Manage episode 290205919 series 1248803
Airbnb is taking another proactive step to prevent house parties over the Fourth of July weekend. It launched a new campaign called “Summer of Responsible Travel” which bans one-night rentals and last-minute bookings for guests who don’t have a history of good reviews.
The July 4th holiday is turning into what many feel is the BIG REOPENING after more than a year of social isolation from the pandemic. Airbnb said in a statement: “We also know that public health and safety experts are still saying mass gathering should not happen.” And that’s why the short-term rental company is introducing the new rules. They are similar to ones that Airbnb implemented for Halloween and New Year’s Eve last year.
Airbnb describes the summer travel initiative as an 8-point plan to help hosts, guests and communities remain safe. At the top of that list of rules is a ban on parties that could spread germs, and could also disturb neighbors. To help with the enforcement of this rule,Airbnb has expanded its community support staff by 50%.
Airbnb already has a global ban on parties, but the special holiday rules help provide hosts with more tools to keep things under control. The ban on one-night reservations for guests without a history of positive reviews will not apply to guests who have good reviews. People who have already booked a one-night reservation will also be able to keep them. Last minute reservations may also trigger more stringent restrictions, especially for people who live near the Airbnb they’d like to rent.
The short-term rental company is also helping superhosts who are worried about parties with discounts on noise monitoring devices. The devices measure decibel levels and can help hosts determine if a party is taking place. These devices can’t be secretly used however. Hosts must disclose their existence on listing pages.
Other parts of the summer travel initiative include a Neighborhood Support Line with more Spanish-speaking monitors, house rules that are displayed more prominently on listing pages, safety tips for guests that are renting pool homes, and fire safety tips for people in fire-prone areas like the West Coast.
Airbnb is also reiterating the need for hosts to continue with COVID-19 Safety Practices. That includes wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and disinfecting rentals with a 5-step cleaning process.
The issue that has probably caused the most short-term rental controversy is the noise issue. Many short-term vacation rentals or STVRs are located in residential neighborhoods where some long-time residents say there are too many loud parties by short-term rental guests. That may or may not be true in any particular neighborhood, but when enough voices are raised in opposition, elected officials are forced to listen.
And now, many city governments are struggling with rules to satisfy both long-term residents and short-term rental hosts. In many cases, the long-term residents are winning that battle, and city governments are completely banning short-term rentals. Unfortunately, that can feel like an injustice to property owners who may need that income, or have been planning for that income as an investment strategy.
The city of La Quinta, near Palm Springs, is one of those cities now wrestling with a decision on short-term rentals. It had implemented a ban on new short-term rental permits because of the pandemic that was supposed to be “temporary.” But now, people opposed to short-term rentals want a permanent ban on new permits to reduce the number of short-term rentals in the city.
That set the stage for a lively debate at a recent City Council meeting, and the Council voted to extend the permit moratorium until June 1st as it tests a new noise monitoring program. It’s a program that involves 25 properties and devices that measure noise levels. If the noise reaches a certain threshold, the property owner is notified and given a chance to address the problem.
Community Resources Analyst, Jaime Torres, told NBC news: “We reached out to three of the biggest vendors in the noise compliance industry. Each of these vendors has a device that helps monitor and track noise and our goal with this is to basically see whether these devices are effective.”
Short-term rental owner, Kristen Perry, is one of the people participating in the test. She says: “So far so good!” She says: “I’ve yet to get an alert, and I have (the devices) at half the recommended setting.”
If this strategy works to keep noise levels at an acceptable level, the devices could become mandatory for La Quinta vacation rentals. The results may also influence a vote on whether or not the ban on any new permits will be lifted.
If you'd like to know more about Airbnb's Summer of Responsible Travel initiative, you'll find a link on the podcast player page for this episode at www.NewsForInvestors.com