Airbnb will soon ask customers to verify their identity before booking a reservation.
In an interview with CNBC Friday (Feb. 3), Airbnb head of operations Tara Bunch said that while 80% of the company’s bookings already feature identity verification as an option hosts can request, the company is taking things a step further.
“It’s not so much that people that were booking listings were representing themselves as not being who they are,” Bunch said.
“When you take away the anonymity of not being identify verified, I think it opens up the perception that people could behave badly and not be held accountable, and by definition, tends to cause people to behave a little bit better because they know they will be held accountable for bad actions.”
The report notes that this change puts Airbnb closer to traditional hotels, which typically require guests to present identification before checking in.
It’s also happening at a time when consumers are likely to forgo leisure travel, as recent PYMNTS research has shown.
Just 35% of consumers surveyed for “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report: The Economic Outlook and Sentiment Edition,” a PYMNTS and LendingClub collaboration, said they plan to incur leisure travel expenses this year.
Travel was one area where consumers spent in 2022 regardless of their income status, PYMNTS wrote recently, “as spending in the category was perhaps the most optimistic sign of a post-pandemic recovery in certain types of spend. That performance may not repeat this year.”
Airbnb has been taking steps to attract new customers recently, including letting them choose to see the full price of rentals — including fees before taxes — in search results and on its map, filter and listing page.
That change was in response to consumer complaints that fees were not immediately displayed as part of the listing price.
Also in November, Airbnb debuted a program that lets apartment dwellers transform their places into short-term rentals. The company said its “Airbnb-friendly apartments” program is designed to help people derive some income from hosting amid the rising cost of living.
Airbnb Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky had said last year that the company has seen an increased number of people signing up to rent out their properties due to high inflation, job cuts, rising rates and economic concerns.
“Just like during the Great Recession in 2008 when [Airbnb launched], people today are especially interested in earning extra income through hosting,” he said.