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Airbnb to review 'high risk reservations' following Halloween shooting

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By Reuters
Airbnb to review 'high risk reservations' following Halloween shooting
FILE PHOTO: A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California, U.S., August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gabrielle Lurie   -   Copyright  Gabrielle Lurie(Reuters)

By Joshua Franklin and Ayanti Bera

(Reuters) – Short-term home rental company Airbnb Inc said on Wednesday it will introduce new safety measures in response to a fatal Halloween shooting in California last week, including a 24/7 hot line and review of “high risk reservations.”

Speaking at a conference, Airbnb co-founder and Chief Executive Brian Chesky said the company would make a “significant investment” in the new measures and that it would not have an impact on plans to go public next year.

“We are making the most significant change to our platform to increase the amount of trust in our platform,” Chesky said at The New York Times DealBook Conference.

San Francisco-based Airbnb has already banned “party houses” after the shooting incident last week, where five people were killed at a large Halloween gathering inside a rental home.

Airbnb will now expand manual screening of high-risk reservations from Dec. 15 to identify suspicious reservations and start a verification process for all the listings on its platforms, the company said.

It will also set up a hot line for neighbors of Airbnb properties with concerns, and offer a “guest guarantee” whereby customers can unhappy with a listing can rebook at another property or get a full refund.

Chesky said Airbnb was profitable in 2017 and 2018, and that the company has more money in its coffers than the $3.2 billion that it had raised through fundraising.

Airbnb is leaning toward going public through a direct listing, rather than an initial public offering, Reuters has reported.

In an IPO, shares are sold by a company to raise money. In a direct listing, however, no new shares are sold, rather existing investors are given the opportunity to sell shares.

Asked about how Airbnb was approaching going public through an IPO or a direct listing, Chesky said, “I certainly don’t have any news to make except to say that we also don’t need to raise new money.”

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York and Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Steve Orlofsky)