PHILADELPHIA — Editor's note: The above video is from April 5.
As more and more people get their COVID-19 vaccinations, many travel experts are anticipating a busy travel summer.
Many travelers are planning to stay in vacation homes, which are considered a safer lodging choice due to the lack of common spaces like lobbies or dining halls.
On Monday, the short-term home rental website Airbnb announced it has launched an eight-point plan "to help hosts, guests and communities they call home stay safer."
The plan, called Airbnb's Summer of Responsible Travel, adds tough new rules to ban parties and prevent events that may disturb neighbors, along with a 50% increase in support staff on call 24 hours a day to help travelers in need.
"The Summer of Responsible Travel plan includes new tools to help travelers and hosts stay healthier, systems to crack down on bad behavior and more help for people if some part of their trip doesn’t go as planned," Airbnb said on its website. "The plan puts public health first, promotes responsible travel, and gives Airbnb Hosts, guests, and neighbors the peace of mind that comes with knowing we’ll work hard to help ensure they have an incredible and positive experience."
Another component of the plan is a block on one-night reservations during the July 4 holiday weekend for home listings in cities like Philadelphia and other listings and throughout the U.S., unless the guests have a history of positive reviews on Airbnb, the company said. This supports Airbnb’s ongoing party ban.
The rest of the eight-point plan states:
1. 4th of July
Effective today, guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb will be prohibited from making one night reservations in entire home listings in the United States during July 4th weekend.
Guests who have a history of positive reviews on Airbnb or who already booked their one-night reservation will not be subject to this restriction.
"As the July 4 weekend approaches, we are deploying more stringent restrictions on one and two-night reservations that may pose heightened risk for parties," Airbnb said. "For example, we will leverage our technology that restricts certain local and last-minute bookings by guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb and also block reservations within an expanded radius."
2. Noise detection devices
For Superhosts concerned about parties, Airbnb said it will be helping to facilitate discounts for noise detection devices from Minut.
"Through research and feedback from our Host community, we have found that this type of technology – which flags if decibel levels reach a certain level – helps with identifying parties and getting ahead of issues, while respecting privacy (as the devices do not record or transmit anything other than actual noise levels)," Airbnb said. "Though this technology is privacy-oriented, we still require Hosts to disclose the presence of these devices on their listing pages in advance of reservations."
3. Neighborhood Support
In 2019, Airbnb announced the launch of the Neighborhood Support Line, a 24/7 US hotline which makes it possible for neighbors to flag issues to trained Airbnb agents in real-time – such as a party in progress, the company said.
"This hotline has helped us enforce our party ban and played a big role in enforcing our policies banning 'party houses' throughout the US in places like Los Angeles, Florida, Texas and more," Airbnb said. "We’ll be elevating the Neighborhood Support Line to additional languages – namely Spanish – so that neighbors for whom English is not their first language can easily get in touch with us with any issues."
4. Health Safety Practices
Airbnb’s COVID-19 Safety Practices – which include wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and, for hosts and their teams, abiding by the company's five-step enhanced cleaning – remains a top priority, Airbnb said.
All hosts and guests are required to commit to the process in order to rent with Airbnb, the company said.
5. Enhanced Community Support
Airbnb said it is in the process of elevating its frontline Community Support staff by over 50 percent "to try and ensure we can provide the best possible service to our Host and guest community as travel demand surges."
This hiring is taking place on a global scale, to support the community throughout the world and maintain 24/7 service, Airbnb said.
6. Amplifying House Rules
Even prior to our global party ban, the great majority of Airbnb hosts took measures to prohibit parties and events in their own listing House Rules, Airbnb said. These House Rules often have other guidelines – such as quiet hours, occupancy limits, rules on pets and smoking, and more.
"Based upon feedback from our hosts, we’ve updated our product to elevate where House Rules appear on our listings pages, as well as on the booking confirmation page and confirmation email guests receive to remind them of their host’s expectations before they arrive," Airbnb said. "This helps communicate those important rules loud and clear while aligning expectations between hosts and guests to try to ensure respectful treatment of properties and neighbors during stays."
7. Pool safety
Many families will want to make the most of Summer and pursue homes with private pools. Airbnb said it will be communicating to its US Hosts pool safety tips from the UPSC’s “Pool Safely” campaign, including guidance about pool fences.
8. Fire safety
Airbnb will be sending important guidance to its hosts in West Coast locations to help them prepare their guests to take necessary precautions to prevent wildfires.
"This plan adds to an extensive list of programs built to prioritize the health and safety of our community during the ongoing pandemic, ranging from the Enhanced Cleaning initiative, Health and Safety Mandate, a forthcoming health and safety attestation, bans on parties and gatherings, crackdowns on party houses, updates to our standards and enforcement, as well as a series of policies and tools to support Hosts and guests with flexibility, bookings and refunds during this challenging period," Airbnb said.