelers heading out on their own.
You’ll see these features appear throughout the Airbnb platform in the coming months
Working with community stakeholders
Neighborhood support hotline
Providing direct access for guests, Hosts, and the communities in which we operate is critical to trust on our platform. In December 2019, we launched a neighborhood support hotline in the US so that neighbors can reach us directly with their concerns. In the time since, the hotline has expanded to Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Spain, Korea, Brazil and Puerto Rico. Additional global rollout will continue throughout 2021, including support in additional languages. This hotline has proven to be an important tool in our efforts to combat unauthorized gatherings and enforce our ban on disruptive parties in accordance with our parties and events policies.
Launch of the Airbnb City Portal
Over the last five years, dating back to the launch of the Airbnb Community Compact, Airbnb has outlined and acted on our commitment to working with governments. From Seattle to Hamburg, and Cape Town to Porto Seguro, and Japan to Vancouver, we have partnered with hundreds of cities, states, provinces and countries worldwide to help ensure tourism is benefiting communities directly.
In line with that, last year we launched Airbnb’s City Portal, an industry-first tool, built exclusively for governments and tourism organizations, that includes compliance tools and locally-specific data for a deeper partnership with Airbnb. City Portal’s technology directly connects the Airbnb platform with governments and tourism organizations.
Today, 40 local and national governments and destination marketing organizations (DMOs) access and utilize the Portal.
Addressing hate groups and dangerous organizations
The attack on the Capitol further motivated our work on this issue. As we’ve learned the names of individuals confirmed to have participated in the violent criminal activity at the US Capitol on January 6, we’ve investigated whether the named individuals have an account on Airbnb.
Through this work, we have removed numerous individuals from Airbnb’s platform.
Additionally, in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, DC, we canceled reservations in the Washington, DC metro area during the Inauguration week.
Stopping disruptive gatherings
Party house ban
In November 2019, Brian Chesky took a stand against “party houses” and formally banned them from our platform in accordance with our policies. We went on to expand on that ban with more transparency about the policy, including a ban on “open-invite” parties as well as large disruptive gatherings in apartment or condo buildings.
Since then, we have continued to enforce this policy, carrying out penalties for violators in markets like Los Angeles, Florida, Australia and more. Many of these suspensions and removals have stemmed from issues raised to us by neighbors through the Neighborhood Support Line.
Global ban on disruptive parties
To build on our efforts to crack down on “party houses” – and in the context of the ongoing public health crisis – in August 2020, we announced a global ban on disruptive parties and events at Airbnb listings, in accordance with our policies and in the interest of public health. This ban has been well received by our global Host community, the majority of whom already prohibited parties in their listings’ House Rules.
We also took measures within our platform to promote responsible behavior such as removing the “event-friendly” search filter and removing any “parties and events allowed” House Rules in listings.
Redirecting certain local reservations
We announced additional safety defenses aimed at protecting our Hosts, including an initiative in the US and Canada that restricts certain guests under the age of 25 from booking entire home listings in their local area under certain circumstances. This technology has blocked thousands of distinct reservation attempts in the US and Canada. This restriction does not block guests from booking private room listings and hotel rooms through Airbnb. This technology has also been expanded to the UK, France and Spain.
We also shared out an additional technology which prevents certain last minute bookings of entire home listings on extremely short notice, based on data showing that certain last-minute reservations have historically resulted in a disproportionate number of unauthorized parties. This protection has blocked thousands of distinct reservation attempts in the United States and Canada.
To help enforce our party policy during higher-risk events like Halloween and New Year’s Eve, we introduced new systems and rules to strengthen our Hosts’ protection against unauthorized parties. We believe it worked. Those weekends were generally quiet, and these initiatives were well-received by our Host community.
That’s why we’re introducing new rules aimed at helping to prevent unauthorized parties over the 4th of July. Guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb will be prohibited from making one night reservations in entire home listings in the United States during July 4th weekend.
To help deter unacceptable behavior, we’ve begun taking legal action against booking guests and party promoters in certain cases involving unauthorized parties. We’ve taken this action so far in Sacramento, Cincinnati, New York and Glendora, CA, and we won’t hesitate to take future legal action if necessary.
Cleanliness and COVID-19 safety
The impact of the pandemic on our community, our company and global travel led us to make some adjustments and improvements. For example, we have launched our Enhanced Clean program, as we understand in this current environment that cleanliness is critical. This program includes five important steps: prepare, clean, sanitize, check, and reset.
We have also announced that Hosts and guests must agree to follow Airbnb’s COVID-19 Safety Practices, which include wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and, for Hosts and their teams, abiding by that five-step enhanced cleaning process. This commitment will help provide extra assurances to try and safeguard all our stakeholders – Hosts, guests, their communities and governments.
We have made strides in our identity verification program, which is critical to building trust within our community. Currently 81 percent of our bookings for stays globally are between a Host and guest who have each completed an identity verification process, and in the US, that increases to 97 percent of bookings. And in the following countries, the figure is 90 percent or above: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Switzerland and the UK. Our team is working to elevate that rate globally over the next year.
Our Listing Security Policy, written in 2019, requires all Hosts to properly secure their listings, and that includes requiring that key exchanges are made safely and securely. This policy covers scenarios like leaving a key under a doormat or at an unsecure shop, in addition to failing to change the building entry lockbox or keypad code between reservations. We are always working to strengthen our community policies and enforcement procedures and regularly review them as we work to do all we can for our community.
We’ve brought on two hires at the leadership level to further elevate our trust and safety systems. Donald Hicks joined in February as our VP of Trust Policy & Partnerships, where he oversees Airbnb’s policies and support pertaining to important issues like safety, Host and guest standards, anti-discrimination and more. And Brent Potts joined in March as VP of Community Support, where he leads a team of thousands of Support Ambassadors and staff who work tirelessly to help our community.
We continue to elevate our frontline Community Support staff to provide the best possible service to our Host and guest community as travel demand surges. Hiring is taking place on a global scale, to support our community throughout the world and maintain 24/7 service.