There is no question that Airbnb is a popular option for travelers visiting New York City — and for New Yorkers looking to make some extra money by opening their homes to those out-of-towners.
What might come as a surprise, however, is how many of those hosts in New York City are women.
Over the past year, the number of female Airbnb hosts in New York City has grown by more than 17 percent to reach 25,515, who account for 54 percent of all hosts in the five boroughs, according to new Airbnb data.
“I’m not surprised. Hosting is something we do already as a caretaker,” said Richelle, who has been an Airbnb host in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, for about five years. “It wasn’t hard for me to meet and greet people, it’s something innate. It’s who we are.”
The growth didn’t surprise the company, either.
“Historically, women hosts have outnumbered men on Airbnb, but we have noticed that their impact on our platform is growing,” Airbnb spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco said.
In fact, co-founder Brian Chesky said last year women have made $10 billion on Airbnb since its founding in 2008 — and in the past year alone, they've made an additional $10 billion and represent more than half the total community and half the hosts on Airbnb Experiences.
"For us, it's simple: More women Airbnb hosts means more women who are able to use Airbnb to find greater financial, professional and social empowerment," DeBold Fusco said. "While we know that Airbnb cannot single-handedly break down the barriers that many women face both in the workplace and in everyday life, we are proud to support women’s economic empowerment through our platform."
Airbnb 'was really a necessity'
Richelle lives with her family in the classic Brooklyn brownstone she grew up in, and when she and her husband were thinking about renting out the two-bedroom apartment on the top floor after their eldest headed to college, someone suggested they try Airbnb.
“We didn’t have any reservations, really. We’ve always had family and friends come over, so it seems like something we’ve always done all our lives, but this time we’re just getting paid for it,” she added with a laugh. “It’s helped us tremendously to finance our children’s education, and it allowed my husband to stay home with my father when he lived with us because he was very sick.”
Most Airbnb hosts can make an extra $6,000 to $10,000 each year, which can help them pay off loans, start new businesses or save for that proverbial rainy day.
For Sunnyside, Queens, resident Divika, being an Airbnb host allowed her stay home with her kids after her divorce.
“It was really a necessity,” she said. “Of course, when you have little kids in the house, you worry about people coming into the house, so you ease into it, but Airbnb does a good job with the background, if there’s a problem, they’ll solve it, but I’ve never had any problems.”
Airbnb also has 10 host-led Home-Sharing Clubs in the city, which Divika finds a great resource.
“Clubs advocate for fair and clear home-sharing regulations in their city, share best practices around hosting and hospitality, organize community service activities and can serve as a forum to connect those who share a passion for home-sharing,” DeBold Fusco said. “Airbnb supports local clubs by providing them with the tools they need to connect with other hosts in the area.”
Over the years, both Divika and Richelle have seen repeat guests from across the world, and they tailor each visit to individual needs, from making sure there are kid-friendly snacks for travelers with children to taking guests to a neighborhood restaurant.
Divika even sent her kids to visit guests her family has become close with.
“My kids made such great friends in Paris and Italy, and they actually went last year to spend time with them,” she said. “Eventually I will, too. Before Airbnb, I couldn’t afford that.”