Will Racism Be Used To Force Instant Bookings On Airbnb & HomeAway Hosts?

By September 18, 2016 Listings, Marketing, News

Get Ready – The Heat Is About To Get Hotter

Did you notice HomeAway removed your phone number from your listing?

I  recently noticed owner phone numbers were missing on the HomeAway website. A recent Skift article confirmed my suspicions. Here Is what they noticed;

“HomeAway testing the removal of phone numbers from some listings to encourage online bookings”

It seems as if the walls are closing in on those who don’t embrace online booking on listing sites. It’s about to come down hard on you, real soon. What have you done about it? 

Racism The Rocketship To Instant Bookings

airbnb racism homeaway accelerates instant bokings

There’s now more than money and traveler preferences behind pushing the instant booking agenda.

There’s a stronger more hateful force pushing for the instant bookings of vacation rentals. There’s now a social cause behind it – fighting racism.

We know how powerful racism is, we’re seeing a resurgence of racism in our world today.

And according to a recent Harvard social experiment racism is affecting the vacation rental industry too.

  • In the Harvard experiment, they found that hosts approved guests to book their properties with white-sounding names 50% of the time.
  • It was reported hosts approved guests with African-American-sounding names 42% of the time — an eight percentage point and 16% difference.

Some people are questioning if the experiment should even be considered, they’re claiming it’s not a scientific metric.

However, the experiment has been enough to validate claims from travelers who said they experienced racial discrimination from Airbnb and HomeAway hosts.

These racial concerns have birthed two niche vacation rental listing sites created by individuals to combat against the issue of racism in the vacation rental sharing economy they were experiencing.

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Noirbnb.com

Will the fight against racism in the VR industry speed up the push for instant bookings on vacation rental listing sites?

Yes, mainly because with online booking you don’t have a choice of who books, It eliminates the racial profiling during the booking process and that is why you’re about to see a big push for instant bookings across the board. 

Could the cause of combating racism in the name of “fairness” help to lower the resistance from owners and managers who are unwilling to make the instant booking switch? We’ll just have to see…

Both HomeAway and AirBnB are taking steps by making changes to their websites and platforms in their effort to fight racism.

Known Changes Airbnb & HomeAway Are Making

  • Airbnb and HomeAway both are focusing on increasing instant bookings on their site so there will be no vetting of guests.
  • Airbnb is rolling out changes in 2017 to property calendars to prevent you from blocking dates on the calendar then later opening the dates up to accept bookings.

That would seem like a good idea to deter a host from denying a guest based on their race by saying “we’re booked.”  However this change would also benefit the “system” by preventing managers and owners from saving (blocking) popular dates like Christmas by marking them booked – keeping more inventory available in the marketplace.

  • Airbnb is also running experiments about removing photos of the travelers who inquire. Users are requesting to keep their photos and information more private during the booking process to prevent them from being discriminated against.  Expect more changes in this area.

Racism is also costing Airbnb and HomeAway big dollars in commissions from bookings owners and managers are not accepting.

Racism Affects The Bottom Line

The Harvard researchers also checked back to see whether the host ultimately filled the spot after rejecting the fictional black guest. Hosts only did so 35% of the time.

They calculated that hosts lost about $65 to $100 each time they rejected black guests. This is definitely another motivator for the move.

Will Vacation Rental Sites Leverage Racism To Force Instant Bookings

Michael Endelman an Airbnb vacation rental executive said instant bookings are going mainstream.

The content of a recent Skift article appears to suggest there’s no turning back to the 24 hour “request to book” – it’s a dying concept.

Are you ready to flip the switch to online bookings? Have you already? There are changes coming.

What do you think?