Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Airbnb will soon allow competitors to publish safety information

To boost its reputation as a safe, useful place to stay, Airbnb on Friday said it would soon offer a database containing detailed safety information about home-sharing apps such as HomeAway and VRBO.

“The security of your Airbnb stay is incredibly important, and your safety information is critical to understanding the value of your home sharing and our brand as a whole,” senior vice president of global hospitality product David Hantman said in a post announcing the initiative. “It is important for you to feel safe and in control.”

Airbnb said the information in the database — which it said would be available for use by competitors — would be provided as part of an experience to be included in a property rental on Airbnb, complete with reviews and contact information.

The move comes after Airbnb last month launched a new platform for verified hosts. While still in beta, and only available in a few U.S. cities, the tool looks to decrease fraud in the home-sharing community by placing greater security requirements on host accounts. The new approach is designed to combat scammers and provide greater confidence to guests who use Airbnb, a popular travel service valued at $31 billion.

“This type of open-sourced platform allows us to trust that other hosting platforms will be able to verify for their communities, which will make it safer for our community,” Mr. Hantman wrote.

Bryan Kelly, a spokesman for HomeAway, which specializes in home rentals, said in a statement that this cooperation with Airbnb on a database of home-sharing information was “welcome news,” and that HomeAway would ensure that “additional information” would be included that “should be considered important as homesharing continues to grow and reshape the travel industry.”

Other platforms in the home-sharing space are still hesitant to join such a discussion.

Wendy Frame, a spokeswoman for VRBO, called the plans “interesting and promising,” but added that VRBO was “willing to explore every avenue for reducing fraud and mitigating safety risks.”

There is still some concern about the safety of home-sharing communities, including safety concerns about Airbnb hosts, who frequently list homes for rent on the platform without a proper license.

“The safest thing to do is buy a house, call in a contract for a landlord, which is not illegal,” Senator Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, told the New York Times. “Get a house insured, get a building permit and sell it to an owner.”

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