There’s a rental car parked in your neighbor’s driveway. A few days later you spy a young woman you’ve never seen before rolling her suitcase down the sidewalk before getting into a Lyft. There was a couple speaking German at the coffee shop down the street. Your favorite local restaurant seems busier this season.
What’s going on here?
These are the kinds of things you may notice when your neighbor decides to run an AirBNB. People come. People go. People infuse the local economy with their culture and their money.
Your heart beats a little faster.
Why put the neighborhood in this position? Haven't they heard about all of the problems? Why risk harming the charm and delight of our community? How could they be so selfish?
AirBNB and their competitors are huge companies spanning the globe. As local communities discuss what to do with these short-term rentals, more and more people wonder how this industry will change their lives.
I’ve been a Do-It-Yourself innkeeper for over eight years and run a business coaching others on how to host short-term rentals. I keep close tabs on debates in the industry so I can coach clients on how to successfully open and operate their DIY Inn. What I am not reading about is the impact AirBNB has on the lives of hosts.
Below are six reasons your neighbor has decided to run an AirBNB:
To see the world
People from all over the globe use AirBNB and similar interfaces for travel. Hosts meet amazing people when they open their doors to paying guests. Because an AirBNB income isn’t directly tied to an hourly wage, not only does the money coming in from hosting easily fund global excursions, but hosts also have time and new friends to visit when they travel.
To spruce up the house
Running an AirBNB requires hosts to be detail oriented. Having a shabby interior (and exterior!) is bad for business. Guests have choices about where to stay, so it’s imperative to keep everything sparkling clean and stylish. It’s like any business; it takes money to make money. The income jolt provided by running an AirBNB makes that fresh coat of paint and tidy yard possible AND necessary.
To fill the void
Whether the void in their life comes from a kid going off to college, retirement, divorce or death--hosts benefit when paying guests fill empty rooms. On a purely business level, changing a spare room into a money making enterprise creates disposable income to help pay the bills. Chatting with guests over a cup of coffee helps fill other, more emotional voids.
To care for family members
Running an AirBNB is a home-based business. It requires hosts to prepare rooms for guests on a regular basis. While it’s possible to hire a hospitality crew, most hosts do the prep themselves. Why? Because the income generated by running an AirBNB is their stay at home job. Also in that home is often an aging parent, small children or disabled partner.
To be a good neighbor
Even though we’re officially out of the recession, for many of us the scars remain. The short-term rental industry sprang up to help homeowners remain in their homes instead of going into foreclosure. The business side of AirBNB means hosts now have an opportunity to repair that credit score and get a leg up by making a slice of their property their business. Good hosts manage their guests (and their cars, pets, noise levels etc.) so the charming assets of a listing remain intact as the AirBNB flourishes.
So often when we think about unintended consequences, our minds go to the negative. Happily, a lot of surprises hosts experience with AirBNB are typically positive. Many social ills that seem to be on the rise--loneliness, depression, poverty, crime--lose their footing in homes where well run AirBNBs thrive. Padding the pocketbook is an obvious benefit, but simply being connected to other people is the real pay-off. The short-term rental industry brings people together under a roof in a safe, welcoming environment. Cultures blend. People chat. It’s the front porch approach solving the disconnect problem plaguing our local, national and global communities today.