Every few months, social media lights up with a story or viral video about discrimination in home-sharing: A host kicks out a black guest or cancels a gay couple’s booking or doesn’t respond to a Muslim woman’s inquiry.
The dominant brands — Airbnb, Booking.com and VRBO — work quickly to contain the damage. They may ban the host, find new housing for the guests and remind followers of their anti-bias policies.
But a handful of smaller competitors are trying to ease fears of discrimination by catering to specific minority groups, and this alternate approach has carved out a small but thriving piece of the home-sharing market. One executive calls the niche services “digital Green Books,” a reference to the guide that black motorists once used to find welcoming hotels and restaurants.
“There are different segments of people in the world, and we want different things,” said Hadi Shakuur, founder and CEO of Muzbnb, a home-sharing site for Muslims. He said the targeted services came about “because their values weren’t represented on the other sites.”