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Black Travelers Say Home-Share Hosts Discriminate, and a Latest Airbnb Report Agrees

Airbnb is the biggest company in the holiday rental industry, but it surely’s not the just one scuffling with discrimination. Vrbo, which is an element of the Expedia Group, has also taken steps to combat prejudice, including educating hosts, creating more diverse and inclusive marketing campaigns, and requiring using words like “plantation” without celebrating slavery. Each listing features a “Report this property” link that permits users to discover issues which are investigated and escalated to Vrbo’s trust and safety team as needed, the corporate said.

“We’ve removed photos and names from profiles, things that previous research has shown can contribute to discriminatory behavior,” said Melanie Fish, head of world public relations for Expedia Group Brands. “We have a full-time trust and safety team that works to eradicate discriminatory behavior and in addition responds when guests and hosts report bad behavior to us.”

Despite this, in April 2021, Dallas and Shirley Smith, who’re black, said they encountered racism once they booked a garage in Montgomery, Alabama for his or her fifty fifth wedding anniversary weekend. Vrbo doesn’t require guests to have a profile picture. When the Smiths arrived and called the host for the access code, he told them they’d to depart – the apartment was rented to another person. Mr. Smith noticed that it seemed to be empty.

“He said, ‘I am unable to rent to you,'” before hanging up, recalls Smith, 80, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture official. The Smiths imagine that when the owner saw they were black, he modified his mind about renting them out. The host couldn’t be contacted for comment.

The Smiths are not any strangers to racism. Traveling within the South within the Sixties, they packed food in shoeboxes and only patronized hotel chains and gas stations that adopted non-discrimination policies. But since then, they’ve barely experienced it on their trips to 54 countries and 50 states.

“It form of took us back 50 years,” said Smith.

The Smiths’ daughter called Vrbo and was told that the corporate would look into the situation and that she should call back on a weekday; didn’t offer to rebook her parents, she said. The Smiths ended their Christmas trip early. They said Vrbo soon refunded them with no explanation or apology.

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