By Amanpreet Bajaj
As people around the world are planning their next vacation, homestays continue to emerge as a popular choice. While homestays have been explored by travellers for over a decade now, the flexible new lifestyles many people have adopted since the start of the pandemic have made them an even more attractive option. A study by the Ministry of Tourism estimated that there is a shortage of nearly two lakh rooms in India for tourists. Hosting therefore presents a fantastic opportunity to create supplemental earnings for Indians looking to keep pace with rising costs of living, with additional benefits that go beyond the extra revenue earned. For some, it can be the primary source of income and for some others an alternative source of income to support their day to day needs or ambitious future financial plans.
Additional source of income
Homestays present opportunities for hosts to own and operate their businesses as microentrepreneurs. Many hosts use this source of income to support themselves and their families, and to pursue their personal and professional passions.
One of our host, Soraya Postel from Mumbai is a living example of this – a single mother who started hosting back in 2011 when a close friend signed her up on Airbnb as a gift. Since then, Soraya and her daughter Fabia have hosted more than 400 guests from around the world. Hosting on Airbnb opened many doors for them, and through the income earned they have been able to manage their expenses, run the house and travel the world.
Gauri Ben, a SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) Host from Gujarat, has also welcomed guests from around the world and now earns more in a month from hosting than the entire family typically does in an entire year through harvesting crops.
Mitigating rising costs with hosting
As external forces pushed inflation higher around the world last year, income earned through hosting became an essential part of dealing with higher prices and combating rising costs of living. We last year surveyed hosts on why they decided to host their space on Airbnb, and found that almost a third of the hosts surveyed in India said one of the reasons they host is to earn money to help cover the rising cost of living. Nearly three in 10 hosts said they host to earn money to make ends meet. Over one-third of hosts said they host to earn extra spending money.
Hosts around the world have long shared that hosting helps them to afford their home – with that basic need to pay rents or mortgage repayments serving as the reason why many began hosting in the first place. According to the same survey, nearly 55 percent of hosts in India said that the income earned through hosting has helped them stay in their home in 2021.
People to people connection – Meet people from different cultures
Human connection is at the core of the homestay model. Nurturing a relationship with guests is incredibly important and it’s something hosts tend to be passionate about. Their efforts to provide a welcoming home and an authentic experience for the guests help make what they offer so memorable.
As a homestay owner, you’ll never be short of opportunities to meet new people. Our survey found that more than half of hosts surveyed in India are hosting on Airbnb to meet people from around the world. Almost half of hosts want to connect with people from different countries to know about their culture and share more about the Indian culture with them.
Hosting directly and indirectly helps support jobs and local communities
Homestays also help bring valuable tourist dollars into communities that benefit local guides, gardeners, cooks, caretakers, drivers, cultural activities hosts, retailers, and eateries, among others. The rise in community-minded travel where local residents invite travelers to visit their communities and stay with them is also helping generate direct economic benefits to these destinations. This further helps foster more responsible travel that benefits local businesses and enables job creation.
Hosting comes with one more extraordinary perk — you can enjoy as much flexibility as you’d like. Hosting is all about welcoming people into your home as and when you please. Hosting supports your ability to take holidays because you can offset the costs of them by hosting while you’re away. It is flexible enough to suit your lifestyle and meet your schedules.
Learn new skills
Homeshare owners pick up a lot of new skills just by being a host. You can quickly build skills in numerous areas like customer service, marketing, communications, finance, listing optimisation, and of course, managing a business. And you’ll also learn a thing or two from guests staying at your home. Whether they’re foreigners or locals, every visitor you host is unique. Their cultural backgrounds, their interests, and life experiences could possibly teach you something new. All these things will definitely enrich you and broaden your horizon.
A sharing economy is driven by its community. It is based on trust and collaboration between both its users and providers. For many, hosting not only represents an additional source of income, but a way of life that’s rewarding and fulfilling on a number of levels.
The author is the General Manager – Airbnb India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETTravelWorld.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETTravelWorld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.