Skift Take

Airbnb banned one-night stays, but only around Halloween in the U.S. and Canada. An outright ban, as is the policy at Vrbo, would be harder for Airbnb because that would hurt its corporate travel business. Still, house parties are a problem that may keep on creating ugly headlines.

Airbnb and Vrbo are becoming real buzz kills when it comes to house parties — and for good reasons.

Airbnb, which has banned parties, announced Friday that it will prohibit one-night stays in whole homes over Halloween weekend in the U.S. and Canada in a bid to preempt house parties. Private rooms don’t face such a prohibition.

In fact, Airbnb is taking the additional step of canceling existing one-night stays in the two countries for October 30 or October 31, and said it will reimburse guests.

Unlike during the beginning of the pandemic, when Airbnb initially reimbursed guests but provided no compensation to hosts, for the one-night Halloween weekend ban, Airbnb said hosts who had existing bookings that fall into that category would “still receive payment.”

One-night stays are considered a signal of potential house parties. The city of Chicago recently banned one-night stays in all short-term rentals; the ban is slated to go into effect in two weeks.

Vrbo Is Noise-Aware

Expedia’s Vrbo vacation rental unit bans one-night stays globally as a matter of course.

But Vrbo announced Thursday that it reached an exclusive pricing deal for hosts with NoiseAware, which offers noise sensors to monitor decibel levels at the rentals. House parties, of course, are one target of the noise-monitoring service, and are a scourge for hosts and neighborhoods.

After an equipment charge, the annual NoiseAware monitoring price through Vrbo would be $99 per year for an individual owner, down from $199.

Under the same agreement between Vrbo and NoiseAware, managers of multiple properties get a promotional 60 days of overnight noise monitoring, as well as free guest messaging.

This is NoiseAware’s only current pricing deal with an online travel agency, although it has done discounting in the past with Airbnb.

House parties are a business risk for online travel agencies and hosts because loud parties outrage neighbors, can bring property damage, and have even led to shootings.

The risk is acute for Airbnb on the road toward an initial public offering. Airbnb has banned parties, cracked down on them in several cities, and threatened legal action against abusers.

Industry observers frequently say that Airbnb is more prone to house parties than Vrbo because Airbnb may have a younger demographic, and Vrbo has long banned one-night stays.

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Tags: airbnb, alternative accommodations, house parties, short-term rentals, vrbo

Photo credit: A house party at an Airbnb rental in San Francisco on April 23, 2013 for Mesh San Francisco. Airbnb and Vrbo are taking steps to counter house parties

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