What the Senior Crowd Needs to Know About Airbnb

Airbnb launched out of San Francisco in 2008. In these few years, it has revolutionized the way that people look for travel accommodations. Today, Airbnb is worth more than $30 billion, and boasts more than 150 million active users, including millions of retirees and seniors.

Put most simply, Airbnb allows homeowners to rent out part or all of their home to guests they meet online. It’s part of a whole new generation of “home sharing” and “vacation rental” services—a category that also includes VRBO and HomeAway.

While home sharing may be particularly trendy among younger travelers, there’s no reason why Boomers can’t get in on the action! Whether you want to use Airbnb as a traveler or a host, here’s what older adults need to know:

For Travelers:

Airbnb and other home sharing options can offer a great opportunity to see a new part of the world, indulge in a staycation, or explore one of the cities on your bucket list. Often, you may be able to find stellar accommodations in a great location for less than the price of a traditional hotel!

So what should older adults keep in mind before booking through Airbnb for the first time? Here are a few points to consider:

Know what you’re getting into

If this is your first time renting a home instead of staying in a hotel, remember that there will be some major differences! For one thing, even the best rental probably won’t have an on-site cleaning service, and your host is likely a busy person with things to do, not a concierge whose sole job is waiting on your beck and call. It’s important to be flexible, and remember that the bed might squeak, the dog next door might bark, and the shower might not have your ideal water pressure.

Bottom line? You’re staying in a real home, quirks and all. Be sure to consider if Airbnb is the right fit for you before you commit to it for your next stay.

Look around for the best deals

Remember, while Airbnb and other home sharing platforms have “disrupted” the hotel industry in a lot of ways, they’re still subject to the laws of supply and demand. With that in mind, remember that you’re probably going to find a better bargain the earlier you start looking, especially if you’re trying to book in a popular destination or during a peak season. And if you don’t see a listing that works for you right away, keep trying! New offerings come on and off the service all the time.

Consider how to get a better rate

Trying to save money? There are a few ways to snag discounts on an Airbnb booking. First and foremost, you can normally get a discount, so don’t forget to look into that option. You may also be able to earn some discounts by referring others to the service over time.

In some cases, you may be able to save a bit by extending your trip, since some hosts offer better rates for longer stays. It is also possible to negotiate some costs with your host, like cleaning or parking fees. In some cases, hosts will be willing to waive or lower these fees if you talk them out before your visit. Finally, remember that you could also split the cost of renting a whole house or cabin by traveling with family or friends as a group.

Don’t be afraid to be choosy

This is your trip, so take some time to make sure it’s going to be a great fit for you! You can use Airbnb’s search filters to exclude or include certain listings, which can be based on everything from price range to available amenities. Because Airbnb options tend to be available all over, you can also really narrow in on your preferred location. Want to book something that’s just a few blocks from that world-class museum? Need to stay close to public transportation? Be sure to poke around for the listing that will really suit your needs!

Oh, and remember to always look at reviews and ratings left by past guests before you book. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your potential hosts to see if they’ll help clear things up.

For Hosts:

Have you ever thought about opening up your own home using the Airbnb platform?

Plenty of older adults have already jumped onboard! In fact, people aged 60 and over make up the fastest growing demographic of Airbnb hosts, and women over 65 are the highest rated hosts on the service!

So, why consider joining their ranks?

Well, for starters, a recent study showed that “on average, Airbnb hosts over the age of 65 make $8,350 annually via home-sharing.” That’s a significant sum, and one that could make it easier to stay in your home and supplement your income post-retirement.

There are also documented social benefits! According to one survey conducted by Airbnb, “64 percent of older adults report that hosting has positively changed the way they think, and 45 percent say that hosting has positively affected the way they interact with their community”

In short, home sharing could be a great way to meet new people, have new experiences, and even make some money. But it’s important to remember that this option isn’t right for everybody.

Here are a few questions worth asking yourself if you’re considering whether becoming an Airbnb host will be a good fit for you:

  • Do you have the right space? Would people want to stay in the room(s) you have available? How many people can you truly accommodate?
  • Do you have friends, family, or a second home you could stay at regularly, if you wished to rent your whole home out and need a place to stay yourself?
  • From handing over keys to fielding late-night phone calls from your guests, do you have the time to be a host?
  • How will you clean and maintain your rental space? Will you do it personally? Hire a cleaning service?
  • Are you tech-savvy enough to message with potential guests and handle Airbnb’s online billing system?
  • Do your local laws and ordinances (including your homeowner’s association bylaws) allow you to join a home-sharing network?

To find the answers these and other FAQs—and maybe even sign up to get started—read through Airbnb’s guide for hosts, which is available here.

Have you ever used Airbnb as a guest or as a host? What did you think of it? Be sure to share your thoughts with the Enrollment Specialists, and other curious travelers, by letting us know over on Facebook.

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