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AirBnB wants to cancel your halloween party: here's how

It's gonna use AI to do it

Halloween decorations and fairy lights in front of house

With Halloween around the corner, you might be planning a big all-out get-together this year. Well, let’s hope the party you’re planning isn’t set to take place at an Airbnb. In recent years, the company has used artificial intelligence to stop as many Halloween parties as possible.

But why are they doing this, and how does AI play a role in cracking down on these Airbnb Halloween parties? Let’s get into it.

In 2020, Airbnb announced a temporary ban on all parties and events in listings globally. They said then that they believed the neighbourhoods and communities they operate in were just as important to them as the Hosts and guests using the app.

Before then, Hosts were allowed to use their best judgement to authorise parties when they wanted. But it wasn’t long before Airbnb installed a rule in 2019 prohibiting “open-invite” parties. They also banned something called “chronic party houses”: a term they say describes bookings which develop into neighbourhood nuisances.

Then the pandemic hit, and with bars and clubs closed or limited, there was a sudden uptick in house parties — including at Airbnbs. And so, Airbnb moved to ban all parties at their locations temporarily. Even so, 6,600 guests got suspended in the first year for violating the party ban.

Jump to 2022, and the temporary ban they put in place during the pandemic worked so well that Airbnb decided to keep it forever. They’ve said the policy led to a 40% drop in the rate of unauthorised parties and that hosts, communities, and elected officials favoured the blanket ban.

It’s rare for elected officials to like something Airbnb is doing — they are often critical of their business model.

So, how do you police such a thing? There will always be guests who try to have secret parties and gatherings at the Airbnb rentals. Surely there’s no way to predict these things before they happen?

Well, Airbnb decided to use artificial intelligence to help them out, and it’s in full force over the Halloween period — a popular time for house parties.

The AI-driven anti-party system was deployed across the US and Canada and targeted Halloween weekend bookings. The AI has learned to take steps to identify higher-risk one-night or two-night booking attempts for entire home listings and prevents those bookings from being made.

Their fancy tech looks at hundreds of signals, including the length of the trip, the distance to the listing and the timing of when the booking was requested.

Airbnb’s head of trust and safety said, “While disruptive parties are rare, we want to try to reduce the risk of them even more. Our AI anti-party system is an important tool in helping us to do that, and we’re optimistic it will have a positive impact on our community and neighbourhoods this Halloween.”

Okay, but how serious is this issue, and is the AI working to prevent it?

Well, Airbnb implemented the first version of their anti-party AI system last year, preventing many potential house parties! Approximately 15,000 in California, 11,300 in Florida, and 11,000 in Texas. Globally, the year-over-two-year decrease in party reports was 55%.

Those are quantities only made possible with the use of AI. The number of staff they’d need to check each booking and stop that number of potential parties would be unbelievably high.

This year, Airbnb is taking things up a notch. Ahead of Halloween, the company engaged with law enforcement across the US. They shared information on their measures to deter incidents and support criminal investigations. They even have a dedicated law enforcement portal. There’s also a portal for Airbnb neighbours now and a dedicated 24/7 phone line for them, too.

Heck, Airbnb hosts can even claim a free physical noise sensor for their locations that’ll alert them when a party might be taking place.

So there you have it! Enjoy your Halloween this year. Stay safe, trick or treat, but maybe don’t throw that big party at an Airbnb, or else you’ll receive quite the trick from Airbnb in the form of a lifetime ban—spooky stuff.

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