Opinion: Large parties at vacation rentals can compromise public health. Here’s what Airbnb is doing to stop them.
A new report from Airbnb said guests traveling to Tempe paid $53 a night on average while attending football games at Arizona State University this season, while visitors to Tucson paid on average $59 a night for games at the University of Arizona. (Photo: Chesnot, Getty Images)
Communities throughout Arizona have grappled for months with the many challenges posed by the unrelenting pandemic and its impact on our daily lives.
The Arizona hospitality industry – including hotels and vacation rentals – are providing valuable services to the community, from offering housing for first responders to simply providing an avenue for folks to get out of their homes and travel in a safe and socially distant manner.
However, with nightclubs and bars closed or operating at reduced capacity, a new public health challenge has emerged – large groups taking their parties into hospitality venues such as hotels and vacation rentals. From a 300-person party at a Paradise Valley vacation rental to a party-related shooting at a Phoenix hotel, some continue to ignore the realities of this pandemic and act without regard for their fellow Arizonans.
While I cannot speak for the entire Arizona hospitality industry, I can convey on behalf of Airbnb that we’ve heard from our Arizona host community, neighbors and elected officials, and want to be very clear: we have zero tolerance for this behavior. It is not only irresponsible, but downright dangerous.
What Airbnb is doing to stop parties
We’ve taken a number of steps to address this issue head on. Most recently, we announced a global ban on parties and events at Airbnb listings and capped occupancy at 16 people. To enforce this rule, we’ve implemented steep consequences for hosts or guests who violate it – including bans from our community and even legal action.
In Arizona specifically, we suspended or removed more than 50 listings across 12 cities that received complaints or otherwise violated our policies on parties and events. This action addressed the small minority of hosts who hosted irresponsibly during this public health crisis, and was facilitated in part by neighbors who utilized our 24/7 Neighborhood Support Line to register their concerns.
We take these concerns incredibly seriously and are committed to ensuring their voices translate into action.
Additionally, we restricted some guests under age 25 without a history of positive reviews from booking entire home listings locally. We also prohibited one-night reservations over the Halloween weekend in entire home listings in North America.
While online platforms can implement technology defenses to stop gatherings, this works best with complementing vigilance from people on the ground. There are steps that Arizona’s vacation rental host community and hotel staffers can take to identify parties ahead of time and stop them