Airbnb is a popular global accommodation site
AIRBNB, the global online accommodation site, has announced the introduction of a raft of measures to tackle reports that ethnic minorities are less likely to be able to book rooms through the site.
The new measures include asking users to sign an anti-discrimination agreement, reducing the prominence of photos and introducing new technology to the website.
Many customers have complained to the company about the issue of racism, while a study last year found that customers with names suggesting they were black were discriminated against.
Users shared stories of being told a particular listing was unavailable, only to discover that the same places were re-advertised as available on the dates they had asked about.
Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky said: “Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them. Unfortunately, we have been slow to address these problems, and for this I am sorry.”
New technology will now mean that if a host has said a particular date is unavailable, they will not be able to then offer those same dates to a different guest.
The company is also expanding its instant booking scheme, which allows guests to book rooms immediately and without specific approval from the host.
Meanwhile Airbnb will provide anti-bias training for all its employees and all users will have to agree to the company’s “stronger, more detailed non-discrimination policy”.
Some critics had wanted the site’s photo policy removed, but Airbnb said it was an important security feature for users.