Airbnb CEO Pledges to Verify 100% of Listings by 2020

A deadly shooting and a bait-and-switch scandal prompt a crisis of trust

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Airbnb is taking steps to restore guests' trust in its listings. Getty Images
Headshot of Ryan Barwick

After a week of (particularly) bad press, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has announced the home-sharing service will be taking the “most significant steps towards designing trust on our platform” since launching in 2008.

Chesky, who is also Airbnb’s co-founder, said the brand will roll out a more stringent verification process across all 7 million of its listings, with the goal of having 100% of properties verified by Dec. 15, 2020.

That process will begin on Dec. 15 of this year. If Airbnb guests arrive at a home that does not match the photos and description provided in the listing, they will be rebooked at a new home of equal or greater value or receive a full refund. Previously, Airbnb gave partial refunds after a complaint was filed, retaining “final say” in all disputes.

The news comes after a tough month for the home-sharing platform. Last week, a Vice investigation uncovered what could be a nationwide Airbnb scam in which guests were misled into purchasing nights in upscale accommodations, only to have their hosts claim something had gone wrong with the original rental and then being delivered to less-than-suitable accommodations.

Airbnb banned party houses after a shooting in Orinda, Calif. on Halloween night that led to the death of five guests staying in an Airbnb rental. Although the company has not defined what “party houses” are, a spokesperson described them to the Washington Post as rental properties where neighbors regularly report disturbances.

Chesky also announced that Airbnb would be launching a Neighbor Hotline staffed with a rapid-response team led by Charles Ramsey, who was a former chief of the Philadelphia and Washington D.C. police departments and Ronald Davis, formerly President Obama’s executive director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The hotline is scheduled to launch before the end of the year.

When asked by the New York Times what these initiatives would cost, Chesky told the news org: “It is a significant investment, but we raised $3.2 billion of capital from investors; we have more money in the bank than we’ve raised. The time is now to make these investments.”

In a company-wide email, Chesky described the situation as a matter of restoring trust. “With these additional protections, we will work together with our community of guests and hosts to reinforce the trust platform that we have built with our community,” he wrote.

“The world moves at the speed of trust, and the more trust that exists, the more access we can all have. Airbnb is founded on trust, and our vision depends on us continuing to increase this in our community.”

A spokesperson for Airbnb declined to comment further on these initiatives.

@RyanBarwick Ryan is a brand reporter covering travel, mobility and sports marketing.