Airbnb has stated that it will ban so-called party houses, after a tragic shooting incident in California resulted in five fatalities. Three people were killed at the house in the city of Orinda, near San Francisco, while two other attendees later died in hospital.
The house had been secured on the Airbnb website under a booking for a small group, but was later publicized on Instagram as the venue for a Halloween party. The party eventually attracted over 100 people, although it was never authorized by the host.
Responding to the tragedy, Airbnb has indicated that it will end the process of creating party houses, and take further steps in order to “combat unauthorized parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduct”.
CEO Brian Chesky conceded that there was room for improvement in the Airbnb operation, posting on Twitter that the company “must do better, and we will. This is unacceptable.”
Everyone involved in the incident in the San Francisco area was aged under 30, and the police have been unable to arrest or even identify any suspects. However, officers confirmed that two firearms were discovered at the house, after the shooting took place.
Chesky confirmed that the site has already made the decision to create a dedicated party house rapid response team, while manual screening of high-risk reservations will also be expanded.
Airbnb has been highly successful in the relatively new sharing economy space, achieving a huge amount of commercial success in a relatively short period of time. And with Airbnb expected to float on the stock exchange in 2020, there is pressure on of the company to improve its processes, and enhance security.
Chesky on Twitter confirmed that Airbnb is “banning ‘party houses’ and we are redoubling our efforts to combat unauthorized parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduct, including conduct that leads to the terrible events we saw in Orinda.”
Gun control debate
The incident will once again open the gun control debate that continues to rage in the United States. In response to the shooting, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, called for Congress to pass gun control legislation.
“This will barely make the news today. That’s how numb we have become to this. Our hearts are aching for the victims and all those affected by this horrific tragedy,” Newsom commented.
Airbnb launched as an online marketplace for arranging and offering lodging in 2008. The website effectively acts as a broker and middleman, receiving commissions from each booking on its website. Airbnb itself is based in San Francisco, making the tragedy more personal for the company.
Having become a huge success story over the last decade, Airbnb generated $2.6 billion of revenue in 2017.