While our two earliest hosts, company co-founders Brian and Joe, may have been recent college graduates who needed extra money to make their rent, 13 years later, millennials are far from being the only members of the Airbnb community. Seniors are not only opening their doors to guests – they are excelling at it as some of our most beloved hosts. As of October 2020, 85 percent of reviews of senior hosts were five-star reviews.
Dan Shaw is a retired plumbing contractor, entrepreneur, pilot, and self-proclaimed “Mayor of Danville”. He and his wife Deborah have spent the last three-and-a-half years happily hosting their four properties on Airbnb. The 30-acre grounds in Geneva, Florida boasts an airplane strip, a pub and a herd of alpacas, among much, much more.
“I started hosting to share what became a quirky art form of creating structures that were not the norm, built from repurposed stuff. I found sharing them gives me a lot of satisfaction,” said Dan. “Hosting has helped channel my retirement years. Airbnb has turned it into a fun and productive time.”
Dan is far from the only senior host who has invested in renovating or restoring their listings. According to a recent Airbnb survey*, half of senior hosts use their earnings to make home improvements. While these improvements may provide a unique experience for guests, like Danville, for many senior hosts they may be vital to ensuring they can stay in their home. Earnings from home sharing can prove essential in funding expensive maintenance projects like relocating a bedroom to the first floor, building wheelchair ramps, installing handrails, or making a bathroom more accessible.
According to the survey, seniors hosts also report using their earnings to pay their rent or mortgage (24%), pay for everyday needs like food or gas (26%) or pay down other debts (24%).
Along with providing new ways for seniors to earn extra income, Airbnb also helps senior hosts remain connected to others – especially as shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in isolation and loneliness, which has had the most profound impact on seniors.
In fact, for many senior hosts, their favorite part of home sharing is surprising and delighting their guests.
Dianne Donohue in Victoria, Canada channeled her experience of competing around the world in dragon boating and outrigger canoeing into her listing: “I decided if I could be the best in the world many times over, then I could also be the best Airbnb in the world.”
“I bought the best linens I could find, the best organic shampoo, conditioner and body wash – and even simple things, like ear plugs and slippers. The last things I invested in are fans that have sounds for white noise. And I want people to feel they have come home, so I provide fresh-baked brownies for every new guest. Hosting is so rewarding and affirming, and I find there is so much joy for me to give and receive.”
Dianne, Airbnb Superhost
And on top of that, Dianne was even able to use some of her earnings to ship a Volkswagen bus to Europe where she traveled for five months – visiting many of the guests she has hosted over the years.
*Survey conducted by Airbnb of 2,600 US hosts with at least one active listing and one booking in the past 12 months, conducted September 16-24, 2020