In a bid to restore trust and ensure transparency for its users, Airbnb is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to tackle the growing issue of fraudulent listings on its platform.
- Fake Listings Challenge: Airbnb has identified and removed 59,000 counterfeit listings this year, while successfully blocking an additional 157,000 from being added.
- User Concerns: A recent survey by Airbnb revealed user concerns over high cleaning fees and perceived inflated prices.
- Pricing Transparency: Over 260,000 hosts have either reduced or eliminated cleaning fees this year, following Airbnb’s introduction of an all-inclusive pricing display.
- Dynamic Pricing: CEO Brian Chesky hints at the introduction of “seasonal dynamic pricing”, a feature allowing hosts to frequently adjust prices, mirroring strategies used by airlines and hotels.
- Verification Drive: By the end of the year, Airbnb aims to verify all listings in its top five markets, including the US and UK, to counteract the surge in fake listings.
The San Francisco-based home-sharing giant has been grappling with the challenge of counterfeit listings, which not only lead to financial losses in terms of refunds and rebooking but also pose a significant threat to the company’s reputation. As Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO, aptly put it, “The biggest risk is to our reputation. If users can’t trust the authenticity of a listing, they might opt for a hotel stay instead.”
To address this, Airbnb is rolling out an innovative AI-based verification process. Hosts will be required to physically enter their property, launch the Airbnb app, and use its GPS feature to confirm their location. The AI will then cross-reference live photos taken by the host with the images uploaded on the listing. Properties that clear this verification in countries like the US, UK, Canada, France, and Australia will be adorned with a “verified” badge from February onwards. This initiative will be expanded to 30 more countries by the end of the following year.
Furthermore, in response to feedback about Airbnb’s affordability, the company has made strides in pricing transparency. Chesky mentioned that the recent changes in how prices are showcased aim to deter hosts from advertising low rates only to slap on additional fees later. Interestingly, only a third of Airbnb’s clientele has taken advantage of this feature.
In the pipeline is the introduction of “seasonal dynamic pricing”, a technology-driven approach that will empower hosts to adjust their prices in real-time, similar to the dynamic pricing models adopted by airlines and hotels. This not only incentivizes hosts to offer discounts during low-demand periods but also allows them to capitalize on peak seasons.
With these measures, Airbnb hopes to fortify its position as a trusted platform for travelers and hosts alike, ensuring a seamless and genuine experience for its vast user base in the Asia Pacific and beyond.