Airbnb hosts are less likely to accept bookings from black people • The Register

Airbnb guests who are perceived by hosts as black are slightly less successful than white guests even when booking listings, according to a report by Airbnb.

The report comes from Project Lighthouse, an Airbnb initiative launched in 2020 to measure and combat racial discrimination and prejudice on the platform. The initiative focused on the rate at which people of all races across the United States would confirm their reservations after attempting to reserve a seat, something the company called the “booking success rate.”

The project’s findings showed that “the biggest differences are between guests who are perceived as black and guests who are perceived as white,” the internet business said in its report [PDF].

“Our 2021 data shows that guests perceived as Black were able to successfully book the stay of their choice 91.4 percent of the time, versus 94.1 percent for guests perceived as White,” the document adds .

People perceived as Asian or Latino had booking success rates of 93.4 percent.

Project Lighthouse considered only racial bias and did not consider other personal characteristics such as age or gender. In 2018, Airbnb removed the ability to see a guest’s name and photo when reserving listings or rooms to prevent racial discrimination. Now the information is only disclosed after a host has accepted and confirmed a booking.

However, hosts can use other data, such as their name, to guess what a person might look like. When profile pictures were hidden until a reservation was booked, the gap between booking success rates for white and black users decreased by only half a percentage point, did not change significantly, and was not “statistically significant” for other racial groups. Cancellations after the host saw the people’s pictures didn’t work.

Other factors that lead to lower booking success rates are that Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be first-time users and therefore less likely to have been reviewed by hosts. This means they are less likely to be offered Airbnb’s Instant Book feature, which doesn’t require hosts to review reservation requests.

Airbnb said it has since removed the requirement for guests to be recommended by hosts, and users just need to have “a good track record” to make instant booking more accessible to different racial groups.

“We are working to better understand how to build trust between hosts and guests throughout the reservation process. In this work, we examine changes to host and guest profiles to highlight information that fosters a stronger connection, such as B. Guests’ interests and types of activities to have fun while travelling. At the same time, we will continue to explore the impact that other features may have on the possibility of generating bias, for example assessing the effect of initials rather than full names,” she concluded.

Laura Murphy, President of Laura Murphy & Associates and senior advisor for Airbnb’s antidiscrimination efforts, wrote in a statement, “I’m pleased that Airbnb is committed to transparency by using this report to share this data with the public. Too often companies find discrimination issues and want to bury them in secret, but since 2016 Airbnb has committed to taking action and being open about both its progress and its challenges.”

“By sharing the key lessons learned from Project Lighthouse and how the company is putting them into action, Airbnb is once again demonstrating Airbnb’s genuine commitment to fighting discrimination.” ® Airbnb hosts are less likely to accept bookings from black people • The Register

Rick Schindler

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