Written by By Stacia Friedman, CNN
Airbnb’s biggest local competitor just got a lot more helpful.
Following a five-year complaint from Airbnb’s European competitor Wimdu, the short-term rental site announced a new safety program for its users.
Dubbed Trust & Safety for All, the program is aimed at allowing residents to share information directly with smaller players such as Wimdu and Oodle, instead of the larger players such as Airbnb and HomeAway.
It’s the first of its kind for the highly fragmented short-term rental sector, Airbnb said, describing it as “a complete safety framework” which “enables every host in every country to work more directly with their peer-to-peer partners.”
According to the company, a majority of Airbnb users share information with their preferred service, with 40% having used HomeAway, 25% using Wimdu, 18% using Oodle and 8% using 8nine. The rest do not use any of the platforms.
Both Airbnb and HomeAway did not respond to repeated requests for comment from CNN.
“The Safety & Governing platform for peer-to-peer sharing is the first to be enabled by the globally accepted AIRB – private member agreements and certificates which guarantee the safety of the shared experience,” wrote Pete Blackshaw, Airbnb’s global head of communications and public policy, in a statement.
Blackshaw continued that “hosts and guests can use the system to share real-time safety information, immediately flag potentially unsafe situations and share with their fellow residents that they need help.”
The pilot program launched Monday in Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.
“Hosts and guests can share real-time safety information, immediately flag potentially unsafe situations and share with their fellow residents that they need help.” – Pete Blackshaw, Airbnb
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Integrating the Service with Travel Tracking
The pilot program comes in the wake of a crackdown on illegal listings, as well as increasing concern over Airbnb’s privacy and security practices.
Users who sign up for the pilot program will be asked to share data with “peer-to-peer matching,” Airbnb said, describing it as a data-sharing solution. When traveling, the report also promises, “Travel Tracker records can then be sent to the long-distance hosts’ trust and safety app so they can log into it and track their guests, and this information can then be matched to the peers they’ve signed up with.”
5 things to know about Airbnb’s privacy policies
The launch of the program follows a backlash against neighbors’ access to neighbors’ private data, but companies doing similar things already use services such as the TripIt app , which automatically searches TripAdvisor, CNet and Expedia to compare prices, tourist accommodations and reviews.
Security and safety measures already available on the platforms include 24-hour local support in case of emergency; coverage for illegal rentals; proof of insurance; insurance payment delays and confirmation of guests’ cancelation (via SMS or email); and dismissal of noise complaints.