A new study has found that Black guests have more difficulty securing Airbnb rentals.
In the report released on Tuesday, Airbnb admitted users who were thought to be white had a booking success rate of 94.1%. On the contract, users who were perceived to be Black had a success rate of 91.4%.
Janaye Ingram, Airbnb’s director of community partner programs and engagement, called the gap “unacceptable” and vowed to take steps to change these statistics. The findings were unveiled as part of the company’s Project Lighthouse initiative. The program was implemented in collaboration with Color of Change and several other organizations in 2020 to examine and combat racial discrepancies in the service.
Project Lighthouse was put in place following several instances of documented prejudice. In 2015, Harvard released an explosive investigation that found Airbnb hosts were less likely to rent to guests with urban-sounding names. A lawsuit followed the next year, though a federal judge later blocked it. In 2019, the company settled a lawsuit with several Black women in Oregon who were discriminated against solely because of their race by Airbnb hosts.
One major change that arrived in 2018 was Airbnb eliminating guests’ photos before a reservation was confirmed. The “Instant Book” feature lets guests make reservations before host approvals and has also provided some remedies for racial disparities. Online resources for hosts, such as a guide on the Airbnb website titled “How to Be an Even More Inclusive Host,” was also rolled out this year. While all steps are in the right direction, based on the new findings, there is still a long way to go.
“We’re excited to be on this journey of addressing discrimination. It has no place in our platform and in our community,” Ingram stated.