Perceived black customers have a harder time getting reservations

The Airbnb logo displayed on a phone screen and a map of Krakow are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on August 17, 2021. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A report from Airbnb revealed that customers who were perceived as black had a harder time booking stays than other racial groups.

The online rental booking company said its research showed that all perceived racial groups had a 90 per cent chance of securing a place after clicking the ‘Book Now’ button, referred to as the booking success rate.

However, perceived white guests had a success rate of 94.1%, while perceived black guests had a success rate of 91.4%. This was the widest gap measured among different racial groups which also included Asians, Latinos and “Others/Strangers”.

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The study – part of the company’s “Project Lighthouse” initiative – followed its 2016 civil rights audit to help tackle discrimination. A follow-up in 2019 was also carried out.

“Airbnb is built on trust, and we will continue to innovate and design new products and initiatives that increase acceptance and combat bias,” Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said on the Company Website. “Important insights, including data generated by Project Lighthouse, will guide our work to make Airbnb a place where everyone feels welcome. We cannot do this work alone, and our partners have given us feedback incredibly valuable. I am deeply grateful for their insight.”

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Airbnb has been criticized for discrimination. In 2019, an Airbnb host has been banned of house sharing platform after she was filmed using racist language as she spoke to a group of black guests. The New York Times also profiled a black family who said she and her family were discriminated against by a host when they booked a place in New Orleans in July 2021.

Prior to the launch of Project Lighthouse, Airbnb users had to agree to a non-discrimination policy. With this initiative, the company also states that it will investigate cases of discrimination and help users find an alternative place to stay under these circumstances.

The company said it has taken steps to prevent discrimination between hosts and potential guests. Hosts can only see a traveler’s profile after they’ve accepted a reservation. Guests also have the “Instant Book” option where they can secure a reservation without the host’s approval.

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The company is also encouraging hosts to leave more reviews for their guests, which could help guests secure future bookings. The company found that customers perceived as black or Latino/Hispanic had lower reviews than customers perceived as white or Asian.

Additionally, Airbnb executives say they will conduct more audits and reviews after a host rejects a potential guest.

The company also launched an internal team and guidelines to offer resources to hosts to eliminate discrimination.

FOX News contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.

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