What I learned as a host (Airbnb Whims Pt. 4)

If you haven’t read my previous posts, I am a twenty-one year old Computer Engineering student at UW — , and I am obsessed with Airbnb. The product, the platform, the company, the community. Last October, I decided looking at the community from the fringe wasn’t good enough and jumped into hosting.

This is part of what I learned hosting for Airbnb. I say learned because this post is a requiem; I unfortunately can no longer host (for now). Here is the story.

a welcome from my roommates and me
“the sharing economy is commerce with the promise of personal connection”
— Joe Gebbia, Airbnb Cofounder

We started the first week in October, and every weekend for two months my roommate, Zack, and I would sleep on the couches either in our living room or on the front porch (even in rainy, 50 degree weather, on a couple occasions), because we had guests living in our bedroom.

We loved it.

We weren’t being saints, we were being college kids. Besides our obvious interest to test out Airbnb for ourselves, we were also just trying to pay the bills. And we did — all of October and November’s rent was paid in full with Airbnb money alone.

What surprised us the most was how grateful each guest was, even when we knew our college apartment wasn’t the most spacious or elegant thing by any means. We did nothing special — clean sheets, fresh towels, a place to sleep — and yet we got reviews like this:

Mike is a super host one of the best so far.

This was incredible to read (especially after only hosting 2 guests beforehand), but what was cooler to see was what our guests did on their own: without the app, without the website. We left out the pen and paper, but the guests had this idea on their own. It quickly caught on .

these are the reviews I care about

These notes are still hanging in my room, and I am saddened that more will not be added anytime soon. The truth is that I stopped hosting due to our insurance policy. Insurance. Something as meaningless as insurance is holding me back from building that wall of notes, continuing those traditions, and making connections with more human beings — which is what I care most about.

What I learned is this: we can make technology that lets humans interact (think any social media), or we can make technology that empowers people to make real connections themselves. Our guests could have thanked us via Facebook, left a note for us on Twitter, or emailed us their appreciations, but what they did was so much more real. I see those notes every single day.

So yes the dream is to work for a company like Airbnb, but these articles are not just about that. Airbnb isn’t what inspired these thoughts — I have always just loved people. Writing about this company is just the perfect means for me to share the thoughts I already think each day. Instead of creating technology that makes this or that better, why not work to better what really matters: the people.

If you are interested in hosting, or have any questions, please to shoot me a message (I’m Mike), email me at mrfix84@gmail.com, or hit me up on Twitter @fixitup2. You can also use my referral link when you sign up for Airbnb if you would like. Thank you so much for reading.

Joe Gebbia, Co-founder of Airbnb, gives his perspective on the sharing economy

Older posts:
* Part 1: Why It Matters
* Part 2: Technology — What’s Missing?
* Part 3: Why Airbnb is Missing Out by not Targeting Younger Generations