New features coming to the short-term rental platform are aimed at protecting existing hosts and bolstering their numbers.
Airbnb is cracking down on parties booked through its service and will require that all guests in top countries verify their identity for a booking to be successfully completed. The new policies are meant to improve hosting experiences and drive more bookings to the platform.
Starting today, Airbnb will require that all users verify their identity if they’re booking in any of the platform’s top 35 countries and regions, representing 90 percent of all reservations. Tara Bunch, Airbnb’s head of global operations, said in an interview with Fast Company that around 80 percent of the platform’s guests and hosts were already verified prior to this expansion. The process requires guests to verify their identity using personal information such as their legal name, address, phone number, and other contact details, and Airbnb may request a government ID and / or a selfie.
The San Francisco-based company also announced the launch of its anti-party screening technology across the US and Canada, which mostly focuses on younger guests without positive reviews attempting to book local stays near their home addresses. An earlier variation of this tool was tested in Australia, which Airbnb claims resulted in a 35 percent drop in reported unauthorized parties. Both mandatory guest verification and anti-party screening will be rolled out globally sometime in early 2023.
Most of these new features are included under an expansion of AirCover, Airbnb’s free damage protection program for hosts, which is also increasing its limit for damage claims from $1 million to $3 million. The service has been expanded to cover additional damages caused by guests or their pets to cars, boats, art, and valuables like jewelry or collectibles at their appraised value.
Finally, a new optional onboarding service called Airbnb Setup allows homeowners interested in hosting on Airbnb to be matched with a superhost (experienced hosts with top-ranking guest reviews), who will guide them through how to get started with the platform. According to Fast Company’s reporting, superhost mentors who participate in the program will be paid an unspecified sum.
Given the current economic climate, it’s not surprising that Airbnb is taking steps to try and attract new hosts to the platform. As the threat of a recession grows ever more prominent in regions like the US and UK, it’s likely that people will look for new ways to stretch their cash — echoing the circumstances surrounding Airbnb’s founding. “Airbnb was born during a recession,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO. “Joe [Gebbia] and I couldn’t afford to pay our rent, so we inflated three air mattresses and created an AirBed & Breakfast. Soon, people all around the world joined us.”
The platform appears to have snapped back from the period of low bookings over the covid pandemic, reporting that half of new listings during Q3 2022 received their first reservation within three days. Still, a drive to attract new hosts isn’t likely to impress folks in areas affected by a housing crisis, with some directly blaming Airbnb and similar short-stay rental platforms for contributing to property shortages.