Your November 2019 Host Q&A Recap
Guest standards, new safety features, and irrelevant reviews are just some of the hot topics we covered at Host Q&A in Austin, Texas, in November. Though the questions were asked by local hosts in Austin, they reflect questions we’ve heard from hosts around the world. Check out the conversation with Airbnb executives about the issues that matter most to you.
To turn on translated subtitles, click the “CC” (Closed Captioning) button underneath the video screen when viewing.
Question 1: What is Airbnb doing to protect hosts from bad guests?
We understand how important it is for you to feel a real sense of safety when hosting in your space. You want Airbnb to help prevent things from going wrong and to be there in the rare but unfortunate moments when they do.
Next year, we’ll be ramping up our commitment to guest standards on Airbnb. We recently announced our new Guest Standards Policy, which will introduce a system for tracking and removing bad guests from the platform over time. When a guest fails to meet one of the standards outlined in the policy, they'll receive a warning. If the behavior continues, it could lead to suspension or removal from the platform.
These guest standards build upon existing policies we already have in place to address the more serious trust and safety issues that result in immediate removal from the platform. We’re enhancing our system to better monitor guests who engage in less serious misconduct, so that we can educate these guests and take appropriate action if they don’t correct their behavior.
Question 2: What is Airbnb doing to support hosts when things go wrong?
We’re committed to ensuring you have the tools and support you need in those moments. We recently began testing our Urgent Support Line in the U.S. and plan to expand to more countries next year. For critical matters related to your security or safety, Airbnb app users in the U.S. with access to the pilot can tap the “Call Airbnb's Urgent Support Line" button in the Safety Center (available via the Profile tab) to quickly connect to a specialist for help. Keep in mind that the Urgent Support Line button is designed to be available only for active reservations, from the day before check-in to the day after checkout. We’re also rolling out a new local emergency button, which provides a direct line to local emergency services. For non-urgent issues, we’ve introduced a live chat feature to English and Mandarin speakers this year, with plans to roll it out in seven more languages next year. It’s currently the fastest way to get help for things like updating your calendar or adjusting your pricing.
Of course, these new features are only as effective as the teams that support them, which is why we’ve prioritized growing and restructuring the customer support team. Just this year, we expanded our global staff by thousands of agents, and we reorganized and refocused the team to make it more efficient. We’ve set it up so that more experienced agents handle more complex issues—this means you won’t have to go through multiple agents before you get connected to them.
We’ve also been training our claims specialists to show more empathy and understanding, and we’ve implemented a process that speeds up resolution and payout for hosts who are more tenured on the platform. Finally, we’re working on improving our workflows to ensure that the same issues are handled the same way every time.
Question 3: What is Airbnb doing to improve the review system?
We know how much you rely on reviews to grow your business, and we know that a review may sometimes be misleading or contain content unrelated to the stay. We hear you. And we want you to know that we’re working hard to make them better—it’s a journey, and your feedback is essential to getting there.
Earlier this year, we built a new tool that automatically detects an inconsistent review, then interrupts the flow to flag that inconsistency. Similarly, if a guest leaves a low rating for something like location or value—two categories that can be interpreted in different ways—they’ll get interrupted with a clarifying question. These interruptions force guests to think a little more about the rating they’re giving, and they also give guests a chance to go back and correct it. And we’re already seeing more consistency between the category scores and overall scores as a result.
Most importantly, we also recently updated our Review Policy. We focused these changes around some of the issues you find most frustrating: irrelevant reviews and biased reviews. Under the updated policy—effective December 11, 2019—we’ve empowered our agents to remove these types of reviews, and guests and hosts who repeatedly violate the policy may face consequences including account suspension and removal.
Question 4: Is Airbnb losing focus on host-to-guest interactions?
That connectedness—the special magic that happens between hosts and guests—is what hosts like you uniquely bring to the platform. It’s also what makes people choose Airbnb. And it’s core to our mission to allow anyone to belong anywhere—belonging can’t happen without human connection.
Listings like yours drive our business. We’re committed—and will forever be committed—to our host community. This fall, we celebrated that community with our first major ad campaign in two years. We wanted to make a statement to the world about who we are and what’s important to us, so we chose to showcase what makes our community so amazing: hosts like you.
Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.