In a move designed to protect users from rental fraud, Airbnb has announced it will verify every property listing on its platform by December 2020.
Our recent blog post revealed how fraudulent property listings on popular booking platforms like Airbnb are threatening to damage consumer confidence and the short-term rental industry as a whole.
Now – with cases of fraudulent activity via Airbnb on the rise – the company has moved to address the problem. In an email sent to global employees at Airbnb, CEO Brian Chesky announced four solutions aimed at building trust in the platform;
- Property verification
- Guest guarantee
- Neighbour hotline
- Reviewing “high-risk” bookings
Airbnb has started the process of verifying its seven million property listings. In his email, Brian Chesky said: “Homes will be verified for accuracy of the listing (including accuracy of photos, addresses, and listing details) and quality standards (including cleanliness, safety, and basic home amenities), and those that meet our high expectations will be clearly labeled.” The company is aiming to have every property verified by 15 December 2020.
From 15 December 2019, in cases where travellers’ accommodation isn’t found to meet Airbnb’s “accuracy standards”, the company will attempt to book another property of equal or greater value. Failing this, the traveller will receive a full refund on their original booking.
If a traveller or neighbour has a problem with an Airbnb property, they will now be able to speak to a real Airbnb employee via a 24/7 hotline. According to Airbnb, the phone number will be clearly visible in the app, on the site’s homepage, and easy to search via Google.
Reviewing “High Risk” Bookings
Airbnb has also introduced measures to prevent unauthorised parties being hosted in its properties. It comes after five people were left dead at a Halloween party held at an Airbnb rental in California. The company will now manually screen any reservation it considers “high risk”, such as somebody booking a large property in the city that they live for the same night.
Has Airbnb Gone Far Enough?
On the surface, Airbnb’s move towards verifying its property listings looks like a positive step forward, albeit one that could (and should) have been made more than a decade ago.
It’s also unclear whether the platform’s verification process will be robust enough to totally eradicate fake listings. Checking the accuracy of a listing is one thing, but it won’t stop fraudsters using real property photos and addresses to lure people into booking what they believe to be a genuine property, only to discover it’s unavailable to rent or already occupied.
Proper verification requires a significant amount of time and money, as well as document checks and official authentication in the shape of a certificate or logo, which is linked to a verified profile. It remains to be seen whether Airbnb will go into as much depth, or if it will be just as easy to become verified after 15 December 2020.
Taking the Lead on Property Verification
Organizations like I-PRAC are already leading the way when it comes to the verification of short-term rental property. Our platform is recognised by rental professionals and travellers worldwide, and offers a genuine solution to the ever-growing threat of holiday rental fraud.
Since 2016, we have invested thousands to develop a global certification and verification platform that people trust. With fraudsters employing increasingly sophisticated methods to scam unsuspecting travellers into booking fake rental properties, we understand that any measures to tackle this problem must be just as, if not more, sophisticated.
Working closely with governments and employing the latest verification technology, we purposefully make it difficult for rental agencies and property owners to become I-PRAC approved. That’s why, when a traveller books with an I-PRAC member, they know they are dealing with a genuine rental professional whose property meets the advertised standards.
With Airbnb taking steps to verify its hosts, it’s evident that verification is becoming a hot topic, and one that property owners and rental agencies can no longer afford to ignore. If you’re not differentiating yourself as a genuine rental operator, you risk losing out on revenue to those who have been approved by a globally recognised body such as I-PRAC.
As verification moves closer to becoming a requirement for rental professionals worldwide, I-PRAC expects to grow to more than one million members by 2021. Our existing members are already seeing the value of I-PRAC accreditation, while our ability to check property owners and hosts in multiple countries means we can act as an outsourced verification provider for any online rental platform.