Airbnb has found ways to discourage large gatherings during the holidays

That secret party rager you were hoping to kick off on New Years Eve? Don’t even think about booking it on Airbnb.

The short-term rental site has restricted registrations during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to prevent large gatherings of the kind that health officials are urging people to avoid. This includes a worldwide ban on all parties and events until further notice and a ban on users under the age of 25 reserving entire homes in the areas where they live, a move which a spokesperson says. , resulted in more than 770,000 blocked reservation attempts in the United States and Canada. .

During the Halloween weekend, Airbnb banned overnight bookings at entire homes in an attempt to cut down on the holidays. It is implementing a similar (albeit slightly looser) measure for New Years Eve, prohibiting guests without a history of positive reviews from making overnight reservations for entire homes.

Guests with a history of positive reviews will not be subject to the rule, and those who booked a New Years Eve night before December 3 can also go ahead with their plans.

With strict travel restrictions in place around the world and people increasingly tired of not being able to socialize, many have turned to short-term rental sites to get out of their homes and hang out with friends.

Businesses, as well as city, county and state officials, have sought to curb such gatherings, but it can be difficult. The Los Angeles Police Department has responded to numerous complaints about party houses since the spring, including one in May that saw more than 100 people partying at a property in the Hollywood Hills.

Airbnb, which has a wealth of user data that it uses to analyze and predict customer behavior, has “high-risk detection systems” in place that flag potentially problematic bookings – such as bookings made for large groups – for manual review.

The technology looks at attributes, including how long a user has stayed, if they have a history of positive reviews, the size of the list, and the number of nights in the reservation. The San Francisco-based company said it identified and canceled approximately 9,000 high-risk reservations in the United States and Canada.

In September, Airbnb launched an initiative to prevent travelers from booking accommodation on extremely short notice in their hometown; which led to the blocking of more than 170,000 reservation attempts in the United States and Canada. He also sued guests and party planners, including in Sacramento and Glendora.

Airbnb users who have been barred from booking reservations have expressed frustration on social media.

“I am 2 hours from home in a different state and I need to book a last minute Airbnb and it does not allow me because I risk to party? One hour of support and they can’t ignore it, ”user Michael Fisk tweeted in October. “Tell me to get a hotel – I’m a 4 year old superhost.”

“So Airbnb won’t let me book seats at the last minute even though I have good customer reviews because I’m under 25,” another tweeted in August.

Customers who have booked vacations but wish to opt out due to COVID fears or new closure rules might find the hosts and the company less sympathetic than they expected: Airbnb’s policy on extenuating circumstances does not apply to bookings made after March 14 for COVID- related reasons other than actual illness. The rationale: Once COVID was declared a global pandemic, “its consequences were no longer unintended, including the risk of continued or new travel and movement restrictions,” the company said.

But if an Airbnb host or guest is currently sick with COVID-19, that’s “still covered.”

Airbnb went public this month, with its shares more than doubling when they first started trading in one of the biggest First Day rallies ever. The company, which was founded in 2008, is currently valued at $ 97.5 billion.

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