"Trust is the key to our community," says Airbnb's Vivek Wagle. "There is no place for anonymity in a trusted community."
And with that, Airbnb announces a move that is likely to ruffle the feathers of some users, while engendering a more serious trust in the service in others. Today, the online service that connects travelers with location renters all across the world is unveiling a heightened verification process which they call Airbnb Verified ID. It will force users to match their online IDs (via Airbnb accounts, Facebook, or LinkedIn) with their offline identities, verifiable with a government-issued ID or some sort of official questionnaire.
"Verified ID provides a connection between the online and offline spaces. Airbnb users can earn a “Verified ID” badge on their profile by providing their online identity (via existing Airbnb reviews, LinkedIn, or Facebook) and matching it to offline ID documentation, such as confirming personal information or scanning a photo ID. The name provided by both channels must match for verification to succeed," says Wagle.
Airbnb is dipping its toes into the new verification, only requiring a random 25% of users to get verified. Users who wish to make last-minute bookings will also be asked to verify their identities. That percentage is likely to increase quickly, as Airbnb says that their end goal is to make all users have a verified ID.
Of course, you may be forced into verifying your account if you want to book certain locations. Hosts can now require that guests are verified.
At Airbnb, hosts can set reservation requirements that they feel comfortable with. Some may choose to only invite guests into their homes who have verified their IDs. If you would like to book with a host who requires their guests to verify their IDs, we’ll prompt you to do so in order to complete the booking process. Any host who requests their guests to verify their ID must also get verified.
If you want to verify your account, you can start the process here. Or, you can simply wait for Airbnb to require it. If Airbnb asks you to do so during a booking, you'll have 12 hours to complete the process.
Airbnb has to know that this is a bold move. For some users, this will be a deal breaker. That's unavoidable from Airbnb's perspective. But there are few online services other the Airbnb where this sort of thing makes sense. I mean, people are hosting and booking homes and apartments with strangers. For a company that has had its share of negative press regarding poor user experiences, this is definitely a strong move to show that they're all about trust and legitimacy.