BAM Key Details:   

  • VRBO has launched new technology to prevent unauthorized events like party house bookings by generating a risk score, notifying hosts of high-risk bookings, and providing the option of canceling without penalty.
  • During their 12-month pilot phase, Vrbo saved hosts an estimated $2.5 million in party-related damages, as well as disruptions to surrounding neighborhoods.

With the Super Bowl coming to Phoenix, vacation rental property owners in the area are preparing for the massive influx of visitors.

And not a moment too soon, Vrbo announced the nationwide deployment of its new technology that prevents party house bookings and other unauthorized events.

Vrbo’s technology, combined with host education, community initiatives, and preventative policies, has already helped prepare vacation rental hosts and their surrounding communities in advance of major events through its 12-month pilot program.

During that pilot phase—using the Phoenix area, specifically—Vrbo prevented an estimated 500 unauthorized event bookings.

Thanks to its success there, the tech now applies automatically to all Vrbo bookings in the U.S.

So, what does it do?

While Vrbo itself doesn’t cancel any events, its technology can identify potentially disruptive parties before they happen, notify hosts in advance, and enable them to cancel the booking without penalty.

As home to college bowl games, spring training, pro golf tournaments, and this year’s Super Bowl, metro Phoenix is no stranger to hosting major sporting events. These events boost tourism and the local economy but can understandably cause concern among residents. Being a good neighbor in the communities where we operate is essential to maintaining a healthy marketplace. Even though disruptive party houses are rare on Vrbo, addressing them is still a priority. By deploying this new solution and working closely with local hosts, Vrbo is preventing problematic behavior before it starts.

Philip Minardi

Director of Public Affairs at Expedia Group

Vrbo’s technology assesses each booking and generates a “risk score” based on multiple factors, including (but not limited to) the following: 

  • Length of stay
  • Lead time before the stay begins
  • Number of guests who are booking
  • Listing’s number of beds (and variety of other amenities)
  • Weekday of first booked night

Demographic information on the guests is not considered for the risk score, and Vrbo does not share any personally identifiable information.

If Vrbo’s tech gives a booking a high-risk score, it sends an email to the host alerting them to this concern and enabling them to cancel the reservation at no cost.

Prior to booking, potential guests also receive an alert message with Vrbo’s policies against disruptive gatherings and similar public nuisances.

From there, it leaves the decision to cancel entirely to the host or booking party.

Other effective measures

Over the past 12 months, less than 0.25% of all Vrbo weekend bookings across the U.S. led to party-related complaints. 

And while the new technology definitely plays a part in that, credit must also go to policies and programs that were already in place to prevent the improper and disruptive use of Vrbo properties: 

  • Vrbo’s no-tolerance policy for party houses—which identifies and bans from booking any traveler who violates Vrbo’s published house rules and their rental agreement by using a rental property as an unauthorized party house—and any host that knowingly allows this violation.
  • Prevention of same-day bookings and the option for hosts to disable Instant Book for short booking windows, giving them enough time to vet their guests. 
  • Nationwide partnership with NoiseAware—a remote noise-monitoring company that notifies rental hosts of noise violations with real-time updates whenever there is a nuisance problem. 
  • The Stay Neighborly web portal—through which neighbors and local officials can contact Vrbo customer service to report any violations (noise, damage, etc.) by Vrbo property renters and guests. 
  • Vrbo’s partnership with Airbnb to develop the Community Integrity Program—an industry-wide collaboration that allows the sharing of important information about problematic property listings to protect the community and strengthen action against repeat party-house offenders. 
  • A full-time trust and safety team—that continually develops and improves ways to keep bad actors off the Vrbo platform and prevent the abuse of properties (and their surrounding neighborhoods)  

In addition to deploying their new technology, Vrbo has teamed up with the following groups to help educate Vrbo hosts on safe and responsible renting practices and local compliance laws:

The community alliance also created a regulatory resource center to make it easy for local rental property owners to access compliance and permitting guidelines. The center is even hosting a series of virtual and in-person educational events for rental hosts.

Arizonans for Responsible Tourism (AZRT) is excited to collaborate with Vrbo and other industry stakeholders to ensure Arizona hosts have the resources they need to comply with new state laws and local regulations and minimize disruptive occurrences around the big game and other major events.

Linda Curry

President of Arizonans for Responsible Tourism and Vrbo host

Top takeaways for real estate agents

If any of your clients are interested in buying rental properties, share this information to protect them and their future assets from potential damage from renters on the Vrbo and Airbnb platforms. 

Most property owners know and would prefer to avoid the risks involved in having their rentals used as party houses. And most would like to avoid alienating (let alone endangering) the neighbors. 

Share this as well as anything that could help them find responsible long-term renters for their investment properties.