The global gender pay gap has women making 77 cents (INR 58.54) for every dollar (INR 76.03) a man earns, according to the United Nations. The organisation adds that we likely won’t reach gender pay parity until 2069. Women represent just 24 percent of C-suite jobs in the USA and Canada. There are fewer women in CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies than there are men named James. And due to the global pandemic, approximately one in five women say they were pushed out of the workforce. There is, however, one place women reign supreme: Airbnb. By Stacey Leasca
According to the home rental giant, women earned more than USD 1.1 billion (INR 83,65,69,80,000) from the platform in 2021, with approximately USD 550 million (INR 41,82,84,90,000) in the USA alone. In 2021, female hosts also received a higher share of five-star reviews (91 percent) than their male counterparts (89 percent).
Not only are women the stars of the show when it comes to knocking their rentals out of the park, but people like Catherine Powell, the global head of hosting at Airbnb, are ensuring female voices ring out across the company.
“Some 56 percent of our global community identifies as women, which is just amazing,” Powell shares with Travel + Leisure. “And in some countries, a significant majority are women. So, 59 percent of our hosts in the USA are women. In Japan, it’s 59 percent. In South Africa, it’s 65 percent. We have Superhosts, who are the best hosts, and 59 percent of our Superhosts are women.”
According to Powell, this cream of the crop of hosts comes from all walks of life and nationalities, and they all choose to host for different reasons. But one main theme that Powell says she sees often is that female hosts tend to gravitate toward the platform during moments of transition.
“As a mother, your child goes off to college and you have a spare room. Or, you may lose your job and need another income, or you need a side income. You may need that economic opportunity, or you may be looking for companionship,” she says.
Powell sees the value in what Airbnb can do better than most — specifically in impactful, world-alerting moments.
In January 2020, Powell came to Airbnb from Disney Parks to head the company’s Experiences channel. But just two months in, Powell made the heart-wrenching decision to suspend the program due to the growing threat of COVID-19. A few months later, Powell also became the company’s global head of hosting, which meant she interfaced with hosts on a near-daily basis, and time and time again, she heard, “We want to keep going.”
“They would say they want to continue to connect with their guests. And Brian [Chesky] would say, ‘But we’re about human connection. That is the heart of the brand,'” she says.
In the end, Chesky supported the vision and let Powell run with it, shifting in-person Experiences online.
“This was interactive. It was a small group. It wasn’t YouTube. It wasn’t Instagram, or all the things that were happening online during the pandemic — these were different. They were live. We needed them to feel special,” says Powell. “People responded because they were unable to connect [offline]. They were separated and couldn’t travel or celebrate birthdays or graduation. It was amazing to see the connection that our hosts were able to transfer from a very in-person experience to an online experience.”
Powell adds that women or anyone looking to reap these benefits can do so — they just need to be willing to open their heart and home.
“It’s about taking this opportunity to meet incredible people,” she says. “And get the flexibility this gives you, the economic revenue stream this gives you, which will allow you to travel, too.”
Ready to host? Here are five tips from a few of Airbnb’s top-performing women hosts on how to do the job right.
Create a moment for guests
“I would tell a new host to create the space and experience you would want if you were travelling or looking for a getaway. Include the little touches you would appreciate, whatever those are, like really good coffee or an easy recycling system. Greeting your guests face to face is an important way to connect and establish mutual trust and respect — you can get a sense of their needs, and, having met you, they’re apt to be respectful of your place.” — Jackie, Airbnb Host in Canada
Be the kind of host you’d want to have
“Hosts should give their best in order to receive the best. In addition, it’s important to welcome others as you would like to be welcomed.” — Dulce, Airbnb Host in Gramado, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Pour as much love as possible into your home experience
“You have to love being a host, and host with lots of love. Don’t think about the money you’ll receive, but in serving your guests as if they were your friends. Also, the home must be your home — it must have your essence, not look like it’s part of a deco magazine, without a soul. That’s my advice: Host with love. And if you like serving people, receiving people in your home, and communicating with people, I believe you’re going to do great.” — Danyra, Airbnb Host in Cuidad de México, Mexico
Be clear about the expectations for guests
“My advice to new hosts is to set clear expectations on both sides. For guests, be as honest and accurate in your listing description as possible and invest in high-quality, professional photography. For yourself, be clear about the reasons why you want to host and what you’d like to gain from the experience. It takes more work and patience than most people assume, so having a realistic and positive outlook from the beginning can go a long way. Also, always try to give guests the benefit of the doubt. After hosting 1,000 guests, I can honestly say that good guests far outweigh the occasional difficult one, and a little extra hospitality and grace can go a long way.” — Melissa, Airbnb Host in Portland, Oregon