The best illustration of how travel has transformed during the pandemic can be found in the many thousands of towns across the world that have welcomed their first Airbnb guests. Since March 2020, globally, more than 8,100 cities and towns have received their first-ever Airbnb bookings – including over 1,300 in the US1. From Lake View, Maine, to Walnut, Iowa, to Hurley, New Mexico, rural towns across the country and the Hosts who live in them are benefitting from a travel revolution, born from people becoming untethered from offices and having the ability to travel everywhere and stay for weeks, months, or even longer. In fact, Airbnb guests have already planned stays in over 72,000 cities and towns this summer2.
In 2021, domestic nights booked by US guests on Airbnb for stays in rural areas grew 110 percent compared to 2019, while Airbnb Hosts in rural counties in the US earned over $3.5 billion over the year3. These earnings illustrate the incredible opportunity for those considering hosting in rural areas, and with the average time to get a first booking for the majority of new listings being about a week4, now is the perfect time to sign up.
Empowering Rural Hosts
To support local residents in embracing the economic opportunities created by the spread of rural tourism and Hosting, in North Carolina, Airbnb has launched its Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy – a flexible and interactive education program focused on introducing communities to hosting. Last year, the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy worked with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to design and run an Academy for EBCI community members in North Carolina. And earlier this month, the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy partnered with Beaufort County Community College to bring the Academy to rural eastern North Carolina.
This year, we are planning to expand our Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy offerings to several rural communities across the US. Airbnb currently offers numerous academies across multiple countries.
Supporting Rural Communities
Since our founding, the Airbnb platform has helped communities use existing space to scale accommodations and absorb influxes of visitors, all while creating important economic opportunities for Hosts and local small businesses. Over the past two years, Airbnb has worked to help destinations benefit from this travel revolution, by both offering new tools to work with cities and by sharing our singular knowledge of consumer travel trends. To date, we have secured more than 140 partnerships and collaborations with destination marketing organizations around the world, including nearly 40 in the US and Canada.
Just last month, we announced a new, year-long partnership with Visit North Carolina to promote travel to 16 rural counties with a focus on local attractions, unique stays and charming experiences that highlight everything rural counties and small towns in the Tar Heel state have to offer. The goal of the pilot program is to support the state’s post-pandemic recovery and the many unique local shops, restaurants and workers who rely on the local tourism industry.
And today, the New Communities Land Trust – an organization founded in 1969 to provide a safe haven for Black farmers – launched the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail, a collection of extraordinary stays and Experiences on Airbnb throughout Southwest Georgia. Led by co-founder and USDA Equity Commissioner, Shirley Sherrod, the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail’s mission is to support participating farmers in accessing the economic opportunities of local tourism through hosting, while raising social awareness on the history and present-day needs of Black farming communities.
Cultivating Additional Income with Farm Stays
This month, we introduced a new way to search designed around Airbnb Categories, making it easy to discover millions of unique homes you never knew existed in places you may have never known to exist – helping to spread tourism outside of typical destinations.
One category that has been growing alongside rural travel is farm stays – our fourth largest category on the site currently with 100,000 homes. Nights booked at farm stays have doubled in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same period in 2019. This demand has resulted in farmers in the US increasingly looking to Airbnb as a way to earn additional income, while providing unique and enriching experiences for their guests.
As of Q4 2021, there were more than 7,000 farm stays that had been booked in the US in 2021, a rise of 40 percent over 20195 and the typical farm stay Host in the US earned an average of over $10,300 in 2021 – providing valuable additional income for this important occupation.
In 2016, Nancy was struggling to figure out what to do with the guest house on her small family farm in Plain City, Ohio, that was previously occupied by her parents. When her daughter, one of her 10 children, suggested she try Airbnb and signed her up, launching the Countryside Private Dwelling on the 13-acre property complete with horses, goats, chickens and ducks.
Six years and more than 800 stays later, Nancy says it’s one of the best decisions she’s ever made, and with a nearly perfect rating (4.98 out of 5), her guests would likely agree with her. Nancy says her favorite part of hosting her farm is watching children discover the magic of nature and animals, saying she’s had parents tell her that their kids asked to return to the farm instead of going to a major theme park. And she says she’s seen an increase in wonder and desire for new experience from her guests during the pandemic.
“People have been hungry for connection – both on a human level and with nature, and I think our farm offers that kind of therapeutic travel that people have been yearning for over the last two years,” said Nancy.
Nancy says she puts the income she earns through hosting on Airbnb back into the farm – it’s helped her with necessary repairs, feed for animals and ongoing maintenance as well as supplementary income.
1 According to internal Airbnb data between March 2020 and March 2022.
2 Cities and towns expected to have guest check-in between June 1 to August 31, 2022, as of April 29, 2022
3According to internal Airbnb data within US rural counties as defined by the US Office of Rural Health Policy
4 Based on internal Airbnb data for new Airbnb listings that were activated and booked in Q1 2022
5 According to internal Airbnb data between Dec. 2019 and Dec. 2021