Positive Aging: Airbnb's Most Popular Hosts
As we all know, a great deal of changes have taken place in the travel industry. Remember the days when affordable overseas group tours (remember the film "If This Is Tuesday It Must Be Belgium") were all the rage? Or the days when only the mega-rich could afford to go on a cruise? For better or worse, those days are over. And as anyone who has ever used Uber will attest, the internet has ushered in a whole new subgenre of travel.
Today I'd like to tell you about some surprising data regarding Airbnb, the internet's international answer to Hilton or Marriott. If you're not familiar with Airbnb, it's an internet company that "connects hosts and guests in 191 countries around the world." In other words, if you want to visit Paris at Christmastime, instead of booking a reservation at, say, the Ritz Carlton or the Georges V, you can visit the Airbnb website, look for accommodations that fit your area of interest, budget and travel dates, and then book a stay at someone's residential offering. The idea is that when you are a paying guest in someone's home, you save money and have a more authentic experience in whatever locale you happen to visit.
Here is the interesting aspect of Airbnb for baby boomers: Worldwide, almost 1 million of its users were over 60 as of 2015, and about 10 percent of its hosts were over 60. Fifty-six percent of these "senior hosts" are retired, and the money they make can be particularly useful if they live on a fixed income. According to the latest figures, the average senior host earns close to $6,000 a year by hosting guests for 60 days of the year.
For most seniors, their home (and its upkeep) has simultaneously become their biggest asset and their biggest liability. Most Airbnb senior hosts have lived in their home for over 16 years, and 68 percent plan to stay in their home as long as possible. When surveyed, 41 percent of them said that hosting guests had helped them afford to stay in their home.
But it's not all about money. Many hosts reported that they enjoyed being hosts, as it allows them to meet new people, and remain physically active and mentally engaged. But here is where it gets really interesting: Seniors have become the fastest-growing demographic of Airbnb hosts in the United States. And two-thirds of those senior hosts are women.
When guests rate their Airbnb experience, senior women appear to provide a much better overall experience. In fact, women who are 60 and older receive a higher percentage of five-star reviews (63 percent) than any other age and gender combination. Since the majority of senior women hosts are empty nesters who host visitors as a way to make ends meet, they are more likely to offer a private room in their home, which may explain their heightened hospitality.
If you could use an extra $6,000 a year, or you'd like to meet new people and help them feel at home in your town, this could be the perfect time to think about the benefits of becoming an Airbnb host.
Marilyn Murray Willison has had a varied career as a six-time nonfiction author, columnist, motivational speaker and journalist in both the U.K. and the U.S. She is the author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir "One Woman, Four Decades, Eight Wishes." She can be reached at www.marilynwillison.com. To find out more about Marilyn and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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