Laura’s Letter: What I learned from staying in private rooms
Congratulations to all of you who achieved or maintained your Superhost status in the April assessment! The longer I’ve worked at Airbnb, the more I realize what an incredible accomplishment being a Superhost is. Thanks to all of you for providing wonderful experiences for guests around the world, and for setting the standard for hospitality for Airbnb.
As many of you know, my role at Airbnb is to look after the team that builds products, community, and resources for home hosts like you. When I joined Airbnb last July, one of my top priorities was to quickly immerse myself in the world of hosts and hosting—in particular, to learn more from some of our amazing hosts (and Superhosts!), gather some great tips from them, and bring those back to our host community (and our teams here at Airbnb). There’s nothing quite like firsthand experience, so as part of my journey, I decided to stay in a private room once a week. I have three small children at home, so it was a pretty big commitment, but it ended up being such a delightful experience in some fun and unexpected ways. I’m excited to tell you about what I’ve learned over the past few months.
Getting to meet Superhosts like you was one of the highlights of my recent adventures staying in private rooms. There are more than 161,000 Superhosts who share private rooms on Airbnb—that’s 29% of all Superhosts. And private-room listings are popular with guests, too. In 2018, tens of millions of bookings were in private rooms, which was a significant share of all bookings on Airbnb. Private-room hosts and listings are a really important part of our community.
I had three goals for my private-room stays
- Experience variety (staying at listings with different price points, and different types of hosts: new, Plus, Superhosts, etc.)
- Have personal interactions (I reached out to hosts ahead of time and invited them to chat with me more about their experiences, and share thoughts on how we can help them more)
- Gather learnings (What was my experience as a guest? How can we support hosts more? What is the host doing brilliantly that other hosts can learn from?)
So, what did I learn? Well, the first big takeaway was that we need to do more to help you better set guest expectations (which can help with better reviews). This is something that’s really important for all hosts but absolutely crucial for private-room hosts, many of whom share a bathroom or kitchen with their guests. On our end, I think that starts with categorization. How can we better differentiate different types of listings on Airbnb (need a room in a castle, anyone?), especially as we begin to welcome more bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels alongside homes and rooms? How can we help you make it clear to guests that there are cats in the listing? (I am much more of a dog person than a cat person, but I have to admit that I made friends with many cats during my stays!)
Next, I learned many things about what can make a stay great from a guest’s perspective. I appreciated a lot of different things—clarity on where I could go and what I could use (shampoo? fridge space? through that random unmarked door?) was a big deal. Having some information from the host on who else was going to be in the house was also hugely reassuring. Knowing the hours of the other people in the household was also great so that I could be a respectful guest (I get up early, and always wanted to be thoughtful of not waking up everyone else in the house!).
In fact, many of you have already shared some wonderful tips for hosting a private-room listing in the Community Center. I’d love to continue to hear from you on this subject, and I’d love to learn more about what we can do to help you as private-room hosts succeed.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I was reminded again of what an incredible community of hosts we have. I met one host who started hosting so that she could have more flexibility to support her children with special needs, and another who took a big pay cut to follow their heart and work in the nonprofit sector … hosting helped them have the financial flexibility they needed to make that move. I met one host who has developed extraordinary relationships with her guests (many of whom come back often to visit) and another who started hosting so that she could afford to keep her family’s home while her children went to college. I love that Airbnb is helping people around the world build wonderful connections and support their goals and passions in life.
Congratulations again to those of you who are Superhosts, whether you’re sharing the spare wing of a castle, an entire home, or an extra bedroom in your apartment. I hope to meet you on my next outing. Until then …
… Happy hosting!
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