New Airbnb algorithm aims to stop parties

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Following the official ban on parties, Airbnb in the US and Canada has implemented a new algorithm that blocks suspicious bookings before they are reserved.

“For example, if we have an 18-year-old who just joined the platform yesterday and is suddenly trying to book a six-bedroom villa down the road for one night on Halloween,” said Ben Breit, Director of Trust and Safety Communications for Airbnb. “These could be signals screaming that this could be a party.”

A suspicious booking will set off alarm bells and immediately block the reservation before it is even booked.

“This was very effective and much more precise in stopping the bad while allowing the good,” Breit said.

The short-term rental company has seen a 47% year-over-year drop in party reports in Missouri since the temporary policy was implemented in 2020.

The St. Charles City Council recently approved a short-term renter bill that redefines the rules to better regulate the system.

“They don’t want it to be ripped, of course, but yeah, could they lie? I think they could lie,” said Jeff Cox, a St. Peters resident and St. Charles visitor.

Some tourists using Airbnb said they welcomed the new plan.

“We always use Airbnb as long as it’s an extended stay,” said Jo Ann Gerlach, a tourist from St. Charles. “It tends to put off the younger crowd who are more apt to be destructive and throw parties, but overall I’ve never heard those complaints.”

As for St. Louis, legislation addressing their rental rules and cracking down on unruly guest behavior will be discussed this fall once they’re back in session.

The City Security Department spokesman made the following statement about the Airbnb algorithm.

“It’s great that Airbnb is looking at innovative strategies that ensure more safety protocols for visitors. As always, the top priority of the Department of Public Safety is the safety of all of our residents and visitors.”

Breit said the hosts supported the new system.

“We always try to be more specific, but by and large, hosts have really supported these types of tools and systems because they really don’t want parties,” Breit said. “They don’t want property damage, they respect their neighbors and that can really break relationships when there’s a disruptive party.”

Breit said if a user feels they’ve been blocked in error, they can reach out to staff and dispute it, but he’s had few issues so far. New Airbnb algorithm aims to stop parties

Sarah Y. Kim

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