Vrbo is Checking Up on Renters To Solve a Big Problem

If you live next door to a Vrbo rental property, this policy may affect you.

Vrbo is Checking Up on Renters To Solve a Big Problem

If you live next door to a Vrbo rental property, this policy may affect you.

In the days before the internet, booking a place to stay on your vacation didn't offer the vast number of options we have available to us today. The most common place to stay was a hotel or a resort, often booked through a travel agent. Through the late 80s and early 90s, the internet came to be, and early pioneers found ways to apply this worldwide information center to virtually every business in the world, including travel.

Expedia Group  (EXPE) - Get Free Report home and resort rental service Vrbo was one of those early pioneer companies. "Vacation Rental by Owner," as it was originally named, began in 1995 as a website for owners and vacation rental properties to advertise their listings. Between then and now, the company came under the stewardship of the Expedia Group and has since become its primary global alternative accommodations brand. 

In 2008, Vrbo's main competitor Airbnb  (ABNB) - Get Free Report came on the scene, centering the rental process around single rooms for the traveler on a budget. Each service offers different perks and features for both hosts and renters. But whether you're looking for a snowcapped cabin near your favorite ski spot or just a roof and a bed to crash in, both Vrbo and Airbnb have explicit rules against unauthorized guests.


Party Time is Over Thanks to Vrbo Tech

If you've ever hosted a gathering for a large group of friends, you know that cleanup can be a hassle. Maybe you've even joked that "next time, the party can be at someone else's house." And that certainly seems to be a common sentiment, because both Vrbo and Airbnb have had to enact policies to protect hosts (and neighbors) from guests using their rentals to host parties.

The problem went from costly to dangerous during the 2020 covid19 pandemic when some guests were reportedly renting out homes on Airbnb to host gatherings of large people, which was highly discouraged by the Center for Disease Control. Airbnb enacted a temporary ban on parties that would become permanent as of June 2022. A part of the new policy's features included technology using in-app booking data to ban high-risk guests from certain listings. 

What's Your 'Risk Score'?

Renters are assigned a risk score based on the "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, and weekday of first booked night," Vrbo said in a press release.

They hastened to add that "Guests' demographic information is not considered, and Vrbo does not share personally identifiable information."

The technology was tested in Phoenix, Ariz. over the past year. The company said it helped prevent over 500 "unauthorized event bookings in the U.S. — saving Vrbo hosts roughly $2.5 million in party-related damages."

The system doesn't cancel problematic bookings. Instead, it alerts the rental host, allowing them to decided whether to cancel the booking. The booking guests are also sent a alert reminding them of the company's "policies against disruptive gatherings and similar nuisances."

The company said on average 0.25% of bookings have resulted in a nuisance complaint.

Airbnb rolled out a similar technology last year.

Vrbo, Airbnb, & the Future of Travel

Both Vrbo and Airbnb have radically transformed the travel industry--and both. have faced criticism for putting the squeeze on many cities' already-strained housing markets. But it appears the popularity of the service is only growing for both hosts and renters. Despite rising prices due to inflation, Expedia Group posted a record-breaking $1 billion in revenue in its third quarter review last November.