Airbnb has been one of our affiliate partners for about close to two years now, along with a personal preference for myself, founder and head designer Keara Douglas, for a little over four years now. In the beginning when I first came across the peer-to-peer accommodation service, I was a little skeptical. I was a frequent traveler as I worked for Strawbridge Photography at the time and as a requirement for the job I needed a reliable means of accommodation for myself while traveling from school to school for photoshoots set up by my job. While being a school photographer for the company, I found out upfront how expensive hotel stays could become on a regular basis and just how frustrating it became to be away from that home setting on a regular basis. Hotels are cool and all and fun sometimes depending on where you stay and your reasoning for staying, but for me I am a real big home body and the frequent stays at the hotels became a bothersome for me. The fact that there was no personal touch bothered me the most as you would assume. Even with the artwork placed in each room, it just felt generic and forced to me, just thrown up just to have something on the wall. All of the rooms were set up the exact same, with again no personal touches. Plus the limited space was an issue. Of course the company I worked for wanted to save as much money as possible so that meant the most basic room selections without it being too cheap. Basically your 3-star hotels. This was cool and I was forever grateful to be given the opportunity and an accommodation so I wouldn’t have to be on the road on a constant basis at odd hours of the morning and night, but it was still a bothersome for me overall.
During one of my stays at one of the Hilton hotels, my personal favorite hotel to stay at, I decided to get a drink at their bar and just chill after a very long day at work. I had done a full picture day photoshoot for a local elementary school in Durham, North Carolina & just wanted to relax at bit before I had to call it a night and get ready for day two at another neighboring elementary school in the same city. While at the bar, I struck up a conversation with this guy that seemed to be there on business as well. He had to have been in his late 50s, early 60s, older cat with a lot of wisdom he was ready to share. We talked for close to an hour over drinks and little finger foods about pretty much anything, but mainly about work and school. You know your typical conversations between a 20 year old and 50 year old about how I needed to keep going with school and how life had not hit me yet and how his younger days went back when he was my age. He disclosed he was in finance and was just looking for ways to cut costs in life overall just like myself. This is when I first heard of and was introduced to Airbnb. At that moment I had no idea what it was nor what its purpose was until he filled me in on the details of the service, so I made a mental note that I would check into it once I got back home after my work week was over.
I got back to Charlotte, North Carolina that Friday afternoon and decided to look into the service for myself. At first I was skeptical about the idea of staying in someone’s else’s space whom I did not know personally, really at all. All types of scenarios popped into my mind but I said I would do my own research and give it a try since I seen a lot of great reviews about the company itself at the time & to my luck I made a great decision.
My first stay with Airbnb was wonderful!
I made sure that I picked what they call a “Superhost” to stay with starting off since I was new to the service. Superhosts are hosts who have a top reputation of great stays and great reviews for their stays from guests. I figured this was a better route to go versus taking a chance on something that doesn’t have too many reviews or may have bad reviews overall. The place that I decided to go with was owned by this lovely couple from Charlotte, North Carolina around my age at the time that owned multiple properties all over the city. You could tell that they’d been in the Airbnb business for a while and had really made it like a job for them to provide accommodations for the public. The fact that they owned and had multiple properties around the city made me more confident with staying with Airbnb as well. It made me feel like they knew what they were doing so that meant if something did happen to go wrong I could in fact find them along with being more confident in knowing they would fix any issue that may have come up. First stay was in this beautiful condo very close to Uptown Charlotte, pretty much walking distance to all the main attractions Uptown. Unlike the previous hotel rooms I had stayed in, this condo had the personal touches that was needed while traveling. From the artwork, to the furniture. There was even a personal balcony for me to enjoy as well and we all know that hotels don’t have that most of the time and if they do you are paying an arm and a leg for it. This condo had a full living room with a television and surround sound speakers, a full bedroom with a very comfortable bed, full closet, full bathroom with a shower and bath tub with jets as well for your enjoyment, along with a laundry room with a full washer and dryer and a full kitchen full of any utensils you needed for cooking. Now with my very lengthy experience with hotels, you don’t even get half that when you book with them. Plus on top of that my first stay with Airbnb only cost me $50 USD per night, totaling $100 USD for the entire weekend! A traditional hotel room would’ve cost me twice as much and I would not have received anything close to what came with my Airbnb stay!
Now, my first couple stays with Airbnb were wonderful but there are some who did not have the privilege of having a great host in the years that came after my first visit. If you can remember, a couple years back Airbnb had a huge, nationwide problem with racism towards guests by some of the hosts apart of the site which steered a lot of paying African American travelers and potential guests away permanently. Some would show up for their stays, only to be greeted by residents of those sam condos who would in fact call the cops on them for no reason but the fact that they were African American and temporarily staying in the same buildings as these black travelers. When this happened, I was highly disappointed and became very disturbed by the brand as a whole because, well I am African American and an African American woman and didn’t want any problems coming about for myself while traveling due to the color of my skin. This almost alone made me turn my back on the company due to fear. Nobody wants to be bombarded by someone giving you a hard time due to the color of your skin. This is never alright at all under any circumstances no matter what race you are. Since then, things have calmed down a bit and the brand has begun to do better and more thorough screenings of who can and can not host which led m to thinking, what if we as African Americans began using Airbnb as hosts more the same way we use it as travelers?
Most of the people that use Airbnb are either students, business travelers or creatives of all different races from all over the world. What if African Americans began providing their own spaces as a method of accommodation for those travelers as well? You can do this by joining the Airbnb’s Host Program. For us creatives, and black creatives at that, we are always looking for ways to cut costs and Airbnb can be a huge resource to make that happen. If you are an African American creative that has accommodations that can be of help to someone else traveling for business and/or fun, consider using it to host guests to stay while they are in your city. Not only is it a great way for you to make a consistent income, but it would also give other creatives of color more options when it comes to where they stay while visiting. Diversity is highly important when it comes to accommodations and I believe we have the power to make a great change for the platform as a whole.
Right now, on average, Airbnb hosts are making up $600 per week if not more. I don’t know about you, but making $600 every week on top of your traditional 9-5 pay and your creative services you may offer can be a great additional income boost overall. You would be in control of your availability, prices, house rules and your interaction with guests. As far as protection goes for you and your property if things don’t go as planned with a guest or two, Airbnb does offer a $1M USD property damage protection and another $1M USD in insurance against accidents. They are very adamant in protecting hosts right along with guests. And don’t worry, you don’t have to pay a thing to become a host, all listings posted are 100% free for you! As a creative, providing your space to another creative is what the art community is all about, helping one another. But hosting and providing your space as a black creative takes it a step further in helping to make sure that we as African American creatives stay safe & out of harms way while traveling.
Sign up to become an Airbnb Host below.
If you’ve hosted before, or are currently a host and would like to give some tips and advice on the service, comment below in our comment section!
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