Airbnb a boon for over-60s

Published Oct 8, 2018


JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has seen growth of nearly 40percent of senior Airbnb hosts in the past year as more senior homeowners are turning to the platform to supplement their pension.

Airbnb’s latest statistics showed that more people over 60 are choosing to share their homes on the platform in their older years.

According to Airbnb, the way that people retire is changing as more people are living longer than before, working later in life and scaling down for a more manageable lifestyle, opting to use a different skills set for an additional source of income.

This meant that some people were starting a small business from home or taking on freelance or advisory work.

New statistics released by Airbnb showed that adults aged 60 and older are the fastest-growing and highest rated host demographic on the Airbnb platform and there are now more than 400000 hosts in that age group on Airbnb worldwide.

Last year, these hosts earned upwards of $2billion (R29.5bn) with more than 13.5million guests from more than 150 countries staying at their listings.

Airbnb said these hosts are also the “most loved”, receiving better reviews than any other age group, with 85percent boasting five-star ratings.

Airbnb said older adults have taken to the platform in recent years to utilise unused space in their homes, to meet new people and learn about different cultures, or as an additional source of income or to supplement their incomes.

In South Africa, the year-on-year growth for senior South Africans becoming hosts was 39.37‘percent (September 1, 2017, to September 1, 2018), making them the fastest growing host age group in the local market.

Airbnb country manager for South Africa, Velma Corcoran, said reports show that the proportion of South Africa’s population aged over 60 is growing at Airbnb and the platform is opening up new ways to travel for older people.

“Importantly, we’re using technology to empower older people across the country to host and earn extra money. As we are living longer and need to stretch our savings even further into retirement, Airbnb hosting can provide an important earning opportunity. Hosting can also be a wonderful way to meet new people, and for older people to cope with loneliness and isolation,” said Corcoran.

South African hosts, Sid and Rahel Kahn, from Port Elizabeth, have used their son’s room to host guests after he moved out of the house.

“We had a friend and her husband visiting from Cape Town. She looked at the room and said we should think about using it as a B&B. She was doing the same thing in Cape Town. So, we started and it’s grown nicely,” said Sid Kahn. The Kahns started hosting guests at their home in the 1990s as a B&B when they retired, relying mostly on word of mouth and referrals, but signed up with Airbnb late last year to try to attract more business.

“We’re on the recommended list at the hospital and when people want to stay over, they often refer them to us. Our place is very comfortable, convenient and we do try to go out of our way for people. We even have wheelchair access, and recently won an award for excellence in accommodation for people with special needs,” said Sid.

According to Airbnb, globally, the over-60s group of guests are also setting records as the fastest-growing of any age group using Airbnb, with the number of seniors booking accommodation via the site growing by 66percent in the past year. South Africa has one of the highest proportion of over-60s who travel via the platform.


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