Are you willing to do anything to avoid hosting some crazy Airbnb party that could not only destroy your home but also ruin your reputation as a Host with your neighbors? If so, let me tell you about an Airbnb party alert device called Party Squasher.
The internet is full of Airbnb party horror stories.
Like that sweet Calgary couple who had $150,000 of Airbnb party damage done to their home during a drug-induced orgy celebration.
Or this poor London Airbnb Host who got scammed by 200 Airbnb party animals that destroyed his entire apartment complex and where Airbnb botched the investigation, bullied the host and ultimately refused to cover damages.
Over the years, I also got to taste a bit of this medicine myself.
Once upon a time, I was a newbie who thought everybody was nice and honest on Airbnb.
In early 2013, within my first six months as a Host, three young Montrealers pretended to rent my place to relax with friends over the weekend.
So here’s my Airbnb party prevention tip #1:
When Guests from your own city want to rent a place on Airbnb in your own city, this should immediately ring your Airbnb party alert but I was still too naive to see that one coming.
What they omitted to say is that they were actually organizing a last minute 30 people Montreal bachelor party at my place for 3 days.
The booking started on Friday and throughout the day, I started receiving texts from someone I didn’t know asking if the small group could check-in earlier. I told that person they should communicate through the girl who had booked my place and that they should arrive after 4 PM because we were leaving our place in late afternoon to go to the country.
So as usual, we left Montreal for the weekend and I did this Guest’s arrival remotely.
I didn’t hear back from them on Friday night so I assumed everything worked well.
On Saturday morning, we were relaxing after breakfast when my neighbor Veronique, a stay at home mom with three young kids, called me on my cell phone.
Veronique was in charge of helping me to clean up and manage my place when I was away.
She sounded very worried for her family’s safety and told me that there was very suspicious activity at my place.
A bunch of guys who looked high on drugs kept coming in out and out of my home, constantly going in their car that was parked in front of my property to do “we don’t know what”.
It actually looks like they were selling drugs or something.
Also, she told me that the police came in at my place the middle of the night because there was a crazy Airbnb party going on all night long in my backyard with a group that seemed bigger than 30 people.
It was an insane party that lasted until 6 AM and she had barely slept because of that.
I was extremely surprised to hear that my place could fit so many people since I had never hosted such a group myself.
While I was on the phone, my upstairs tenant also started to text me about the same issue.
I hung up and called him urgently.
He told me that at 2 AM, three drunk guys came to knock on their bedroom window located on the upstairs balcony of our duplex, yelling at them with beers in hands.
They also seemed high on something so his girlfriend woke up totally terrified.
My tenant ended up meeting them outside in his pyjama on the balcony, discovering that a huge Airbnb party was taking place in the backyard.
Their interaction didn’t go well and turned into some sort of a fight, which explained why someone had called the police.
I was furious!
How could this situation happen when I was so nice to these local Guests, offering them full access to our lovely home while we were away.
As soon as I hung up, I nervously called Airbnb and ask them what I should do.
They told me that I should call the Guests and that I should show up at their departure to go over our place together.
I should also bring my camera and take pictures of the Airbnb party damage if there was some.
I told Airbnb’s customer service that I wanted to cancel this booking but they advised me not to do so because if I was going to kick these Guests out before the end of the reservation, there was a risk that Airbnb would never pay me for their stay.
This was crazy!
So instead of calling these Guests, I drove to Montreal and knocked on the door of my home hoping to talk to the Airbnb party girl who had booked our place.
Hung over, she opened the door.
I told her I couldn’t believe she had lied to me this way.
She somehow apologized and promised this would not happen again.
I glanced quickly inside and there seem to be only a few people in there. I warned everybody that I would kick them out if they would throw another Airbnb party and that only three people were allowed at all times in my place during the booking.
They all agreed to obey my rules.
I then went to Veronique’s and to my tenant’s place to apologize for my stupid Guest’s unacceptable behavior.
I told them that if such an Airbnb party problem would ever happen again, that they should call me instantly instead of waiting until the next morning.
I then drove back to the country.
A couple days later, on the morning of their departure, I drove back to the city and showed up at 10 AM without warning.
Some stranger opened my home’s door so I asked to speak to the girl who had rented my place.
He told me: “She’s gone”.
I was like: “What?”
I walked in.
My #1 house rule on my listing is to remove your shoes in our home.
My #2 rule is you can’t smoke inside our place.
The house reeked like pot and there were about 6 guys who I’ve never seen of my life who were all “vegging” on our couch all wearing their shoes on our beige carpet.
And there were more people downstairs packing up their suitcases all wearing their dirty shoes in our house.
I was like: “Who the f#ck are these people and where is the girl who booked my place?”
“She left early this morning.”
I pulled my camera out and picked this guy by the shoulder and told him that we needed to tour the house together before he leaves.
And that’s when I discovered the extent of the damages they had done to our place.
We had spent years renovating this house with a lot of love and not much money.
On one weekend, they seemed to have destroyed everything.
Our living room table was torn apart.
They broke my “director’s chair”.
The hardwood floors that I had sanded myself with my family were scratched all over the place.
Some shelves were torn off the walls.
They stained our beige chairs and table with something that looked like black ink.
They scratched several pieces of furniture.
They left scratches and marks all over the walls.
They banged our garbage bins.
They even banged our new stainless steel fridge.
The more I toured our place, the more damage I discovered.
Altogether, there was about $4,000 of Airbnb party damage done to our home. Even worse, they had damaged my Airbnb reputation as a Host with my entire neighborhood, which to me, was priceless.
I kicked them out and immediately called Airbnb.
And that’s what started a 3-month-long battle with Airbnb to try to recuperate the amount needed to fix the place.
I’ll spare you the details, but I almost lost my case because I had no idea how to use the Airbnb Host Guarantee.
That’s how much of a newbie as was.
In the end, Airbnb gave us about $2500 to close the case.
All of this was a costly Airbnb party lesson that could have been avoided in the first place if Airbnb had better educated me as a new Host.
Actually, this event was one of my main motivations to create the AirbnbSecrets online course where, on top of showing you how to maximize your income, I teach you how to use the Airbnb Host Guarantee step-by-step to win your case and where I share my best techniques to avoid Airbnb parties in the first place.
In November 2016, I was at the Airbnb Open in Los Angeles to learn even more important information to share with my AirbnbSecrets community when I ran into an AirbnbSecrets blog reader named Panos. He was at the event with a bunch of other Airbnb entrepreneur Hosts and he invited me to sit down at their table to introduce me to his friends.
And that’s how I met Amanda Mills from Party Squasher (featured in this video):
Amanda is also a Host who had Airbnb party problems, which lead to creating an Airbnb party alert device called Party Squasher.
She offered me to test her new device and to talk about it on my blog if I enjoyed it.
Having been through a traumatic Airbnb party experience myself, I promised we’d keep in touch after the event.
I’ve installed the device at my country home and I gotta say, I’ve been using it for about 5 months now and it is a great product.
Party Squasher is just a small black box that hooks to your internet modem which allows you to count the number of devices that are in your home. The more phones, tablets or computers devices that Party Squasher scans means that the more there are people in your property.
The black box is linked to an app that will text you an Airbnb party alert when it counts more than a certain number of devices at your place (you choose that number manually yourself).
So I thought I would do an interview with Amanda to discuss her Airbnb party prevention device.
Hey Amanda, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. So, I know you are an Airbnb Host and I’m curious to hear the story that lead you to create Party Squasher?
I first listed my property on Airbnb in Silicon Valley in 2012.
Based on my success, I started listing a couple of other places on behalf of my friends and within about a year, we had earned over $100k with five listings.
We thought we were the smartest hosts in the world!!!
But not so fast….
In one of these listings, we had a guest named Kurt who did not follow the house rules. He invited all of his friends and even manufactured meth in our house during his one week stay.
While it felt like unimaginably bad luck at the time, it led me to create a new tool for the sharing economy that we called the Party Squasher.
Sounds like a Breaking Bad story to me. How did you handle this situation?
Kurt was savvy and knew the tricks to avoid forfeiting his $500 deposit…
He had arranged to pay cash to stay another two days, claiming some kind of family emergency and no time to book through the system.
The owner agreed to do this as a one-time exception… and in the rush, she forgot to update me.
I received a frantic phone call from the owner on a Friday afternoon. I was at my best friend’s baby shower!
She said all the windows were left open, the place smelled of fumes, the carpets were destroyed. Her voice was shaking. She suspected that there was a lot of drug activity in the house.
I called Airbnb immediately.
I explained that we had indeed passed the 48-hour timeline and that we had to report incidents (given Kurt’s sneaky trick), but that I still wanted to report it because I didn’t want this guest to do the same thing to anyone else.
Airbnb advised us to file a police report but the owner was nervous to do so because she was worried the house would be condemned due to toxic smells. Airbnb also recommended that I call the guest immediately, which I did.
I called a few times and left messages and drove 1 hour to the property to assess the damage.
When I arrived, the owner pointed out the carpets, smell and I took a few pictures. She also reported that a key was missing. At this point, I spoke to the guest and he promised to reimburse us for carpet cleaning and return the key a few hours later. As you can imagine, the key was not returned, and the next evening (in the middle of the night), Kurt’s people came back to rob our house.
We had some photos of the damage but also had photos of the stolen TV and other electronics.
This time we called the police!
The police reported that while it appeared to be a forced entry, the thief had entered with a key.
Obviously, Kurt never paid for the damage despite repeated requests.
Between having to professionally clean the carpet, buy a new TV, replace bedding doused in propane, repair then replace a washing machine used to wash propane material, etc… the damage tallied over $3000, not including the time and emotional energy wasted!
Airbnb reimbursed us for fair replacement value – and we were back in business, but traumatized by the ordeal.
Crazy. At least, something positive came out of this bad experience. So what were your biggest struggles creating Party Squasher?
After first discovering the technology and meeting Guillaume (BlueFox IO CEO) at a trade show, it was clear that we first had to adapt his retail technology for a home, instead of a store.
This meant we had to develop a new mobile app from scratch.
A key component of the product’s value was getting an SMS alert when the number exceeded their maximum guest count. Working with the CEO, we had to add SMS capability to the app, since this wasn’t yet available yet from BlueFox.io.
Secondly, we wanted Host input so I traveled all the way to the Airbnb Open in Paris to talk to hosts and Airbnb employees there.
I always say I risked my life for Party Squasher.
Obviously, I survived… but it was not planned as part of our launch.
Yes, I was at the Airbnb Open in Paris too during the attack, it was pretty traumatizing. What happened next?
I then quit my tech job to work on Party Squasher full time.
That was a big decision.
After building the prototype we set out to get the product and packaging right.
You have no idea how many iterations we went through trying to make a beautiful logo and mobile app– all with a small team and a limited budget.
But we got to a place where we felt it was ready for the market.
We launched in September 2016.
I actually love your app. It’s simple, yet very well designed and it looks like a high-quality digital product. Congrats on making that on a tight budget! By the way, you probably know that Airbnb has started to endorse products in their Airbnb Host Assist program. Have you tried to get endorsed and if so, how was that process?
Yes, we have.
As with any big company, there is a process where a lot of internal groups check the product for strategic fit as well as functional testing.
Airbnb has been super supportive all along so we are aiming to become part of the Host Assist program eventually and we know that we’ll get there.
Why do you think Hosts need to use Party Squasher?
No Host wants to be surprised by a huge mess or crazy Airbnb party problem that will affect their relationship with their neighbors.
We all know that parties don’t happen every day but even if we do our best to avoid them, they can happen.
In addition to acting as an Airbnb party prevention device, Party Squasher gives you a good indication of how many Guests are in your property.
This information is very useful to get to know when Guests check-in and out, is so helpful for Hosts trying to manage their property remotely.
For Hosts who live on-site or those who rent out small apartments, Party Squasher device may not be a necessity. But Party Squasher is ideal for detached homes. Personally, it gives me a lot of peace of mind to have a little device looking after my home when I’m miles away.
By the way, if you use Party Squasher on different properties, our app also allows you to monitor several homes remotely from one phone.
For anyone who travels while they host, Party Squasher helps you relax and enjoy your trip.
That’s great! At our Stylish Country home listing, I actually use Party Squasher with our August Lock to monitor our Guests remotely. I’ve set up alerts to receive a text message noticing us when there are more than 10 devices in my home. So far so good, I haven’t had to shut down any crazy parties but I really enjoy getting these alerts to be informed while I’m not there. Speaking of parties, do you have a story where it helped stop an illegitimate Airbnb party problem?
Last Thanksgiving, some guests invited some friends over in our three-bedroom home in Silicon Valley. This Airbnb party was not more than fifteen people, but it resulted in almost ten cars and the owner was very upset because he was worried that his neighbors would complain.
I was able to quickly verify that there was a surge in the number of mobile devices in the house and called the guests to see what was happening.
He ended up being honest and was willing to move the cars, so everyone was happy.
Sounds great. Can Hosts make more money using Party Squasher and if so how?
Yes, depending on how you look at it.
If a Host needs to have the place cleaned for same day check-in, and the guests are still there past the check-out time, you can charge the guest a late check-out fee.
I wouldn’t do this if the guests were one hour late, but if it resulted in the cleaning team having to come back a second time, I would definitely use this information via a screen capture to support a late check-out claim against their Airbnb deposit.
Others have suggested that Party Squasher could be used to charge an additional person fee.
I personally don’t recommend using it with this degree of accuracy because it could be that one person had two phones or a phone and a tablet instead of two guests.
But if you are planning on six guests and there are thirty devices showing up in your count, you know something is up and you could send someone on location to verify the exact number of Guests. If there is more people than planned in the reservation, that’s where you could charge an extra.
Got it. Speaking of money, what’s the pricing model of Party Squasher?
The price for the first year is $149 USD and then it’s $99 USD per year after that. Our price includes a free mobile app (iPhone and Android) plus a device that goes in your home to ‘count’ mobile devices.
Sounds affordable to me. How simple is it to install?
Installation is super simple – you just need to be at the home for it.
You plug your Airbnb Party Squasher device to your modem and then finish the setup via our mobile app. You can view real-time data, customize your detection range (depending on house size) and adjust alert preferences all through the mobile app.
You don’t need to constantly watch your mobile app because Party Squasher will send you a text an Airbnb party message alert if the count goes above your limit.
Here’s a short video explaining the installation process:
Do you offer any sort of warranty on this product? If so, how does it work?
We offer a 1-year warranty on our hardware (the box), as well as the software + mobile app. In the event of a return, we’ll cover the cost of the shipping for customers in the US and Canada. We currently don’t offer any kind of a money-back guarantee for Party Squasher. But so far, we’ve not had a single customer ask for their money back!
Now, I hear you got a great offer for the AirbnbSecrets community. What’s your deal? 🙂
We sure do! For a limited time only, you can get Party Squasher for a special one-time subscription fee of 119$ USD one-time fee for life + free shipping (in Canada, USA, France and Australia). People from other countries can still get the deal on the physical device but can contact us to get pricing on shipping.
Are you telling me that whoever gets this unique deal will save hundreds of dollars in subscription fees over the coming years on your device?
Awesome! So how can we access this limited-time offer?
To access this unique $119 USD one-time fee for life + free shipping limited time offer, you just need to enter your email and we will send you a link to the special deal combined with some of our best tips to help avoid any Airbnb party problem in the first place.
Wow. Thanks for this sweet deal Amanda and keep us posted if anything new happens with Party Squasher!
What are you doing to prevent Airbnb parties from happening in your home?