One of the most common criticisms about Airbnb is its alleged the discrimination against people of color and other minority customers.
One customer who unfortunately had to undergo such treatment, is entrepreneur Rohan Gilkes. In his post on Medium, Gilkes shared his several attempts to book a cabin in Idaho which all got rejected, except when he finally asked a white friend to do it for him and that got approved right away.
Unlike the ones who got treated unfairly before him though, Gilkes did not file a complaint. Instead, he retaliated by creating a black-friendly version of the same service called Noirebnb, a home-sharing site that guarantees to welcome minorities and people of color. He plans to launch the project with his team within the next two months..
In an interview with Fusion, Gilkes revealed that his team plans to involve minorities right from the get go, starting with marketing.
“When you looked on Airbnb, there weren’t many black people on their site as a part of their promotional material,” Gilkes said. “We want all of our users to be reflected in our marketing and our imagery from the jump.”
To discourage users from discriminating against potential renters, he stated that Noirebnb would lock the option to re-list a vacancy once they have marked the dates as closed or unavailable.
The feature to immediately re-list a previously closed date is the loophole that has been repeatedly exploited by discriminating AirBnB users to choose who they want to rent their space.
Asked whether the creation of a home-sharing alternative dedicated for minorities is a form of segregation, Gilkes stated that their goal is to simply bring a better overall service to all customers.
“I don’t see this as segregation, because, again, we really want to be a place that is welcoming to everybody. We’re challenging our competitors to be better. They have to make the call as to whether or not they’re comfortable with a significant part of their user base considering an alternative service,” Gilkes concluded.