Jenny Radick was 25-years-old and living in her father’s basement. During the day, she would look after her 2-year-old. At night, she would put her toddler to bed and head to the local restaurant in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania where she would bartend until the early morning hours while her dad babysat. For three years, Jenny lived under her dad’s roof, going from paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet when she knew something had to give.
“I had to figure out the best way to get out of this hole,” Jenny shared by phone. That’s when she borrowed $20,000 from her mom, left to the family in her grandmother’s will, and used it to buy a foreclosed 685-square-foot “shack” near Saylors Lake. She gutted it, renovated and then transformed the shack into a charming Airbnb called The Cozy Cabin.
“Back then we were doing whatever we could to save every penny. Within one year of listing on Airbnb everything was paid for – maxed-out credit cards were paid off and the $20,000 loan from my mom was paid-in-full,“ Jenny said about her experience in 2016. From there, she channeled her entrepreneurial spirit and spent the next five years building a business as a full-time Host on Airbnb. She now has four listings across northeastern Pennsylvania and teaches others in her community how to host, too.
Jenny’s story rings true for many women on Airbnb who list their properties to earn extra income to provide for their families, and in some cases, turn hosting into a career. The Airbnb community is, and always has been, powered by women. We estimate that 55 percent of our 4 million Hosts globally, or more than 2 million Hosts, are women. This makes me proud and motivated to help more women.
The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for all of us, but especially hard for women. We have seen a record-setting departure of women from the workforce. And yet, at the same time, we have seen many women turn to hosting on Airbnb.
We estimate that new women Hosts who have started hosting just one listing on Airbnb since the start of the pandemic have collectively earned more than $600 million since last March. This trend has provided a much-needed financial lifeline for women and their families at a time when the economic burdens and sacrifices have fallen disproportionately on their shoulders.
And this lifeline isn’t limited to Hosts who are sharing their homes. Since we built and launched Online Experiences at the beginning of the pandemic — an idea proposed by our Host community – 51 percent of Online Experience hosts are now women. In a recent Airbnb survey, 35 percent of these women shared that they started their Online Experience to replace lost income from a full-time or part-time job, and 23 percent said it’s their primary source of income.
Airbnb data shows that 84 percent of Hosts start hosting during a time of transition and for many of them it presents financial freedom. Half of all Hosts worldwide tell us they use their Airbnb earnings to stay in their homes. And according to another recent survey, three in 10 US Hosts have used their hosting income to pay their rent or mortgage, one quarter have used it to pay down debts, and 10 percent have used it to pay for healthcare.
But beyond these essential bills, the income Hosts gain through Airbnb can provide the foundation for future dreams. Like Jenny, many Hosts have turned a single listing into a full-time career with multiple homes. Some Hosts use the income to fund their own travel, creative hobbies, philanthropic work, or education.
As the world begins to open up, our Hosts are looking forward to welcoming new travelers from around the world. Jenny shared her enthusiasm while sitting in her newly purchased Airbnb listing, on a 5-acre farm with chickens around her, and the sparkling lights of New York City off in the distance. She’s busy encouraging her friends to start hosting, too. “I see the tidal wave of tourism coming and I’m just standing here trying to ring my bell and alert everyone of the new, fresh possibilities that are coming our way.”
To all the women out there in need of change, if you’re interested in becoming a Host or learning more about hosting, start here: airbnb.com/host. Jenny and I, and the rest of our Host community, would be delighted to welcome you.