If you’ve got a boozy weekend getaway planned, you might need to rethink your strategy. Airbnb has announced that it’s using “anti-party technology” to enforce the COVID-era house party ban it made permanent in June.
Airbnb appears to be pivoting hard from “synonym for weekend rager” to “fun police” by cracking down on big events using predictive algorithms on its platform to “identify potentially high-risk reservations.”
The anti-party rules, which were initially introduced in August 2020 as a public health measure, were extended earlier in the year indefinitely to combat “chronic house parties” and “build better relationships with communities”.
In a statement at the time, Airbnb said that they had “introduced a number of anti-party measures in recent years to enforce our policy and try, to the best of our ability, to stop both unauthorized parties and chronic party houses”.
“Disruptive parties and events will continue to be prohibited, including open-invite gatherings. ‘Party house’ properties will continue to be strictly prohibited as well”.
The company stated that they suspended 6,600 accounts in 2021 for violating the ‘no parties’ rule as well as removing hosts who routinely offer their homes for “disruptive” events.
Now, they’re doubling down on that approach with the help of technology. In a statement announcing the enhanced tools, Airbnb said:
“We anticipate that this new system will help prevent more bad actors on our platform while having less of a blunt impact on guests who are not trying to throw a party.
“This system looks at factors like history of positive reviews (or lack of positive reviews), length of time the guest has been on Airbnb, length of the trip, distance to the listing, weekend vs. weekday, among many others.
“The primary objective is attempting to reduce the ability of bad actors to throw unauthorized parties which negatively impact our Hosts, neighbors, and the communities we serve.
The company says that the system, which is currently being deployed in the US and Canada, was developed and tested in Australia where it has been in effect since October of last year.
“It’s been very effective,” Airbnb said. “We have seen a 35% drop in incidents of unauthorized parties in the areas of Australia where this pilot has been in effect. We are now ending the pilot phase in Australia and codifying this product nationwide”.
The technology will block reservations from being made by guests the platform deems are intending to throw a party. While they admit that the system is not perfect, they say they will be adapting it to become more effective at targeting “bad actors” while allowing those not trying to throw a party to still book accommodation.
Airbnb has something of a reputation for creating issues with neighbours and this latest change is the most recent in a long line of anti-party policies and measures that they have become increasingly strict about since 2019.
Airbnb has also said that, since the rules came into place, there has been a 44% drop in the number of party reports. Instead of wild gatherings, the company appears to be focusing instead on more refined events. Larger homes, they write, that can comfortably accommodate more than 16 people will still be allowed to host “multi-generational family trips and larger groups.”
Can You Still Party in an Airbnb?
Officially, no. Although the definition of ‘party’ is somewhat subjective. If you’re planning an all-night rager, you could find yourself blocked by the system. If it’s more of a weekend getaway with friends and a few bottles of wine, it’s probably best to check in with the host and lay out your plans beforehand.
In 2021, when the policy that Airbnb has now made permanent came into effect, the rules stated that “all disruptive parties and events are prohibited, regardless of size”.
The focus here appears to be on properties that are “causing a disturbance — whether that’s excessive noise, a disruptive party, a gathering of more than 16 people, or unsafe behaviour.” Provided your group doesn’t fall into “disturbance” territory, or your guest list is below 16, you might be okay.
Airbnb lists traditional hospitality venues alongside private homes and has said that “Traditional hospitality Hosts can allow appropriate events at their own discretion”. So, if you book a winery or some other more formal events space, you should be okay.
However, because of the crackdown, hosts are likely to be a little more cagey about parties and events as they won’t want their property being de-listed. Again, it’s worth being upfront with your host about what you’ve got planned and they’ll let you know whether or not the space can accommodate you.