Last year, Airbnb announced that they would be cracking down on people using the home-booking platform to host parties. Now, the company has revealed that it will be using artificial intelligence (AI) to back up that decision.
Ahead of Halloween, Airbnb is deploying an “AI-driven anti-party system” that will flag and block booking requests that are deemed high risk of party activity.
The company has been under fire almost since its inception for facilitating the hosting of wild parties that leave the owner’s home in a mess and disrupt neighbours. Since adopting an ‘anti-party’ strategy, the company says that the number of parties reported has dropped by 55%.
Now, with the benefit of AI, they’re hoping to crack down even harder.
“While disruptive parties are rare, we want to try to reduce the risk of them even more,” Naba Banerjee, Head of Trust and Safety at Airbnb, has said in a statement.
“Our AI anti-party system is an important tool in helping us to do that, and we’re optimistic it will have a positive impact for our community and neighbourhoods this Halloween.”
The system, which is now operating worldwide after first being trialled in the US and Canada, automatically weeds out bookings that fit particular patterns. When trying to make a booking, Airbnb will assess how recently your account was created, how long you’re making the booking for, when you’re booking, and where you live.
It’s thought that people booking a stay for one or two nights during festive periods like Halloween and New Year’s Eve, particularly if they live in the same city as the host home, will be more likely to be blocked.
If a booking is blocked, Banerjee has said that the person trying to secure it will be directed to the websites of nearby hotels instead.
The latest move is just one of the ways that Airbnb plans to use AI. Although the company has made limited announcements as of yet, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has said that by May, “you’re going to see a whole new Airbnb. AI’s going to be at the centre of it”.
In an interview, Chesky noted that customer service and the interface of their app would be obvious starting points to overhaul using AI.
“I really want to wait to ship something, do the Apple approach – don’t be first, just be best,” he said.
Of course, parties aren’t the only thing that Airbnb cops flak for. The Californian short-term rental platform has been targeted by politicians and commentators for exacerbating the housing crisis. In September, Victoria announced it would be hitting Airbnb and similar companies with increased taxes designed to narrow their market share.
With AI now being infused into the gig economy business model, it’s clear that this won’t be the last government intervention into the practices of these companies. Whether governments will wait so long to intervene next time remains to be seen.