[REN #975] Short-Term Rentals: Airbnb Bans One-Night Bookings for Halloween

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Airbnb Halloween Party Ban, Real Estate News for Investors Podcast Episode #975 - Header

If you’re thinking about hosting a Halloween party at the end of the month, you won’t be able to do it at an Airbnb. Airbnb announced a ban on one-night whole house reservations for Halloween weekend. It’s not only a way to keep peace with the hosts and with neighbors, but a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Airbnb says, the Halloween party ban was implemented due to concern about a second wave of the virus. It applies to entire homes in the U.S. and Canada. Reservations that were already made for a one-night Halloween event will be cancelled and deposits refunded.

Risk-Detection Technology

Airbnb is also concerned about two- and three-night reservations over Halloween, so it’s using risk-detection technology to flag suspicious bookings. (1) Signs of party plans might include last minute reservations and guests who reserve homes in the city where they live. Guests without a history of positive reviews may also be candidates for closer scrutiny. That process has already identified and cancelled 9,000 reservations.

Anyone who is successful at making spook-night reservations will be warned that parties are not allowed, and told that violators may be removed from the Airbnb platform. This is all part of a global party ban announced last year, and tighter restrictions announced in August.

Most listings had already banned parties, but small parties like baby showers and birthday parties were historically allowed. The August update capped the number of people at 16.

That risk-detection technology has also been hard at work for months, sniffing out potential violators. Airbnb says, it has blocked 770,000 attempts to reserve homes for large gatherings, outside of Halloween. And it has expanded the use of this technology to the UK, France, and Spain. 

Pandemic Safety Measures

Airbnb also stepped up its ban on parties when the pandemic hit. That’s when it removed the words “event friendly” from its search engine, and the words “parties and events allowed” from listings. While the initial effort to cut down on parties was meant to prevent a neighborhood nuisance, the pandemic quickly expanded that into a matter of safety. Airbnb also implemented new cleaning protocols to sanitize rentals.

There’s been a lot of pushback against Airbnb in recent years by neighbors who feel that the Airbnb culture is ruining their communities. That’s also an important part of Airbnb’s effort to address any problems. The same day it announced a ban on one-night bookings for Halloween weekend, it said it is purging the platform of troublesome hosts and guests.

Purging of Problem Guests & Hosts

Head of hosting, Catherine Powell says that 2 million people checked into an Airbnb every night before the pandemic, and that most of those stays were great for both hosts and guests. (2) But there are always stories of guest stays that fall outside the boundaries of good behavior and quality service.

She says, there has only been a small percentage of poor hosts, but that Airbnb recently removed listings for hosts who are getting too many poor reviews. They may be able to appeal the decision, but the deadline for permanent removal is November 20th.

As for guests, Airbnb says “the vast majority of guests behave in manners that show respect for house rules and for neighbors” but it has suspended or removed almost 100,000 guest accounts for bad behavior in the last year. That includes about 5,000 guests who violated Airbnb’s ban on large parties. Other violations that are not looked upon kindly include too much noise, unauthorized guests and pets, ignoring rules for parking and smoking, and tampering with security devices. 

With Halloween coming up, there’s concern about rule breakers, but Airbnb says it will have trained agents on call all weekend. They will be answering calls from a neighborhood support line and offering any quick assistance that’s needed.

Hellish Listings Celebrates Halloween (Safely)

Although Airbnb is trying to prevent large gatherings on Halloween, it’s promoting a listing in a place called Hell, Michigan. (3) The press release says, “The Mayor of Hell Invites You to the Spookiest Airbnb Stay on Earth.” Host John Cologne claims to be the mayor anyway and is offering to share Hell’s finest Airbnb to hellish guests who want a helluva good time.

The “mayor’s lair” includes red velvet decor, a gothic sitting area, an outdoor fire pit and movie theater, and plenty of fright night decorations. There’s also the Hell Hole Diner for a night out, and one-night reservations on weekends leading up to Halloween.

Links:

(1) Airbnb Bans Parties and Events

(2) Strengthening the Airbnb Community

(3) Reservations in Hell

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