On June 22nd the moment of truth for AirBNB – and indeed many other AirBNB clones like Wimdu and Couchsurfer – arrived when a host let out her apartment while she was away on a business trip and returned a week later to find the whole place had been gutted from floor to ceiling. Nothing was left untouched and the host wrote a despairing blog post about her experiences as an AirBNB host.

At first, AirBNB claimed that they were not responsible according the their terms and conditions of listing a website (and Agriya has to agree with them), AirBNB is a facilitator to connect hosts and guests and isn’t responsible for the conduct of the users, it’s entirely up to the host to list their place to stay and they should accept the consequences if anything goes wrong – not to mention that they should probably consider B&B insurance in case anything does go wrong.

Anyway, the media picked up the story and suddenly there are some dark clouds ahead for the 2011 tech star which has spawned so many AirBNB clones already. The company backtracked and released a PR campaign on TechCrunch to defend and explain what actions they are taking.

Of course, Agriya is pleased to see that AirBNB is taking pro-active steps to ensure the safety of their guests and hosts, so we thought we’d take a look at the security measures AirBNB are taking compared to the personal security measures already built in to Burrow.

1. Private messaging that lets users learn about each other prior to booking, without revealing private information

The internal messaging system built in to Burrow allows users to communicate with each other in order to enquire about a property or get more details about the guest before they come to stay. The user can flag messages as spam or report inappropriate comments to the site admin.

Burrow private messaging

Users can contact each other via the site

2. Reservation system that allows hosts to accept or decline guests, giving them complete control over who books their space

Just because a guest makes a booking doesn’t mean the host has to accept it if they are not comfortable with it (providing it’s not an hour before the person is due to arrive of course!). The host has full control over whether to accept a booking or not and can reject a guest at the click of a button.

Burrow booking rejection

Hosts have the option to reject guests that have made a booking

3. Transaction-based reviews that help users build trusted online reputations

Every guest and every host that has completed a transaction has the ability to leave an unbiased review about their experiences. The reviews are permanent and independent so other users can make up their own mind whether they want a person to stay or whether the accommodation is going to work out.

Reviews left by guests

Reviews left by guests

Reviews left by guests on a property

Reviews left by guests on a property

4. Secure and reliable payment system that holds payment for 24 hours and facilitates security deposits

Burrow uses PayPal Adaptive Payments to hold the payment for 24 hours after the time of check in so that if there are any problems the money can be returned to the guest without any hassle. If there are no problems then the money is automatically released after 24 hours. This holding period helps to keep the disputes low and protects your users against bad hosts.

At the moment Burrow doesn’t have the security deposit feature but if Agriya’s customers ask for it then it will be added in a future release.

5. Flagging capabilities on every user profile, property listing, and message thread

Burrow may have had the property flagging feature before it was introduced on AirBNB, because it seems to be a recent addition to the AirBNB website. We also have an automated suspicious word detector which will trigger if the guest or host uses any word on the list in their descriptions, messages and reviews.

Users can flag properties

Users can flag any property to alert the site admin

6. Verified, professional photographs of Airbnb listings

Property owners have the option to boost the value of their listing by getting their property verified. As the site admin you can set the fee for this and when the property owner makes the payment you can do whatever type of verification you need such as asking for identification proof or even sending a person to take photos and inspect the property.

properties for verification

Properties that are awaiting verification

7. Algorithms that identify suspicious behavior

Burrow doesn’t have any specific algorithms to detect suspicious behaviour because all our clients have different needs and requirements. Instead we have created a suspicious words filter which you can use to flag user accounts that use the suspicious words in any messages, comments, reviews or descriptions.

We also offer extensive user tracking so you can identify if people are trying to manipulate the rating system or if people from France are listing properties in New York.

suspicious words tracker

Supicious words filter

User tracking in Burrow

Burrow provides extensive user tracking tools

If you haven’t heard the buzz already, Burrow is already helping to connect people around the world, those looking to earn a bit of extra cash from their spare room and those looking to get a cheaper place to stay or a more interesting experience than one provided by the soulless hotels.

Burrow is a fantastic clone script from Agriya which lets you run a global hotel from the comfort of your own bedroom. Find out more about Burrow and take it for a test drive today.