A recent study from from Harvard Business School concludes that the pandemic generated a 12% reduction in bookings for AirBnb hosts with distinctly Asian names compared to those with distinctly White names. While the pandemic negatively affected all AirBnb hosts, Black and Hispanic hosts did not seem the same drop. In a way, this shouldn’t be surprising, given previous studies that show how names can to enable action based on prejudices and stereotypes.
To deal with the problem, the study’s author suggest eliminating pictures and names of hosts before booking, only making these appear after booking, similar to how guests pictures only appear to hosts after booking. AirBnB is says that it is looking at the study and points out that not all Asian American hosts have distinctly Asian names. AirBnB also points out that the study had a small sample size – looking at 900 hosts in New York City.
The latest version of the working paper, called Scapegoating and Discrimination in Times of Crisis: Evidence from Airbnb, is available here. AirBnB launched Project Lighthouse in 2020 to deal with discrimination.