Airbnb urges hosts not to discriminate against travelers
In a city where the average rent is around $ 4,000, finding cheap and affordable housing is a long and tiring task. Learn about the invention of Airbnb, a service that puts customers in direct contact with hosts by allowing them to rent their vacant rooms and empty apartments at an affordable price.
As a website user, host and traveler, this reporter co-authored the convenience of Airbnb. The $ 2.5 billion company enables owners and travelers to connect in an innovative way that users say is safer than Craigslist and more affordable than hotels. It’s a great way for travelers to find accommodation in their price range and live like a local while hosts make some cash. But, like any other large business, Airbnb also has its flaws.
Airbnb has been investigated for discrimination against travelers by hosts. In fact, the problem was so serious that the company had to publish a series of emails aimed at preventing hosts from directly and unconsciously discriminating against potential guests based on race, gender identity, etc.
In 2015, Gregory Selden, a 25-year-old black man living in Richmond, Virginia, tweeted that he had been rejected by an Airbnb host because of his skin color. Selden told the New Yorker that it could be cheaper to stay at someone’s house, through Airbnb, than to rent a hotel, so he created an Airbnb profile, with a photo and some basic information about himself, and sent a request to a host the place looked inviting.
But when Selden made the reservation, the hosts quickly responded and claimed the dates had been taken. This response prompted Selden to create two fake profiles, “Jessie” and “Todd” as white travelers. Selden requested the same dates for Jessie and Todd and immediately received a response from the hosts who accepted the reservation.
A similar situation arose when Aina Fadina tried to reserve a seat. Her two hosts claimed dates were not available and even said they had family to come. Fadina asked, “Why are their places still open for reservations?
“I even felt the need to let the host know that I was coming for a business conference to make them feel comfortable,” said Fadina.
Brian Chesky, CEO and Co-Founder of Airbnb sent a letter to hosts and guests titled “Airbnb’s Work to Combat Discrimination and Promote Inclusion”.
“From November 1, everyone who uses Airbnb must agree to a stronger and more detailed non-discrimination policy,” the email reads. “We’re not just asking you to check a box associated with a long legal document. We ask everyone to accept what we call Airbnb Community Engagement, which says:
We believe that no matter who you are, where you are from or where you travel, you should be able to be a part of the Airbnb community. By joining this community, you agree to treat all other members of this community, regardless of race, religion, national origin, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, with respect and without judgment or bias.
This agreement has been sent to all Airbnb hosts under the heading “How to welcome the world”. The statement said, “As part of Airbnb’s efforts to combat discrimination and advocate for belonging, we have developed resources to help you understand travelers’ experiences and become more aware of hidden biases. This is just the start, and we hope you are as determined as we are in making this world a more welcoming place for everyone.
We’ve teamed up with experts, dedicated to understanding the science of discrimination, to explore how bias affects how we treat each other and what we can do about it. The new Host Toolkit will challenge, encourage, and uncover prejudice and take action against discrimination.
But in America today, it is just not that easy to “uncover the prejudices”. Hosts choose to accept or decline the guest they want. These decisions can be based on anything, including gender, race, and sexuality. What Airbnb can do is delete photos before a guest is accepted or limit the number of times a host can reject a guest.
Jason Mickle, a host in Harlem who rents a room in his apartment has hope for Airbnb. “I am an African American gay man,” he said. “As a guest traveling to Florida last August, my requests to reserve a space were denied. Now, I don’t know why, and I’m not making assumptions, but there is a strong possibility that some people will be rejected for reasons as simple as ethnicity, sexuality, etc.
He continued, “I think there is a need to have a system of checks and balances, especially in this country and in this environment. Now is the time for Airbnb to make sure it is doing its part to ensure that everyone is allowed to use Airbnb and does not face any type of discrimination.