Airbnb’s new policy: why the STR sector should be embracing Gen Z rather than shunning them

Airbnb announced on Friday that in an effort to stop unauthorised house parties, it will introduce measures that will prevent under 25’s from booking a home near where they live if they have less than three positive reviews and are booking it for a short period of time.

We’re not contesting the mission; any attempt to stop an unwanted house party, for neighbours and hosts alike, is to be applauded.

These incidents damage property and worse, the mental and financial health of hosts, they also damage the reputation of the short-term rental industry. We must do all we can to prevent them.

stop parties with vacation rental technology

This new policy, however, is more damaging for the STR sector. It’s discriminatory as labelling under-25’s or Gen Z, as entirely responsible for these acts is wrong. It’s flawed as the troublemakers can simply leave town on a jaunt, re-start their phone to change their IP address and then book the house next door.

The approach is draconian and old school, and even laughable coming from a company that is meant to be surfing the cool-aid wave in preparation for its IPO.

It’s worth pausing for a moment to understand Gen Z, as Airbnb’s policy is firmly directed at them. These guys and gals are born from 1995 to 2010 and are the first true digital natives born in a high-tech world.

For them, the internet has always been in easy reach, they are the first connected, “know-everything” real-time, global but still personalised generation.

They are the first generation (until now) not to notice diversity. And here’s the rub: they are without a doubt, creating a massive socioeconomic and cultural shift. Right now they are creating new waves of expectations and shaping the consumption of all goods and services, from shopping to media. 

They have a direct spending power of $144bn and an indirect spending of $600bn. In 2019, they became the largest global generation and are set to be an incredibly powerful force over the next five decades.

The tragedy of Airbnb’s decision is that this generation is the very generation that is going to deliver the next home-sharing boom.

The next wave of super guests. And I really mean super guests, as everything in their psyche makes the vast majority of them on paper, brilliant guests. Gen Z are eco-friendly, vegan, plastic-free, recyclaholics who focus on community building, flock to awesome products and look for ‘real’ authentic experiences.

They seek security and stability, and unlike millennials who think they are entitled and who need constant feedback, they could swipe before they could speak and seek advice from family and friends rather than google. 

This is not to say they are perfect, but they are certainly not all the party-smashing trash panda’s that Airbnb appears to be making them out to be.

Home-sharing is about inclusiveness, community, experience and so we would finish with two things:

Firstly: there are many better, more sophisticated and advanced tools to prevent parties. Those guilty will hurdle through these measures in no time at all anyway, so simply put –  yes it will make a difference but it won’t solve the problem.

Secondly: this action has a real chance of alienating the very group we should be embracing, advocating and helping given the economic destruction brought on by COVID.

This generation is the future and we recognise it. That’s why any Gen Z user who needs to prove how super a guest (or host) they are, can use Superhog as a trampoline. Oh, and it’s not just for Gen Z, it’s for everyone. As together, everyone achieves more. 

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