Airbnb announces NYE plan to protect public health

US: Airbnb has announced its plan to strengthen its hosts’ protection against unauthorised house parties and large gatherings over New Year’s Eve, as the world braces itself for further waves of Covid-19 cases.

According to the platform, the approach will be anchored by a two-night minimum in entire home listings for guests without a history of positive reviews in parts of North America, Western Europe and Australia.

As part of the New Year’s Eve strategy, guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb will be prohibited from making one-night reservations in entire home listings and already booked one-night reservations will go ahead as planned. The changes will take effect immediately in the US, Canada, UK, Mexico, Australia, France and Spain, while guests who have a history of positive reviews will not be subject to the restrictions.

Airbnb will be deploying more stringent restrictions for reservations that are deemed to pose a “heightened risk” for parties. The company said it would leverage its technology that restricts “certain local and last-minute bookings by guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb” and also block reservations within an expanded radius.

Guests with successful bookings must attest that they will not throw an unauthorised party and that they will be subject to legal action if they fail to comply with the rules on parties and events. Airbnb will provide guidance to hosts in the relevant countries on how to reduce the likelihood of unauthorised parties and operate a virtual command centre to get ahead of any issues ahead of New Year’s Eve.

In recent months, Airbnb has announced a number of changes to its platform to prioritise safe and responsible travel over the holiday season and to prevent large gatherings that would spread the virus.

In August, the company imposed a global ban on so-called ‘party houses’ at Airbnb listings around the world, including a 16-person occupancy cap in our listings.

Over the Halloween weekend in the USA and Canada, Airbnb prohibited one-night reservations in entire home listings to reduce unauthorised parties. Following what the company called a “successful” initiative, it listened to the US and Canada host community to inform its strategy ahead of the New Year’s Eve festivities.

In addition, Airbnb launched its Frontline stays program for frontline responders and health care workers, introduced an Enhanced Cleaning Protocol to support safer travel and announced a City Portal to help provide cities with a one-stop-shop to access tools.

Airbnb said in a press release: “Our hosts are our partners in this mission – and we have carefully developed this New Year’s Eve initiative informed by their feedback along with a review of our data, systems and tools. We also know that the great majority of guests are respectful of our hosts’ neighbours, and that they treat their hosts’ homes as if they were their own homes.

“We believe this plan will help prevent large gatherings while supporting the type of safe, responsible travel that benefits guests, hosts and the neighbourhoods they call home,” it added.

Meanwhile, Party Squasher, which claims to be a first-of-its-kind “occupancy people-counter”, has launched its own party prevention program to help hosts and property managers protect their short-term rentals from parties, and rolled out its own “Pro” monitoring solution for property management companies.

Bill Evans, CEO of Party Squasher by BlueZoo, appeared on the ShortTermRentalz Trendsetters webinar to discuss the main predictions for the short-term rental industry in 2021, including his thoughts on the Airbnb IPO and how it will intensify the scrutiny on the platform.