How strange is a stranger? Not so much, Airbnb tells us

In the light of day, we learn more about these funny bipeds: they drink tea and coffee, play board games, know how to operate a record player. Like us, they stay up late to watch movies, and a parent carries a sleeping child to bed.

When the vacation is over, they straighten out the crooked photos and leave a thank you note. As they disappear through the door again, the shag disappears and they become ordinary people.

“Strangers aren’t that weird,” the copy reads. “Try accommodation.”

It’s been 14 years since Airbnb disrupted travel. Ten years ago, following a series of horror stories, society the outlook looked bleak. Over a billion guests later, Airbnb has expanded to more than 220 countries and regions around the world.

Overall, according to the company, “we learned a lot– but our most important idea is that aliens really aren’t that weird.”

“Strangers” is an attempt to get more hosts on the platform. Currently, the company has 4 million, earning an average income of $9,600 per year. Of those who reported their gender, 55% are female and 20% are teachers or healthcare workers, or live with one. The pandemic has generated profits for hosts of more than $6 billion.

Airbnb attributes this boom to Covid-19, which has “suddenly detached tens of millions of people from having to work in specific places at specific times”. (Given the statistics above, we would also say that women have particularly need extra income since the start of the pandemic.) Between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of this year, travel time increased by 15%; one in five nights booked in the last quarter were for stays of a month or more. Last Thanksgiving, Airbnb saw a record number of guests for that particular holiday.

It also appears that people are using Airbnb to test out alternative lifestyles, as the “Strangers” ad shows: “Gross room nights booked growth was strongest in rural areas in Q3 2021 compared to third quarter of 2019.”

To sweeten the deal for new hosts, Airbnb promises an easier sign-up process with just “10 steps” to create a listing. The current hosting subsite puts existing minority hosts front and center, especially women.

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