Airbnb creates UK Trust and Safety Alliance

UK: In what has been called a “European first”, Airbnb has launched the UK Trust and Safety Alliance, a network of expert organisations that will work closely with the home-sharing platform in the UK and provide information and guidance to hosts and the Airbnb community.

Founding members of the Trust and Safety Alliance include the National Fire Chief’s Council, Neighbourhood Watch, Crimestoppers, Get Safe Online, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Race on the Agenda.

The Alliance has been set up to engage with Airbnb hosts on a quarterly basis through the company’s ‘Meet the Experts’ series, and it will also produce guides and information on a consistent basis.

Airbnb has previously produced guides for hosts in partnership with Crimestoppers on spotting suspicious signs whilst hosting, with the National Fire Chief’s Council on fire safety and Get Safe Online about watching out for online fraud.

Amanda Cupples, general manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb, said: “We are always looking for ways to enhance the safety of  hosted travel in the UK and now have the backing of some of the leading safety organisations in the UK to help us achieve that goal. We have a long history of working together with expert organisations to bolster safety for our community and the Alliance will help us to achieve more moving forward.”

Since announcing a global ban on house parties and unauthorised events on listed properties last summer, Airbnb has been keen to show that it is addressing problematic guests and activities through its platform, especially now that it has its stakeholders to answer to since going public via an IPO [initial public offering] in December.

The Alliance is the latest step in the process to make hosted travel more safe and appealing to different traveller demographics. It follows Airbnb’s pledge to remove or suspend all so-called “party listings”, introduce pilot booking restrictions to prevent neighbourhood disturbances, and call for the introduction of a registration system for short-term rentals to ensure that operators will abide by strict health and safety standards.

Last month, Airbnb teamed up with Expedia Group brand Vrbo to take care of “disruptive party houses” by developing the Community Integrity Program, which is designed to “identify properties that have been permanently removed from each platform due to repeated violations of respective community policies” alongside a third-party intermediary.

Both home-sharing platforms have brought in initiatives to address the challenges of monitoring party houses – the Neighborhood Support Line [Airbnb] and Stay Neighborly [Vrbo] – which allow hosts and neighbours to elevate issues and prevent offenders from re-listing on one platform if they have been removed from the other.

In May, Airbnb committed to providing “world class support” for its global host and guest community, offering everything from emergency information, community leader support, updated safety resources and a redesigned help centre, through its “most comprehensive service updates ever”.

The services will ensure a more coordinated response to violence or illegal parties in short-term rentals, both of which have flared up during lockdowns, and help hosts and anyone wanting to be a host to take advantage of the pent-up demand for travel.