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How safe is verification?


#1

Is verification (i.e., government ID) really foolproof?

I’m told one has to be 18 to register on Airbnb. A “verified” guest who stayed in November 2017 had been registered since October 2014, with 4 reviews. That made him at least 21. However, he came here directly from a high school! Most students graduate at 17-18 here. I’ve never met someone graduating from high school at 21. It got my curiosity up because he trashed the place.

Last night I got approached by another “verified” prospective guest with an unusual last name, no reviews, a bare bones profile, booking for a third party, a “medical student”. All I could find on either of them was a FB page and a Linked In profile with no photos and no connections. No links to schools, research, activities, etc. Yes, I turned them down.

However, I’m thinking that “verification” isn’t foolproof.

Do you have any thoughts or experiences?

Cheers!


#2

Well that’s against the Airbnb TOS to start off with so …


#3

We have a booking for someone with a fake profile name and no picture. Or I’m assuming it’s fake as the profile is in the name of William Taylor and the guests emailing are called Carole and John. I alerted AirBnB to it who brushed it aside, this has reminded me to check out who the verified ID actually is for…


#4

“Verified” just means it a real telephone number, a valid drivers license, etc. It does NOT necessarily mean that those IDs are being used by legitimate people.

Lack of reviews does NOT mean a potential guest is not a good guest. We always accept first time AirBnb-ers and have never been disappointed.

You have to look at each possible guest on their own basis. Photo, name, reviews if any, ostensible reason for visit, home location, etc.

NEVER! EVER! Accept a third party booking for any reason. Just respond “AirBnb does not allow third party bookings.” and hit the Decline button.

If something doesn’t seem right, don’t accept a Request to Book. This is one reason why I personally require a real photo of each guest, not a cartoon, a pet photo, a silhouette, a back shot, or a woman’s photo for a man’s name. I don’t care what color they are, what their preferences are, etc. But there do have to show me who they are. If they show up and the picture doesn’t match, I WILL decline them on the spot – “dear AirBnb, I’m not comfortable with this guest who’s photo is a 20 year old woman, but a 40 year old man is at the door.”


#5

Hi Kent,

Thank you for thius.

About 40% of my guests have no history on Air. And to your point, in my experience, they’re as likely as the tenured guest to be “good”.

In fact, my evil twin points out that in some cases, they offer an advantage - your review of them can make or break their career on Air.

Air’s “rules” on third party bookings is, like everything else these days, not cast in stone. That’s why I state “no third parties” in my rules.

Really the big issue is the security of verification. It’s the pivotal point in many Instant Bookings.


#6

I would never, ever use Instant Book in any form. It’s the worst idea (host wise) that Air has ever come up with.


#7

So far I haven’t had any verification related issues…About 400 guests. About 350 of those guests have been instant book, a bunch have been first timers. The only issues I’ve had with verification is waiting for someone to verify their ID and the reservation is then pending. But not issues with someone booking and staying that somehow didn’t match up with “verification.”


#8

I had a verified guest calling himself Mr Sponge Cake and lately one who had a name the same as a fictional character from a poem, so i suppose airbnb verification isn’t on the same level as getting White House security clearance. I take into consideration some people don’t want to have a trail of their private stuff online.

If someone is really going to want to conceal their details, they easily will. Waiting for my first McLovin.

Like Ken says, most folks are just fine but does their story check out and do you believe it?. It’s always down to you to protect your asset.


#9

So funny! Sponge cake can come in handy as in this clip from "Curb Your Enthusiasm"


#10

As it is right now, depending on where you live, any additional requirement that you include with your listing make your listing less attractive to the overall crowd.
I’ll explain better: For example, where I live there are presently 10,000 listings in this city alone. That doesn’t include the surrounding area, which probably adds couple of thousands more.
My point being, a lot of hosts, just so they can get a booking don’t ask for anything and settle for anything, which ends up making your listing less favorable.
I’m talking about hosts who don’t ask for any verifications, have instant booking on, have unreasonably low prices, don’t ask for deposit, don’t decline people with bad feedback, and so on; Which here nowadays almost everywhere is doing this.

Unfortunately, unless you can afford to be choosy about your guests, chances are these days you will get 3rd party booking for someone, people breaking the house rules, people acting like carp because they know how desperately you need that 5-star rating, and so on.

I feel like hosts (the good ones), are forced to stretch their limits in order to stay in the game. Verification is almost worthless now. Even if they have their government ID verified, I see people still doing all kinds of nonsense and getting away with it.
I feel like the Airbnb gives considerably more power and value to guests. Hosts who base their life on the Airbnb earnings are now subject to all kinds of unfair treatments. Until Airbnb doesn’t explain better to guests how the rating system works (which isn’t like rating a damn hotel), and stop expecting from hosts only 5-star ratings, this kind of things will continue to happen and there not much we can do about it.

You can follow and expect your guest to follow the rules, sure, but ultimately it all depends on how much do you really want your place to be rented ….

p.s. sorry for the long reply. I hope you catch my drift**


#11

Thanks, everyone, I really appreciate it.

I think it’s safe to say that verification is reasonably safe, but not infallable.

In this case, the Nigerian couple found a way to get verified, but their third party booking and sketchy online footprints were enough for this host to thumbs down.

Cheers!


#12

IB works great for me


#13

Yes, yes, yes yes, YESSSSSS to everything you said!


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