By Doug Katz – 09/02/2022
You’re an Airbnb host. a guest books a weekend stay and on the surface, everything looks fine. Then you get the call about issues resulting from a party at your property. The party gets broken up, but they trashed your unit and you need to make extensive repairs. Worse yet, you find that there was a fight on the premises and several guests were arrested, one who was armed. In short, your dream of owning short-term rentals has now become a short-term nightmare because of one guest and an unauthorized party. It is a problem that has been an issue for a while, but now Airbnb may have a solution.
For some background, the platform had already banned parties of over 16 people as their existing policy, but other than rules that could be enforced after the fact, this did not necessarily help preventatively. Airbnb also been very proactive such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company was able to cancel a large number of likely parties. Again, however, this is after the fact and, while no party may have taken place, the host loses money of the property does not get rebooked at that time. An ounce of prevention on the tech side allows Airbnb and their hosts to avoid bookings by partiers .
The answer, according to Airbnb, is using profile aspects of the gusts such as time on the platform, proximity to the rental, date and day of rental and reviews, if there are any, to identify people booking for a bacchanalia. This is a use of AI that hosts will likely be able to get behind as the system is already showing results. Airbnb rolled this system out in Australia in fall of 2021 and they saw a 35% drop in unauthorized parties, as well as suspensions of people knowingly trying to break the rules.
I am sure that this will lead to some push back or action from potential guests who inadvertently get blocked from booking, but that would seem to be a minimum based on the criteria for identification of bad actors. Having owned a short-term rental in the past, I can definitely see the benefit. I specifically remember turning some guests away when we got a bad vibe, but tools like this would have been invaluable. I am sure this will also go a long way with local municipalities that have been tepid on short-term rentals specifically due to this risk and the cost of law enforcement and/or first responder assistance if they become necessary.