It’s a common misconception that Airbnb is only for millennials. In fact, over 60s are our fastest growing age group, both as hosts and guests. There are now over 400,000 “senior” hosts on Airbnb worldwide and the number of over 60s who have booked as guests grew by 66 percent in the last year. What’s becoming clear is that Airbnb is helping to redefine retirement by providing new ways to earn extra income, overcome loneliness and isolation, and travel the world in a truly local and authentic way.
Over 60 travel: the new nomads
It’s perhaps no surprise that we’re seeing such strong guest growth in this demographic. Seniors are healthier and more mobile than they’ve ever been, while also tending to take more and longer trips than other age groups. Analysis by Bernstein of UK travel data found that over 65s were responsible for most of the growth in travel spending over the last 15 years, and especially in the last five.
The fact that this group is increasingly turning to Airbnb points to a shift away from more traditional forms of travel, like cruises and resorts, to travel that provides greater access to, and belonging in local communities. Michael and Debbie Campbell, the “Senior Nomads,” are a wonderful example of seniors taking a different approach to retirement using Airbnb.
Countries with the highest proportion of over 60s traveling on Airbnb*
1. New Zealand
4. United States
9. United Kingdom
10. South Africa
Multi-generational travel on the rise
New Airbnb data also points to a growing trend of multi-generational family travel where the booking guest is over 60 and traveling with children. In the past year, we’ve seen a 75 percent increase in these kinds of bookings, half of which were made by first-time bookers on Airbnb. Unlike other accommodation options, Airbnb is perfect for this kind of travel with homes offering amenities ideally suited to families: kitchens, shared dining spaces, and individual bedrooms and bathrooms.
Over 60 hosting: an economic lifeline
Airbnb is not just opening up new ways for seniors to travel; it’s also offering an important earning opportunity. As we live longer and need to stretch our savings even further into retirement, Airbnb provides a means to earn extra income through sharing unused space. In 2017, seniors globally earned over $2 billion hosting on Airbnb, welcoming 13.5 million guest arrivals from over 150 countries.
This income helps many seniors cope with the increasing costs of living and health care, as well as helping them stay in their homes by covering housing costs or paying for needed renovations. In the US, according to AARP, the majority of over 60s want to “age in place” by remaining in their current home or neighborhood, but face income challenges in retirement that can make this difficult. A global survey of our hosts found that close to half of those aged 60 and over say that hosting has helped them afford to stay in their homes, and 41 percent say they rely on their Airbnb income to make ends meet.
An opportunity for connection
Hosting can also be a way for retired people to cope with issues around loneliness and isolation. It’s a way to embrace the world from one’s own home. As young people around the world migrate to urban areas, leaving many rural locations increasingly isolated, Airbnb is emerging as a way to attract tourists to these areas, helping to revitalize these communities and provide income and activities for the older people who live there. The Yoshino Cedar House in Japan is an interesting model of this in action.
We also hear from many of our over 60s hosts how Airbnb has helped to bring the world to them, allowing them to meet people of different age groups and cultures and make lasting connections. And these guests benefit from the fact that over 60s are truly beloved hosts on Airbnb, receiving better reviews than any other age group. Last year, 85 percent of reviews of senior hosts were five-star reviews.
Technology can often leave seniors behind, but in our case it’s a platform for empowerment – from seeing the world in a new light and gaining a new lease on life, to welcoming the world to your doorstep and earning extra income. As countries contemplate issues related to aging populations, we will continue to evolve our product to ensure it brings many benefits to this important demographic.