Your life in their hands: How does 'trust' protect consumers without verified checks?

Over the past few years, Quality in Tourism has been working to raise awareness among accommodation operators and consumers that not all ‘pay to stay’ properties meet the minimum safety standards.

With this in mind, we have been encouraging accommodation operators to take responsibility for their businesses and ultimately protect their customers by ensuring their property has undertaken relevant safety checks and is Safe, Clean and LegalTM.

Following the awful tragedy of the Halloween party shooting at an Airbnb 'party house' last week, Airbnb have now had no choice but to sit up and listen, sadly at the cost of five people's lives. Not long after the incident, Airbnb Chief Executive, Brian Chesky tweeted:

"Airbnb is in the business of trust. We are making the most significant steps in designing trust on our platform since our original design in 2008."  

This “trust” however still doesn’t include basic consumer safety or protection and millions of people on a daily basis are being put at risk based on this promise. 

We are quick to query as to how does 'trust' protect people, especially if there is just an assumption that hosts have the relevant and effective safety equipment plus the adequate insurances in place?

After reading the new policy proposed by Airbnb, we feel it still doesn’t go far enough. For example, relying on technology to highlight potentially suspicious listings or reservations is not a robust system to ensure that consumers are safe going forward. What about checking insurances, gas and electric safety certificates, working smoke and CO2 alarms?

The whole industry needs a standard to follow to ensure the safety of their guests, from an Airbnb to IHG and anything in between should be required to have independent checks on their safety. 

Airbnb have defended their brand by advising that 2 million stays per night pass without incident, but what is it that actually qualifies as an incident? A property with no fire regulations or protection will obviously not report any incidents especially if there is no fire, but what if one breaks out? Then you've got an incident on your hands...which in our opinion feels like one vicious circle.

Here at Quality in Tourism we believe that there is a simple and effective solution. Every property should be physically assessed by a qualified professional and although it sounds like a painstaking task, it needn’t be.

We believe that for a minimal cost, each host should be required to have had their property assessed in order to list it on any platform in order to guarantee customer safety.

Our Safe, Clean and LegalTM assessment scheme has already been adopted by the Short-Term Accommodation Association that works with some booking platforms as well as Destination Management Organisations such as Visit Cornwall and Welcome to Yorkshire.

If you're a host with a property, please get in touch with one of our team to discuss how we can support you in an appropriate solution to protect both you and your consumers.

 

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