January 4, 2021
2020 was a year of staying home, social distancing, and too much of the unexpected. With many bars and nightclubs closed, this has not stopped the surge of illegal gatherings on a smaller scale. Illicit house parties are on the rise and short-term rentals appear to be the venue of choice for these social events, many of which have ended in disaster.
In August 2020, Airbnb announced a Global Party Ban with stricter limits and an occupancy cap of 16 on all rental properties, in an effort to stop unauthorized parties and adhere to COVID-19 protocols. Noise disturbances have always been an issue in the vacation rental industry and have increased substantially since COVID-19. Short-term advocacy groups continue to work closely with policy makers to secure fair regulations and clear guidelines in a time of crisis, and many cities have ordinances in place to fine hosts and homeowners in the event of an illicit gathering.
In a statement about the new Global Party Ban, Airbnb states “some have chosen to take bar and club behavior to homes, sometimes rented through our platform. We think such conduct is incredibly irresponsible—we do not want that type of business, and anyone engaged in or allowing that behavior does not belong on our platform.”
However, neither Airbnb’s Global Party Ban or the risk of a fine seems to deter rebellious party-goers in neighborhoods across the US. For vacation rental managers there are some important steps you can take to protect your home, neighbors, community, and your brand’s reputation.
Being proactive and communicating with your guests throughout the booking process is the first step. Let your guests know with clear house rules that parties and events are not allowed, insist on a signed rental agreement acknowledging your terms, review your inquiries for risky reservations, screen your guests for red flags and keep to a two-night minimum. For the rule breakers that slip through, there’s a simple solution, act smart!
The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technology is transforming and improving the short-term rental experience for guests and homeowners. The Internet of Things refers to any internet-connected objects that transfer data over a wireless network without the help of a human. The evolution of IoT and smart devices has revolutionized property management and operations with gadgets ranging from smart locks and noise sensors to virtual assistants and barking dog alarms. A smart home allows you to control noise, temperature, motion, humidity levels, and air quality (and provide a concierge service) without sacrificing guest privacy.
COVID-19 has changed the way we interact with our guests and with limited guest contact, direct check-in, and smart locks a new norm, controlling guest occupancy has become even harder. Investing in an occupancy sensor is a smart move for property managers to control their guest occupancy and keep a finger on the pulse. Occupancy sensors detect the number of mobile phones (even those not connected) and report issues in real-time without intrusion to your guests.
Party Squasher is Squashing Parties all over the USA
BlueZoo, a technology company based in the Silicon Valley, recently launched Party Squasher Pro, a monitoring solution and the “first occupancy people-counter designed expressly for short-term rental properties”. Party Squasher puts an end to wild parties in your rental homes and is designed for vacation rental property managers with multiple properties to manage and monitor occupancy levels with real-time and historical counts.
“With the release of our external API, property management companies can now track tens, hundreds or even thousands of homes at once and be alerted if there’s an issue at any given property,” says Amanda Mills, the co-founder of Party Squasher. “The device’s estimations will let you know when there’s a crowd, but have enough wiggle room to avoid invading privacy.”
The smart device is quick to install, easy to use, compact, discreet, GDPR compliant (does not store personal data or phone numbers), and with no microphones or cameras it is not intrusive for the guest.
A Simple Solution
It’s a simple DIY solution! Plug the smart device into your WiFi router, download the app, scan the device to connect, choose your home size, set your alert threshold, and let Party Squasher do the rest. The device will count the mobile phones in and around the home and alert you immediately by SMS or email when occupancy levels exceed your settings.
Party Squasher Pro has a web-based dashboard that allows you to connect to your property management system tools, group properties according to risk level and location, and link to your calendar to easily obtain guest information should an issue arise. An easy and affordable option and a powerful tool for vacation rental managers for occupancy control, party prevention and peace of mind.
They’ll be no party rockers having a good time in your vacation rental homes this season!