Airbnb is announcing new guidelines for its Experiences program, including more screening for risky or specialized experiences. Its rules are meant to improve the safety and quality of the program, which supplements Airbnb’s short-term rentals with paid activities like walking tours, scuba diving, and mushroom foraging.
According to a statement, the company aims to make all experiences “100 percent verified,” repeating a promise it previously made for rental listings. It doesn’t explain precisely what verification will entail, but the process includes looking at information from guests. Airbnb is also expanding the list of activities that are considered “technically specialized.” Hosts of technically specialized experiences need to provide proof of permits for the activities, as well as certifications and licenses when applicable. The category already includes activities like helicopter flights and whitewater rafting, and it works with the Adventure Travel Trade Association to create guidelines.
Hosts will soon need to provide proof of permits for outdoor activities near bodies of water, high-altitude hikes, and backcountry skiing among other experiences. They’ll also need to prove they’re getting the required permits for experiences on National Park and US Forest Service lands — in other words, complying with rules that they should already be following. Airbnb says it may also expand the list of “high-risk” activities that are banned from Experiences, which currently include outdoor skydiving, bungee jumping, and ice climbing.
Airbnb said earlier this month that it would expand oversight of its short-term rentals. In that case, the news followed two major pieces of bad press: a Vice report on a major scam operation and a shooting that killed five people at an Airbnb rental. Experiences is a much smaller program, and it hasn’t produced high-profile controversies — but as Airbnb makes clear, it lets guests participate in activities that could be either unpleasant or outright dangerous when done poorly.