Vrbo has changed its stance on people making reservations in the Washington, DC area during the week of the inauguration. The company announced on January 19th, the day before the event, that it will block any new reservations through Friday, January 22nd. Vrbo previously stated it was evaluating new bookings and that it would “take appropriate action in coordination with law enforcement” if necessary.
The news was tweeted by Expedia Group (which owns Vrbo) and from the official Vrbo Twitter account. It comes in light of DC officials encouraging people to stay home and participate in the inauguration virtually.
The company has slowly been changing its policies around inauguration rentals, after Buzzfeed News reported that residents are concerned about extremists using the service to stay in DC. Vrbo says in a blog that it’s “encouraging hosts to cancel bookings” if they believe that the person is there to commit violence, but it’s not blanket-canceling existing reservations. The company does say it’s “re-vetting [them], to help ensure public safety,” but today’s news doesn’t change what Vrbo is doing about people who have already booked.
In comparison, Airbnb not only blocked new reservations, but it canceled existing ones as well. On January 6th, Vrbo stated that all new reservations would be subject to increased scrutiny and security, but it seems like we’ll just have to trust that those measures were effective, as the new ban seems like it’ll only affect people who are booking last minute.
The home-sharing apps are not the only ones trying to avoid more violence in the nation’s capital ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration: Facebook has shut down events near the White House, and Apple, Google, and Amazon have all worked to remove the distribution of Parler, an app that failed to moderate rioters during the attack on the Capitol building earlier this month.
Update January 20th, 10:02AM ET: Updated to clarify that hosts are encouraged to cancel reservations if they are concerned about violence.