A few months ago, a study conducted by Harvard University found that Airbnb hosts are 16% less likely to book users with "distinctively African-American names.” That statistic, while shocking and horrendous, doesn't even tell the whole story of how pervasive Airbnb's issue of discrimination is. Hearing firsthand accounts about what it’s like to use Airbnb as a person of color exposes the full extent of the problem. Last month, Rohan Gilkes, a Black man originally from Barbados, chronicled his experience trying to book a cabin in Idaho using Airbnb. Gilkes was continually denied rental to a cabin after trying to book it for varying dates. That’s when he decided to conduct an experiment: He asked his white friend to try to book the same cabin. His friend landed it on the first try. Gilkes is one of many people of color who have experienced discrimination while trying to book through Airbnb, but he wasn't going to sit back and just let it happen. As a tech entrepreneur who's launched several successful startups, he used his experience as the starting point for a new business. Innclusive — originally named Noirebnb — is a competitor to Airbnb that strives to make users (all users) feel welcome. When asked in an interview with Fusion how his company differs from competitors, Gilkes said, "It seems really simple, but we actually start with our marketing. For the longest while, when you looked on Airbnb, there weren’t many black people on their site as a part of their promotional material." Gilkes wanted to make sure all types of users were reflected in Innclusive's marketing.
Innclusive also has policies that discourage discrimination. Gilkes told The Root that his service does not permit hosts to relist their property during dates they have previously told users are unavailable. If one person can't book during a given date, no one can. Innclusive hasn't officially launched yet, but will in the next few weeks. For now, interested users can explore the Innclusive website and learn all about its mission — to help you "be yourself wherever you go."