Airbnb rolling out ‘anti-party’ technology in Canada and U.S.

Booking a Cottage Rental Photo by Shutterstock/Daniel Krason

Airbnb has introduced new technology designed to prevent parties at vacation and cottage rentals in Canada and the U.S.

According to the San Francisco-based booking company, its “anti-party technology” is a more robust version of its under-25 system, launched in North America in 2020. The new technology analyzes guests’ profiles and booking information, determining whether the individual poses a high-risk reservation. Some of the factors the system uses to assess include reviews of the guest, length of time the guest has been on Airbnb, length of the trip, distance to the listing, and whether the booking is happening on a weekend or weekday.

“The primary objective is attempting to reduce the ability of bad actors to throw unauthorized parties which negatively impact our hosts, neighbours, and the communities we serve,” Airbnb said in a statement.

In August 2020, Airbnb temporarily banned all parties from its rentals. The ban came in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With bars and clubs closed, people were instead renting homes to throw parties. “This was concerning to us due to both the disruptive nature of unauthorized parties and the risk of such gatherings spreading the virus,” Airbnb said in a statement.

Since implementing the temporary ban, Airbnb said it’s seen a 44 per cent year-over-year drop in the rate of party reports. In June 2022, the company made the party ban permanent. The ban caps properties at 16 people, except in the case of rentals that can comfortably house over 16, such as castles in Europe or vineyards in the U.S.

Yet even with the ban, Airbnb has still struggled to police parties. In 2021, 6,600 users were suspended from Airbnb for attempting to violate the company’s party ban. In April, at an Airbnb party organized at a Pittsburgh rental, a shooter killed two teens and injured several others. Last October, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais, a municipality in Quebec, temporarily banned Airbnb rentals after a party attracted 500 people.

Airbnb, however, is optimistic about its new technology, which has been piloted in Australia since October 2021. “We have seen a 35 per cent 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. We are hoping for similar success as we begin testing this in the U.S. and Canada,” the company said.

Airbnb added that guests who are blocked from booking an entire home by the “anti-party technology” may still be able to book other types of rentals, such as a private room in someone’s home or a hotel.

“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,” Airbnb said.

If there is an Airbnb rental hosting an inappropriate party near you, you can report it to the company’s Neighborhood Support Line.

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