Some under-25s wanting to holiday with their friends or partners will no longer be able to book entire properties on Airbnb, particularly within their neighbourhood or nearby areas.
The company announced today, August 14, that it will begin imposing bans in Spain, Britain as well as France that will see some under 25-years-olds face booking restrictions on entire properties listed on the platform. It comes after the company introduced these restrictions in the US in July and Canada earlier in the year. That’s right, no more Airbnb vacays for many young people looking to spend a holiday with their friends (unless you have what Airbnb considers to be an ‘adult’ with you). That means no cute city escapes or villas in Ibiza.
The restriction itself is still unclear, but reportedly it will be imposed on under-25s who have less than three positive reviews and who are looking to rent entire properties within their own neighbourhood.
The decision came as a surprise, especially as the company has taken a hard hit from the global pandemic—alongside all other travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. It has been reported by AFP that Airbnb’s goals behind this new announcement are to both reduce unauthorised parties—an issue the booking platform has long been struggling with—as well as reducing the spread of COVID-19.
The silicon valley giant began cracking down on unauthorised parties taking place within its listings last year, as the number of complaints had reportedly increased, causing not only damage to properties but also leading to neighbours complaints. It has also been reported that the company is taking legal action against a guest for the first time after three people were shot at an unauthorised party in Sacramento, California, US.
“Reducing the number of unauthorised house parties on Airbnb has always been a priority, and it’s more important now than ever,” Airbnb said in a statement.
The California-based company, which was set to go into IPO earlier this year before the coronavirus pandemic changed the course of 2020, has taken a massive hit over the past few months as travel restrictions and lockdown measures brought the world to a standstill for 5 months, and counting.
In May, it was reported that the company was set to lay off one-quarter of its workforce, coming to some 1,900 employees.
Imagine being on a beautiful lake, surrounded by nothing but glistening water and rich greenery—sounds dreamy, right? This was how I described the beginning of my holiday in Thailand to my friends. But what should have been a relaxing and surreal experience soon became a desperate attempt to get back home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At first, it seemed like my trip was not going to be affected. To me, Thailand had better control of the situation than other countries, until I heard about the travel ban Trump had imposed on Europe. It was a trigger. Suddenly the gravity of the situation hit me. Here’s how COVID-19 impacted my holiday and how I made it home.
Maybe it was the language barrier or just my lack of awareness, but the situation in Thailand didn’t worry me to begin with. Yes, people were wearing masks and going a little crazy with the hand sanitiser—rightly so—but overall, things appeared to be pretty relaxed. This was nothing in comparison to the alarming frenzy that was taking place in the UK. With news of travel restrictions changing daily, my bubble was burst. The panic was setting in and there was no outrunning it. Finally, I started thinking about going home. I was willing to cut my holiday short, but how was I going to get home exactly? My flight had been cancelled, I was left in the dark as to what to do.
With barely any internet available where I was, the situation became unnerving and only increased my many speculations. It was all I could speak about and I had long forgotten the beautiful scenery and the wild animals.
I was stuck in the middle of the jungle and although everyone did their best to play it cool, the worry was written all over their faces. The fact that we might not be able to get home became a real possibility.
It’s such a strange feeling, trying to enjoy and take in everything in front of you but still having this nagging worry at the back of your mind, growing uncontrollable. The anxiety was crushing me and my mental health took a blow.
Eagerly awaiting to leave the jungle in order to establish some sort of connection with the outside world was already a hard task. But my need for some news was crippling. As soon as I connected to a nearby Wi-Fi box, messages from loved ones asking me to give them news from Thailand and news articles flooded my phone.
I had been planning this trip for months and there was much more to see but I had made my decision; I was ready to go back. Yet, still, I somehow expected everything to fall into place. Coming from the UK to Thailand had been so easy, how hard could it be to book a flight back to London?
In order to change the date of my flight back to the UK, I called the airline, which informed me that my flight had been cancelled in anticipation of upcoming travel restrictions. After endless calls with the travel agency, hours and hours of being put on hold, I was left with no answers and decided to try online chats instead.
Airlines and agencies were drowning in panicked requests from tourists trying to get back home. It was chaotic—one agent would say one thing and the other would say the opposite. One told me that there weren’t any available flights before April, while another one told me that I could have one of the last seats for £1,500.
On numerous occasions, I believed that I wouldn’t be leaving Thailand. It was easy to let myself imagine living out there, the weather was amazing, people were friendly and the cost of living was incredibly cheap. If it hadn’t been for my constant checking of the news on my phone, I could have happily stayed right where I was.
I decided to make the 6-hour journey to the airport without knowing what I would do once there.
The airport was crammed with distressed people queueing up at a few help desks. To me, the panic on people’s faces was calming. Knowing that I wasn’t alone in this situation made me feel better. In the end, I took a gamble and booked the first flight back to the UK I could find even though no one knew if it would get cancelled. It didn’t and I made it back home.
As many tourists are still in Thailand while the country is under lockdown, I am grateful to be in my own home. For now, I am still in quarantine but this feels like a small price to pay for safety.