Tourism

Airbnb to vet 7 million listings in overhaul of verification system

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

A move by Airbnb to overhaul its verification system has been met with scepticism from Australia’s accommodation sector.

Co-founder, CEO and head of community, Brian Chesky, announced in a shared company email that all of Airbnb’s listings around the world will fall under a new standard of stricter verification.

His announcement came after verification concerns at listings, and after five people were killed at an unauthorised party held at an Airbnb rental in Orinda, California.

Chesky added Airbnb expects to implement several changes across accuracy of listings and quality standards, with every home and every host on Airbnb to be reviewed with the objective of 100 per cent verification by 15 December 2020.

“Airbnb is founded on trust, and our vision depends on us continuing to increase this in our community,” Chesky said.

The company has also promised to stop unauthorised house parties, after announcing the roll-out of screening tools for “high risk” reservations in North America and then globally through 2020.

But Tourism Accommodation Australia’s (TAA) chief executive Michael Johnson said the measures announced by Airbnb do not go far enough.

“Tellingly, Airbnb have not agreed to delist those properties that do not meet their own self-determined standards, but only to ‘label’ those ones that do,” Johnson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Airbnb will also implement a guest guarantee and an all-hours ‘Neighbor Hotline’ so that anyone can call anytime, anywhere in the world and reach a real person at Airbnb.

“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,” Chesky said.

Recently, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) revealed it intends to seize the financial data of Airbnb short-term rental hosts, as part of a crackdown on tax avoidance.

The move was welcomed by Johnson, who said the ATO’s move will “significantly improve transparency and increase equity between traditional tax paying accommodation providers and the largely unregulated short-stay accommodation sector”.

The move was also welcomed by the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA).

“We will continue to work with political leaders at state and federal level to extend this approach, which creates greater transparency of the unregulated sector and a fair playing field for us to compete and employee Australians,” AAoA chief executive Dean Long said.

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