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To verify 7.7 million listings, as untold numbers are constantly dropping off and new ones are added in more than 220 countries, is a daunting task. By its nature, this will be an imperfect process.

More than four years after Airbnb pledged to verify all of its listings, the company said Monday it will soon have nearly 1.5 million verified listings, and that badges will be pinned to listings that have completed the process.

The verified badge means “we are confirming that the space is real, it has an accurate location and the host has access to it,” an Airbnb spokesperson said.

Airbnb said recently that it had 7.7 million active listings at the end of 2023. When Airbnb hits the 1.5 million mark, it will have verified nearly 20% of its listings.

Airbnb, its guests, and rivals, including Booking.com and Vrbo, have had to deal with a long-running problem: Fake listings and scammers. Airbnb’s verification push, which started earlier this year in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the UK and France, is designed to stem that problem and to enhance trust in the platform.

The short-term rental giant said it would kick off the listing verification process in 30 more countries beginning this fall. The process will be protracted: Airbnb has a presence in more than 220 countries and regions.

In 2023, Airbnb said it removed 59,000 fake listings, and blocked an additional 157,000 from going live.

Airbnb Pledged to Verify Listings in 2019

Airbnb first pledged to verify its listings in November 2019. It was a week after a shooting in an Airbnb at a Halloween house party in Orinda, California that killed five people. That verification promise also came at a time when Airbnb was preparing for its IPO, which took place on December 10, 2019.

However, that verification process got cut short by the pandemic, which started in early 2020. Initally, Airbnb’s business almost came to a standstill, and it lost 10% of its hosts that listed a single property in the year after the start of the pandemic.

Airbnb didn’t publicly take up the verification pledge again until fall 2023, when it vowed to begin the process for all of its listings.

Listings Verification Is a Heavy Lift

With listings coming into and off the platform, and their ranks expanding, verifying listings is a complicated and challenging process.

For existing listings, Airbnb combines information it has about past bookings plus host-submitted photos or videos from individual hosts. The process is easier for professional hosts, who have to attest to the accuracy of their listings, and that they are authorized to make such assurances. Account managers are involved in the verification process for property management companies, Airbnb said.

Airbnb stated Monday that for new hosts, it will introduce new tools, including for submitting photos and videos, in the five initial countries where the process is under way to verify properties.

More Icons Coming for Top-Rated Listings

In other news, Airbnb said Monday:

  • Listings that fall into the top 25% of listings “based on ratings, reviews and reliability” will get “a unique highlight added to their page.” Those that receive the top 1% of ratings by Airbnb guests will get a trophy icon.
  • Airbnb said properties¬†that received the Guest Favorites designation, launched in November, have been booked 13.5 million times. Almost 95% received a 5-star rating (out of 5) from guests, and the average guest rating for Guest Favorites listings was 4.92. In January 2023, the average guest ratings for all Airbnb listings was 4.82, according to a Skift Research report that cited data from AirDNA and Bernstein.
  • Airbnb said that in the fourth quarter of 2023, it reduced hosts cancellations 36% year-over-year. Airbnb deleted 100,00 listings based on a host-quality system geared to get rid of those that provide an inadequate guest experience.
  • Starting this month, hosts in the U.S. and Canada will get the ability to install Schlage smart locks tied to their Airbnb accounts that trigger unique codes for each reservation.¬†
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Tags: airbnb, booking.com, cancellations, fake listings, future of lodging, guest favorites, listings, online travel, online travel newsletter, schlage, smart locks, sponsored listings, vrbo

Photo credit: A vacation rental in Riverside, New York that was offered on Airbnb. Source: Skift/Dennis Schaal

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