In 2019, Brian Chesky made a pledge to verify all of Airbnb’s listings – in an attempt to increase trust on the platform and empower guests to book short-term rental stays with confidence. By 2023, Chesky’s mission finally launched. However, the results so far have been underwhelming to say the least.

I-PRAC’s Neely Khan shares her thoughts.


The truth about host verification (and why it’s no easy feat)

You will never really know verification until you have scuttled through the behind-the-scenes action yourself.

It has been six months since I was appointed Managing Director of I-PRAC, and the most eye-opening part for me has been seeing the intricacies of I-PRAC’s application process.

Admittedly, maintaining the efficiency and reliability of our application process is a labour of love – often managed among myself, I-PRAC’s senior approval team, and the digital experts whom we partner with. The application itself was designed by Chris Maughan (CEO and founder of I-PRAC) in 2016; and has since undergone numerous updates. In fact, just last week I was manually editing some of the sections myself, following the most recent round of feedback we’ve received from applicants.

The point I’m trying to make, is that designing, building, and maintaining a verification process that can be 100% trusted is no small endeavour. Maughan invested a quarter of a million euros (of his own money) to launch I-PRAC, as the amount of development work that goes into a platform like this is phenomenal.

I make this statement from first-hand experience – after having familiarised myself with I-PRAC’s application process and working with our expert team at length.

So, you can only imagine mine (and our team’s) surprise when Airbnb announced that it had started verifying its listings earlier this year. When in actual fact, all the platform is doing, is asking most of its hosts to check two boxes.

Checking two boxes in the name of industry verification. Surely this is something that ought to be challenged?

Has Airbnb bitten off more than it can chew?

Chesky’s announcement in 2019 was bold. To date, there are 7 million listings on Airbnb, and the OTA giant has started by verifying listings in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and France. This is after it removed 56,000 fake listings from its platform in 2023 alone.

But here’s the kicker: The verification for Airbnb’s pro hosts consists of checking just two boxes that essentially, ‘self-verifies’ operators, as they attest to the fact that they are who they say they are.

Astonishingly, no other proof is required.


Individual hosts are asked to provide photos or videos as part of the verification process; and then, Airbnb’s team checks if these match-up to the listings.

Now, there’s no doubt that Airbnb has positioned itself as a leader in the short-term rental industry. But even the popular kids make mistakes, too – and here’s why Airbnb’s makeshift verification process is a factory of red flags:

1) The verification process clearly favours Airbnb’s pro hosts – who do not need to do anything other than self-verify. The problem is, Airbnb recognises ‘pro hosts’ as either hosts who are public companies (such as Vacasa or Sonder), or hosts who have more than 15 to 20 listings. And scammers, unfortunately, are known to post multiple listings on Airbnb. Rarely do scammers post just one listing at a time and wait for a victim to take the bait. No, they try and give themselves a fighting chance of deceiving guests.

2) The premise of trustworthy verification is to have a registered, recognised and professional third party to verify the host. When a host endorses themselves, it defies the point of verification – but for some reason, this is in fact what Airbnb is asking pro hosts to do.

3) Unfortunately, asking individual hosts to provide photos or videos of their property will not always protect guests from holiday rental fraud. Scammers are smart. They are sophisticated. It is easy for them to doctor images (or just steal existing ones from legitimate hosts) and claim them as their own.

4) It’s a shame to admit, but Airbnb’s entire verification process is complacent at best. So much so that even the OTA themselves indirectly admit to this on the Airbnb Help Centre. Quote: “A listing being ‘Verified’ only means that the Host has provided info in order to complete our listing verification process. This process has safeguards, but is not a guarantee that a listing is what the Host claims it to be. For more information on the process of verification, including the many ways Hosts may have their listings considered verified, please see below”.

So, after a rather loud announcement (some may argue, a ‘PR strategy’), we have come to the conclusion that Airbnb still cannot guarantee that verified hosts are in fact, who they say they are.

Which begs me to ask the question: What is the point of launching a verification process when it cannot even be trusted?

Guests (and legitimate hosts) deserve verification that actually does its job

The fact that I-PRAC verification means 100% protection against payment and holiday rental fraud is not extraordinary. It is simply us doing the job that industry verification is supposed to do.

Verification should provide a guarantee.

But getting to a place of guarantee requires hard work and effort. When an STR host begins I-PRAC’s verification process, the first thing they see is a clear list of all the information and documentation that will be asked of them during the application. There is a caveat to explain that if any parts of the application remain incomplete (or that the supporting documents are unclear or in the incorrect format) then I-PRAC Approval will not be granted. An immediate tone is set: we take verification very seriously.



The application process itself is categorised into different parts. Hosts are asked for proof of ID, proof of address, proof of business/ property ownership – and this also requires photographs that are reverse-searched on the internet by the approval’s team, and utility bills addressed to the business that is seeking I-PRAC Approval.

To protect guests from payment fraud, proof of banking information is also required during I-PRAC’s application process. Including IBAN and Swift codes, and Paypal, Stripe, and other payment link details.

We will even go to the lengths of studying the members’ social media handles; and if anything is flagged-up as suspicious (for example, the social media profiles seem fake, or are clearly not all of the same person), then approval will be stalled until the team is satisfied with the legitimacy of all the owners linked to the short-term rental business.

This is how industry verification (that provides a 100% guarantee) is achieved. And as you have probably fathomed, it leans on the knowledge and skill of a team of experts – rather than the STR hosts themselves who are asked to self-verify.

So, how can Airbnb ensure that they’re successfully verifying listings?

7 million listings is a huge number. And we have to give credit to Airbnb for at least making a start with their verification mission. However, in order for the OTA to be successful with this and guarantee guests 100% safety and peace of mind, they will need to revisit their verification process and partner-up with the experts of this niche.

By doing this, Airbnb could become the only OTA to provide a trust guarantee and no longer be littered with 56,000 fake listings that are far too easily slipping between the cracks. In fact, our biggest fear is that Airbnb’s current verification process will only encourage fraudulent operators to continue stealing from guests, as they will now realise how easy it is to become ‘verified’ on the platform.

So, Airbnb, the question is: Will you do your part to improve your verification process, so that it actually provides guests with a trust guarantee? Or will that pledge from 2019 fail to see a follow-through?

I think we know what we’re hoping this OTA giant will do.


There are at least 22 guests being scammed every week by fraudulent operators in the UK alone (as per our in-house research). Short-term rental hosts who are interested in becoming I-PRAC Approved and offering guests 100% protection from payment and holiday rental fraud, can start an application on the homepage of I-PRAC’s website.

£449.50 per year for Agency Approval (hosts who manage more than one property)

£199.50 per year for Private Property Approval (hosts who manage one property)