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Airbnb to test ‘anti-party tech’ to stop disruptive events

As part of ongoing efforts to prevent its listed properties from being booked for raucous blowouts, accommodation site Airbnb on Tuesday announced that it’s piloting new “anti-party technology” designed to automatically flag high-risk reservations.

The pilot comes three years after five people died in a shooting during a house party at an Airbnb property in California. The tragedy dented Airbnb’s reputation, as critics lambasted the company for allowing its properties to be used for large unauthorized events that were at risk of getting out of control.

Since then, Airbnb has made a number of moves to reduce the risk of guests using its listings for what it describes as “disruptive parties and events.” While the company has placed a temporary ban on such gatherings two years ago, they made the ban permanent in June.

Airbnb said this week that, following a successful trial in Australia, where it saw a 35% fall in unauthorized parties at its properties, the new technology is now ready to be tested in the U.S. and Canada.

The system considers 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,” Airbnb said, adding: “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.”

When the technology flags a high-risk reservation, the booking will be prevented from going through. In such a case, the guest will not be able to book an entire home, though they will be able to book a private room in a hotel or home — places where staff or host are more likely to be on site and therefore able to prevent an unauthorized gathering.

The new system is described by Airbnb as a “more robust and sophisticated version” of an existing technology that it deployed in 2020 and that focuses mainly on “guests under the age of 25 without positive reviews who are booking locally.”

The company added that “no system is perfect,” an apparent acknowledgement that some party planners may be able to dodge the safeguards. Still, it’s promising to offer an update on the success — or not — of the current pilot once enough data comes in.

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Trevor Mogg
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