By: Krystle Crossman
Airbnb.com is a website that offers rental properties for vacationers. It is a fantastic alternative to staying in expensive hotels. People who own properties such as apartments, condos, and homes rent out rooms or the entire property to travelers. Most of the time these properties are much cheaper than a hotel and include all of the same amenities. One of the problems that people have been finding however is that they are being declined for bookings left and right. Studies have shown that the possible reason that they are being declined is straight out racism. A Harvard study showed that black travelers are booked at a significantly lower rate than white travelers when they try to book online with a site that shows a photo of the traveler.
Two new websites have popped up that are trying to take the racism out of the booking process all together. One is called Innclusive.com and the other is Noirbnb.com. They were created by Rohan Gilkes, Ronnia Cherry, and Stefan Grant, three black entrepreneurs who had bad experiences with Airbnb while traveling. Gilkes posted his story about how he tried to book a room with Airbnb but was denied while his white friend was approved with no problems even though they were booking with the same information.
These entrepreneurs are not the first to find issues with the rental site. Airbnb has been called out often for having hosts reject black travelers and even use racial slurs against them while responding to booking messages. While this is not indicative of all Airbnb hosts it is still a major issue. The Harvard study that was conducted showed that black travelers were 16% less likely to get a booking than a white traveler.
The new sites have taken the direct racism out of the process as they do not allow photos of the travelers to be shown during the booking process, only after the room has been booked. They also have a policy where the host cannot book a party, cancel after they have seen the traveler’s photo, and then book another person for the room. If they cancel after seeing the photo they are not able to book that room for those dates again. The owners of the sites hope that this will help to reduce the number of people who are rejected for bookings because of their race.