TAMPA (FOX 13) - After an unfortunate incident while attempting to book a room with Airbnb, Tampa entrepreneur Rohan Gilkes decided to make use of his own skills to fix the flaws that he saw in the popular travel lodging site.
While away in Idaho this summer, Gilkes said he tried to book a room on Airbnb, but kept getting rejected no matter what date he put in. Instead of immediately calling Airbnb customer support, Gilkes took matters into his own hands.
"I had one of my friends, who happens to be white, go on and book for the same dates that I was told were not available and they were approved right away,” said Gilkes.
After some careful thought, Gilkes decided to create Innclusive; an Airbnb rival that promotes diversity.
"We're using what we like to call the Uber model,” said Gilkes. “If you request a ride on Uber, the driver does not see your photo or the driver does not see your name, so they would have to accept that person's request just based on all the factors outside of who that person is, not what they look like."
Since launching Innclusive in June, Gilkes says that business is growing fast with over 100,000 properties that customers can rent out all across the world.
In a response to Innclusive, lawsuits and customer complaints, Airbnb issued a statement Thursday in part saying:
Beginning November 1, everyone who uses Airbnb must agree to a stronger, more detailed nondiscrimination policy. We aren’t just asking you to check a box associated with a long legal document. We’re asking everyone to agree to something we’re calling the Airbnb Community Commitment, which says:
We believe that no matter who you are, where you are from, or where you travel, you should be able to belong in the Airbnb community. By joining this community, you commit to treat all fellow members of this community, regardless of race, religion, national origin, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, with respect, and without judgment or bias.
Gilkes says that Airbnb is taking a step in the right direction, but it isn’t enough.
"If you continue to use photos and names as a deciding factor, it will insert bias, and there will be problems on the platform still, so I don't think it goes far enough,” said Gilkes.
Gilkes is preparing to fully launch Innclusive by next month. For now though, the site is still accepting people who are interested in putting their home or rooms up for rent.