Nearly 10 years ago now, our founders, Brian, Joe and Nate, not only unlocked a new, more authentic way of traveling through home sharing, they helped create a movement for anyone with spare space in their homes to offer hospitality. And with Airbnb Experiences, hosts can also share their passions, talents and interests to offer guests a chance to see a different side to a destination through unique, handcrafted activities.
This Airbnb way of traveling can only be made possible through our hosts. Our hosts — and the guests that they welcome — are true pioneers in a new way of travel.
Be they Home hosts who open their doors or Experience hosts who share their passions, what we’re seeing is nothing short of extraordinary. All around the world, people who were previously less able to tap into the benefits of tourism are now leading the way.
In fact, hosts are realizing the economic benefits of the travel and tourism industry like never before. Let’s look at the numbers. Last year, according to the U.N. World Tourism Organization, travel and tourism represented 10 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product, a monetary measure of the total market value of goods and services in the world. But that percent doesn’t do this opportunity justice. Said another way, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, travel and tourism accounted for $7.6 trillion in the global economy.
At Airbnb, we’re helping individuals who reside in large cities as well as tiny villages, including seniors, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, persons with disabilities, and people who previously may not have been able to access the benefits of tourism due to financial limitations to forge new paths for their communities by tapping into and growing this economic opportunity — creating a more innovative, host-led and inclusive world.
Take our women hosts for example. Women are the driving force behind Airbnb’s global community, making up more than half of all hosts and generating more than $10 billion in income between March 2017 and March 2018. And with partnerships like the one Airbnb has with Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), we are helping disadvantaged women in rural India find new income opportunities.
Economic empowerment for our hosts was one of the main reasons why I chose to join Airbnb as the company’s President of Homes. I wanted to be part of a new way of traveling and further extend the economic benefits of travel and tourism to future generations of guests and hosts. In my role, I look for ways to better assist our existing Home hosts around the world and to encourage even more people to connect with others and enrich their lives by being Airbnb hosts.
So when I was preparing to begin my new role, I knew that I wanted to first spend some time meeting and listening to our hosts before my first official day in the office. So I took to the road — and to historic Route 66 to be exact.
If you’re not familiar, Route 66 stretches from Chicago, Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in California, near Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles.
Now, during my job interviews with Airbnb, references to Route 66 kept popping up in unexpected, yet affirming ways. Before one of my first interviews, I stayed at an Airbnb adorned with an old Route 66 highway sign over its parking space. Then, when I went to a live Airbnb Concert before another interview, the band was playing “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.” From then on, each time I saw a Route 66 sign, it caused me to pause, and think about all the hosts who at that moment were sharing their homes along this popular route. That inspired me to meet some of them, to hear about their experiences, and to see how they were connecting to the many guests that even today travel along this famous corridor.
I invite you to watch a short video and meet some of the special hosts who I met and who share their homes along Route 66.
Throughout the month of July, I encourage you to meet even more hosts who share their homes and passions through Airbnb. Through our news this month, we’ll highlight hosts and guests who are pioneering new ways to earn and live on Airbnb. You’ll see how our technology brings people and their communities together to provide transformative and meaningful connections. We’ll also bring to life some travel stories of hosts and guests sharing in the first-of-their-kind experiences.
Everyday, we all have the opportunity to be modern-day pioneers. We can empower one another to create new ways of working, traveling, and experiencing the world. That’s why I’m here at Airbnb and it’s why I hope that you’ll continue to host and travel with us.
Let’s keep traveling forward.