Well I’ve had the first response from what I assume is the Airbnb Plus group, though they didn’t sign it that way, just a name on the email. Here’s what they sent with my reactions in parenthesis. I haven’t crafted a response yet…
Thanks for reaching out to Plus. I am aware that you have also been in contact with my colleagues in customer service and I can only apologise for the delay in reaching your email.
I understand that you are unhappy with the new photos however please note that these professional new photos were taken based on extensive guest feedback. Travellers told us what they want and look for in a listing and the Plus program was created to fulfil these needs and create a new look product that is attractive to guests.
We currently don’t allow for photos outside of those added by the photographer/inspector to be uploaded to the listing. ( But you don’t allow the host to provide input as to what they’d like to highlight) This is because part of the Plus program entails that everything has been inspected and verified and for this reason we cannot accept any external images. (Absolutely agree with the inspection/verification requirement. That’s a major draw for hosts too! But let hosts be involved in at least assisting the photographer with suggestions and helping to pick the best ones - we also have done market research - with our own customers…) We also have a very specific look that we need to adhere to. We understand this can mean some individual flair is lost. However we have found that views for Plus listings increase and nights booked have increased by up to 70% across Plus listings. (This hasn’t seen anything like that at all.)
With this policy in mind please see below comments in response to your email…
Unfortunately, in light of the above policy only the garden photos which were taken by the Plus photographer can be used. (We have no idea what photographs were taken! We could at least provide some input on those!)
Your arrangement of photos / Room album covers are automatically chosen by the system. (Now this is just silly. I suspect the “automatic” part of the program looks for TVs in the living space as a good first picture. In our unit the TV is on a rolling cart in the media closet that can be moved to any part of the room. But the picture the automatic program chose is this closet, not a beautiful shot of the living area. A real human would have caught this in a second and just switched the order.) Unfortunately the system is not set up in a way to provide alternative processes to the current program at the minute therefore they cannot be changed. (Who’s in charge? The machines or us? Hal, open the pod bay doors, and change the order of the pictures?)
I understand that you would like to change the cover photo as it is of the garden shed and not your actual main listing. In these circumstances I can escalate your case to the photo editing team and see if they are able to accommodate your request. However the new cover photo would have to be one that is plus approved therefore if you’re happy to proceed please send me a screenshot of your preferred Plus image and I can ask our photo editing team to take a look at them. (We don’t have any access to other pictures the photographer took except the few Airbnb chose to send us. The photographer was here for hours - certainly there are more options than the few Airbnb selected for us. We can’t send a “screenshot” of something we don’t have…)
The Plus team is constantly re-evaluating the program requirements and are open to possible changes based on feedback received from hosts. Our requirements around photos and processes may change as the program evolves. If any changes are made to the program requirements we will be sure to let you know however for now we thank you for your patience and willingness to work with the current structure.
Obviously this is going to be a bit of pushing a rock uphill. I’ll certainly respond in a respectful manner, but everyone with concerns should let Airbnb know and ask for the changes they should make. On the other hand, I wonder if programs like Plus are aimed at large professional hosts rather than small hosts like us. They are really moving ahead with corporate hosting and services for businesses. Wonder how long we’ll be second class because the major revenue for Airbnb will be coming from big professional hosts. Doesn’t sound like Chesny’s vision…