The Death of Our Industry?

Existential threats are unpredictable, but our response doesn’t have to be. The dinosaurs probably never saw the meteor coming (and if they did they had no way to respond). Napster saw their meteor (legal and regulatory restrictions) and did nothing as it smashed them into a footnote in musical history. Netflix saw their meteor (online delivery instead of snail mail), made a painful pivot, and then rode their meteor to the promised land and a $200B+ value.

The short-term vacation rental meteor is…COVID-19. How will we respond? Entrenched interests (the hotel industry in particular) and NIMBY(Not-In-My-BackYard) neighbors have long put pressure on authorities to limit or even end our industry. Millions of owners, hosts, and travelers have come to rely on this approach –  Airbnb alone claims more than 2.9 million hosts and over 7 million listings in 2020. The global pandemic and the need to limit large social gatherings has provided fuel to the opponents of short-term rentals.

There are several recommended ways to mitigate the party nuisance, we believe a combination of strategies are most effective:

  • Conduct Guest Screening: no process is perfect, but reasonable guest screening can help filter out those looking for a party pad. 
  • Establish Clear Penalties: make the TOS crystal clear. Your property is designed for a set maximum number of people and your guests should agree not to significantly exceed those numbers. No large gatherings and no large parties. Ensure penalties are clearly explained when they view and book your property.
  • Deploy New Technology: Party Squasher is state-of-the-art, anonymous people counting technology that notifies you when your guests violate thresholds (when they throw a party, for instance). Our approach is quickly becoming a best practice in enforcing limits, and many ‘bad apples’ can be avoided by simply disclosing our deployment.

We can avoid the fates of the dinosaurs and Napster and realize the success of Netflix by responding aggressively to this existential threat. 

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