Airbnb report finds Black customers have more trouble booking than White counterparts

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Airbnb announced with a new report Tuesday that guests who are perceived as Black have a lower booking-success rate than those who are perceived as White.

The study is part of an effort called Project Lighthouse that aims to find and eliminate discriminatory practices on the platform. The company partnered with such organizations Color of Change, the NAACP and Asian Americans Advancing Justice to help with the report.

Guests who were perceived as White had a 94.1% booking success rate while guests perceived as Black had a 91.4% success rate.

While Airbnb guests need not disclose their race, the study used data to determine what race a host would identify with a first name and a profile image.

While the study shows that all guests’ success rate is over 90%, the company was adamant that it wants to do better.

“It is a meaningful difference and it is unacceptable. It is something that we obviously are not okay with and we are doing a lot to address.” Janaye Ingram, Airbnb’s director of community partner programs and engagement, told CNN.

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Over the past few years, the company has come under fire from users and the media for perceived racially discriminatory policies.

A Harvard experiment in 2015 found that Airbnb hosts were less likely to book with guests who had names that sounded Black and were hit with discriminatory housing lawsuits on behalf of Black guests in 2016 and 2019.

Despite the controversies, the company has made efforts to change.

Along with hosts no longer being able to see photos of possible guests prior to booking, guests are now able to access “Instant Booking” which does not require an approval stage.

Airbnb also created a 24-hour service line to help find new lodging for guests who think they have been discriminated against. Airbnb does not allow hosts to see the race of a potential guest.

The study also uncovered that guests with more reviews tended to have a higher booking success rate, and White and Asian customers had more reviews than Black or Hispanic guests, something the company says it plans to address in the future.

“There is much more work to do. As long as bias and discrimination occur in the world, and on our platform, we will continue to fight it.” the report reads.

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