Worldwide: Airbnb will soon require verification from a valid government-issued ID or a legal address at the time of reservation.
Tara Bunch, global head of operations at Airbnb, said that while 80 per cent of the rental platform’s bookings already feature identity verification, the company is taking the additional step for safety reasons, upon the request of hosts.
The move is designed to bring Airbnb closer to the sort of verification seen in traditional hotels, where front desk staff can request a form of identification from a guest prior to check-in. While many other vacation rental booking platforms, such as Vrbo, do not require identification, they do however allow guests or hosts to submit information that verifies their identity.
Bunch told CNBC: “It’s not so much that people that were booking listings were representing themselves as not being who they are. When you take away the anonymity of not being identified verified, I think it opens up the perception that people could behave badly and not be held accountable, and by definition, tends to cause people to behave a little bit better because they know they will be held accountable for bad actions.”
She said that Airbnb’s ID verification efforts are in line with building trust with its users and attracting guests and hosts to the platform.
It is not the first time that Airbnb has publicly spoken about rooting out antisocial or raucous behaviour at its listings, but the move to bring in compulsory ID verification would represent a significant step.
Last June, the company followed through with a permanent ban on house parties at its listings following a series of high-profile incidents and parties that thrust Airbnb into the national and global spotlight, including a shooting at one of its listings in Orinda, California in 2019 that killed five people. At the time, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky pledged that the company would verify 100 per cent of its listings, and other safety features such as a ‘guest guarantee’ and 24/7 neighbour hotline were introduced.
In the same month, Airbnb also rolled out a new product aimed at promoting a safe and secure experience for solo travellers.
In order to prevent house parties, Brunch said that Airbnb had relied on machine learning to identify factors such as the age of the individual booker, the amount of time they had been on the platform, how far away they lived from a large home they were booking, and the number of times potential guests had attempted to book the same property in close geographic areas.
Airbnb will use technology to confirm and verify the identify of its bookers, as well as manual reviews on occasion, as a way of eliminating fraudulent activity on its platform, for example when some people have intentionally used fake identities to defraud other users, or unverified users have used stolen credit cards to engage in financial fraud schemes.