Airbnb services empower hosts, improve women’s safety and build trust
By Carolyn Ray, Editor, JourneyWoman
At a time when extra income has never been more important with a rising cost of living, Airbnb wants more women to consider becoming Airbnb hosts. In addition to its existing services for women’s safety, in November 2022, the company reintroduced and expanded its tools and specialized support including “Ask a Superhost’, ‘Airbnb Setup’, and ‘AirCover’ insurance program. Airbnb also announced six new categories, including a new accessibility category called ‘Adapted’, to encourage both hosts and guests to use their platform.
“Out of the four million hosts, 56 percent of our Airbnb host community globally are women, and in Canada it’s 60 percent,” Powell says. “More women are joining the platform as hosts than men, and because women were disproportionately impacted in the pandemic, hosting has been kind of a lifeline for them to be able to earn that extra income. These women, or those who identify as women on the platform, earned $12 billion just last year alone.”
“Women… earned $12 billion [on Airbnb] last year alone.”
—Catherine Powell, Airbnb
Powell says that hosting can help generate important incremental income to cover the rising costs of living, whether energy or groceries. “In Canada, for example, last year, the average host earned CAD $10,000 a year, which is double the average monthly earning.”
Five services to support women and Airbnb hosts
As Global Head of Hosting, Powell is always connecting with hosts to make sure they are innovating and enabling them to react.
“One of the reasons that our business was so strong, and came back so strongly after the pandemic was we were watching what guests were doing, how they were behaving,” she said. “What was changing? Long-term stays, travelling with families, travelling with pets, needing Wi-Fi, working remotely, schooling remotely.
We were creating dashboards and sharing all of this with our hosts, so that in real-time they could adapt their listings, adapt their home if they wanted to, and respond to what guests need, and we constantly do that. We’re a tech company in travel – we are constantly innovating. And I think that is a big difference.”
1. The new “Adapted” category
In November 2022, Airbnb launched six new categories, including Adapted, New and Top of the World. The ‘Adapted’ category features homes that have been verified for accessibility. Powell was the executive sponsor of Airbnb’s Able Affinity Group, which spearheaded the project. You can see Adapted listings here.
Accessible travel is easier with Airbnb’s new “Adapted’ category / Photo provided by Airbnb
Join our “Limitless Accessibility” Group on January 26 to talk about this and share tips on improving accessibility at accommodations and airports. Sign up here.
2. Expanding ‘AirCover’ Insurance for hosts and guests
AirCover provides insurance to both the host and guest. Announced in 2021, Airbnb has expanded AirCover to include new protections that cover even more inside and outside your home. It covers triple the amount of damage protection and adds automobile, boat, art and valuables protection.
“This announcement expands AirCover so that cars that are parked, boats that are parked at home, your valuables like your art, jewellery, wine, that a guest might end up damaging, inadvertently, is covered,” Powell says. “We’ve increased it from one to three million which is industry-leading. We want any prospective host to know that we understand you’re opening your home, you’re bringing someone into your home – we want you to feel confident and trust that Airbnb has your back.”
Powell sees AirCover as important to build trust with guests.
“If you’re staying on Airbnb, you want to know that what you booked is what you’re going to get,” she says. “In the rare instance that something might go wrong for a guest, we will re-book you. For the host, should something happen, we will protect them with our Damage Protection through AirCover.”
Tip: When you book an Airbnb, always communicate on the app or platform, or you may not be covered: Powell says if something goes wrong, the host isn’t covered and nor is the guest covered.
3. Enhancements for Women’s Safety
Airbnb’s safety record has created some media controversy in the past, but Powell says that given the size of the platform, with almost one billion guest arrivals, safety incidents are very, very rare.
“The safety of our community, our community of guests and hosts is our absolutely number one priority,” she says. “We want everyone, our hosts, our guests, and the communities in which our hosts live, to feel safe.”
Solo Travel Tips
According to Airbnb’s internal data, solo travellers booked 26 percent of all nights booked in 2021. Solo travellers booked more than 50 percent of nights for long-term stays during the first quarter of 2022.
In June 2022, Airbnb announced a new feature for solo travellers when they book a shared room or private room (not an entire place). This feature, which can be accessed on the Airbnb app, provides solo women with questions to ask the host and solo travel tips. In 2021, private rooms saw a 30% increase globally and 70% in Canada.
“We know that there are many solo travellers on the platform, and if you’re looking for a shared room or a private room, we will advise the guest on questions to ask the host,” Powell says. “It could be about the home, whether there are other guests there, the neighbourhood. We have also made it very easy for guests to share their itinerary with their families and friends, which I think is a key part of safety.”
Airbnb allows for itineraries to be shared with other guests, family and friends.
If they have their own Airbnb account, you can invite them to be co-travelers so they have the trip itinerary, including the Host’s contact info and address.
Reservation Screening Technology
In addition to banning parties and party houses, Airbnb has also introduced a new reservation screening technology.
“This is technology which helps identify bookings that we think may be at risk of an unauthorized party,” she explains. “We take into account several factors of that booking, and we look at the guest and the time they’ve been maybe on the platform, whether they have any reviews, whether it’s for one night, whether it’s on New Year’s Eve, whether it’s in a neighbourhood that’s actually very close to where they live – there are flags that are going to go up and we’re going to block it.”
Neighbourhood support line
Airbnb also offers a 24-hour neighbourhood support line to make sure that neighbours and communities can contact us. The 24-hour Safety Line is available to all travelers during active reservations. If a guest ever feels unsafe, they’ll get priority access to specially-trained safety agents, day or night.
“We have 24/7 customer support for our guests and we also specifically have a 24-hour safety line that guests can connect to through the app which will connect them to a team specialised in dealing with safety, she says. “We’ve now got the ability for a guest to connect to the local emergency services in 70 countries.”
Tip: For solo travellers, we recommend consulting NO MORE, a non-profit organization that provides a global directory of resources to report harassment in every country around the world. You can find it here.
4. Airbnb Setup
Airbnb Setup is a completely redesigned, super simple way for hosts to put their place on Airbnb.
“Airbnb Setup is about making it really easy for people to become hosts,” Powell says. “It’s about an easy way to publish your listing, being connected with a superhost (now in 80 countries) in your country or in your region who can really help answer all the questions people have as they think about hosting. Everything from how do I create a home that is welcoming, and what is it to host, to what are the taxes or regulations in my area and how do I do that?”
Since the pandemic, Powell says, 60 million people have visited Airbnb’s host page on the website or in the app to learn how to be a host, how to become a host, to learn about it.
5. Ask A Superhost program
The Ask A Superhost program connects prospective hosts with some of Airbnb’s most experienced hosts for one-on-one advice. There are now over 600 clubs globally, run by people in the community who bring them together in person and over zoom.
“Since launching Ask A Superhost, more than 420,000 connections have been made globally, with over two-thirds of those taking place since the beginning of 2021,” Powell says. “The 2022 Winter Release goes even further with every new host automatically matched with a Superhost to offer additional guidance to help list their space through Airbnb Setup.”
“For example, we have many, many hosts who have really great sustainability practices, and we have many hosts who want to be more sustainable, she says. “So we’ve created webinars and workshops where hosts can share their sustainability tips.”
Interested in hosting? Learn more about how to become an Airbnb host here.
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