We usually think about Airbnb, VRBO… as great platforms to escape, change scenery and relax for a few days with friends or family. But in some cases, for property owners and property managers, the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare.
It happens when the lovely house (advertised for up to 10 people) attracts more than 50 “guests” who don’t care about the house, the belongings, or the neighbors.
Not to mention the larger properties with pools and gardens that end up being rented for profitable parties organized for hundreds of people as reported in the Insurance Journal.
In many cases, those undeclared parties will trigger a police visit or even a plaint from City Hall.
The consequences can be significant for owners, and trigger a suspension or a ban from the platforms like highlighted on the Airbnb US tracker. The problem is not exclusive to the American market; 900 rental offers have been delisted from Airbnb France in 2020… It’s a real problem.
So, this year again, between the lift of the travel restrictions, the coming Spring break, and the return of the Summer, this is time for short-term rental owners, property managers, and cities to anticipate potential problems.
And this is where BlueZoo, (originally a start-up called BlueFox) detected a business opportunity.
We met with Frédéric Renard, SVP Worldwide Sales through the French Founders’ network, to introduce us to the solution.
Based on a technology targeted at B-t-B market, and used to measure foot traffic in shopping malls, public spaces… Party Squasher became a great opportunity to address the consumer market.
Basically, it’s a small device with a sensor that is plugged onto the Internet Router. From the app downloaded on a cellphone, the property owner configures the number of expected guests, set-up a reasonable number of devices that should match with the expected number of people.
If the number of detected devices in real-time exceeds the predefined threshold, the owner receives non only a warning on his phone, but an SMS or an email. Up to him, to decide if the number of guests is still acceptable or to jump in.
It’s important to mention that Party Squasher is not collecting any personal information, it only counts the MAC addresses of cellphones, and connected devices without tracking user location. The system is fully GDPR compliant.
Confident about the future, Frédéric Renard highlights that “Going beyond rental owners and property managers, we are participating in a pilot with a city in California that is considering imposing a solution like ours, on more than 1,200 short-term rentals on its boundaries. It is probably the first of a long list of cities that will legislate in order to fight the nuisances induced by these uncontrolled parties. In addition to detecting these parties, the goal is to monitor the number of people in the same space. Cities are fully aware of the danger of large gatherings in this time of Covid. Every opportunity to prevent the spread of the virus is a considered solution”.
Today, the revenue of Party Squasher represents about 20% of the revenue of the company and saw a double-digit increase in 2020.
For an individual installation, the cost of the device plus the app is $250* a year. That is not a large investment compared to an after-party renovation bill estimated at $7000 on average.
If you have a property on a short rental platform and if that sounds like a good idea to invest in a Party Squasher, the product is sold directly on the company website* and on Amazon.