Naba Banerjee, Airbnb
Source: Prashant Joshi | Airbnb
Naba Banerjee is a proud party pooper.
As the person in charge of Airbnb’s worldwide ban on parties, she’s spent more than three years figuring out how to battle party “collusion” by users, flag “repeat party houses” and, most of all, design an anti-party AI system with enough training data to halt high-risk reservations before the offender even gets to the checkout page.
It’s been a bit like a game of whack-a-mole: Whenever Banerjee’s algorithms flag some concerns, new ones pop up.
Airbnb defines a party as a gathering that occurs at an Airbnb listing and “causes significant disruption to neighbors and the surrounding community,” according to a company rep. To determine violations, the company considers whether the gathering is an open-invite one, and whether it involves excessive noise, trash, visitors, parking issues for neighbors, and other factors.
Banerjee joined the company’s trust and safety team in May 2020 and now runs that group. In her short time at the company, she’s overseen a ban on high-risk reservations by users aged 25 and under, an pilot program for anti-party AI in Australia, heightened defenses on holiday weekends, a host insurance policy worth millions of dollars, and this summer, a global rollout of Airbnb’s reservation screening system.
Some measures have worked better than others, but the company says party reports dropped 55% between August 2020 and August 2022 — and since the worldwide launch of Banerjee’s system in May, more than 320,000 guests have been blocked or redirected from booking attempts on Airbnb.
Overall, the company’s business is getting stronger as the post-pandemic travel boom starts to fade. Last month, the company reported earnings that beat analysts’ expectations on earnings per share and revenue, with the latter growing 18% year-over-year, despite fewer-than-expected number of nights and experiences booked via the platform.
Airbnb says the pandemic and hosts’ fears of property damage are the main drivers behind its anti-party push, but there have been darker incidents as well.
A Halloween party at an Airbnb in 2019 left five people dead. This year between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, at least five people were killed at parties hosted at Airbnbs. In June, the company was sued by a family who lost their 18-year-old son in a shooting at a 2021 Airbnb party.
When Banerjee first joined Airbnb’s trust…