Surprisingly and somewhat suddenly we have our whole apartment back to ourselves and our sofa bed is once more a couch. On Tuesday we received a request from our landlord to stop hosting through Airbnb, a message given to many other apartments in our complex over the last week. Though the request came out of the blue, we knew when we decided to host through Airbnb we were taking a risk, particularly given the ever changing rules and regulations about use of the service in San Francisco.
So on Wednesday afternoon I met with our landlord to have a difficult conversation, agreeing we’d stop hosting through Airbnb. The platform faces many challenges all around the world, particularly on their home turf in San Francisco. New laws have come into place over the last 6 months regarding hosting on Airbnb to ensure that there is still plenty of opportunity for residents to rent and live in this city yet also give way for the incredible opportunities and experiences the service allows. However the laws aren’t without resistance from the obvious: hotel chains and landlords of large complexes and unfortunately our case of resistance came from the latter, and so we apologised and complied with the request.
It was with great sadness that we packed away our many sheets and towel sets, Ghirardelli chocolates and guidebooks after this incredible and short-lived journey. Though only two months, we met and hosted almost sixty people from 14 countries, each bringing different life stories and experiences, different travelling styles and some even brought gifts! We feel like we’ve grown and learnt so much through the opportunity, so as a farewell to our Airbnb hosting experience I thought I’d reflect on Airbnb’s vision that you can belong anywhere.
Our guests truly came from diverse backgrounds – some came from cities around the USA, others across the Atlantic in Europe and still others as far flung as Asia and Australia (woohoo!) While most spoke English, for many it wasn’t their first language and we noticed a lot of couples enjoyed having another language they could privately communicate in after a long day being out on the road! Some woke up at the crack of dawn to make the most of the daylight; others slept in till 11am and hit the town after a hearty brunch. Many enjoyed following the popular tourist circuit, catching a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf and trying In-N-Out burger for the first time, while the rare few specifically asked for my personal recommendations for seeing the city as a “local” (and this definitely means steering clear of Fisherman’s Wharf!). Some were students road tripping the Californian coastline and escaping the deep freeze of the east, others were taking a well-deserved break from their work as accountants, software developers, marketers, and doctors. Most travelled in pairs and the rare few came individually.
We definitely met a kaleidoscope of people which I truly believe shows that Airbnb does allow you to belong anywhere. Whether a nervous weekender or a seasoned jetsetter we aimed to give all our guests a real & authentic San Francisco experience, and hoped they felt like they could belong in our home and city! From sharing our tips and tricks, helping them jump on the right bus or staying up till 1am sharing our travel stories with each other, we wanted everyone to feel right at home the moment they stepped through our door. I believe Airbnb has been so successful because it connects travelers with locals who aren’t only incredibly passionate about their cities and hometowns, but fully committed to helping their guests belong. Travel always brings out the best and worst in people – being in a new place with different food (and trust me, I’m still trying to get used to American food!), complete strangers and an unfamiliar language for some can bring challenges that many people don’t often cope well with. Airbnb is turning that around. This community celebrates the differences in humanity by encouraging guests and hosts alike to share their unique stories and experiences. It teaches us that though travel plans may change and expectations aren’t always met, it’s all a part of the exciting learning experience that the honour of travel bestows upon us and ultimately leads us to feel that yes, we can belong anywhere.
Seeing our Airbnb hosting chapter come to a close is definitely bittersweet. Opening up our home to strangers who’ve quickly become friends has been some of the most fun we’ve ever had; yet moving on we’re looking forward to regaining our space and using it for different reasons. Our home back in Sydney was always full of dinners, board game nights and sleepovers with friends and I’m excited to think that we’ll be able to invite many of our new friends in San Francisco over to our place for a BBQ and pavlova 😉 We have many things leftover in the wake of our Airbnb experience – from way too many towels, a ginormous jar of Vegemite that Navin will have to finish all by himself (yes, call me unAustralian but I hate it!!) and a little guidebook I wrote to help our guests enjoy this city to its fullest (which you can now download below!!) but most of all it’s the memories and lessons that have been left behind that I’ll forever be grateful for.
Airbnb truly is an incredible community and we’re going to continue travelling and staying at Airbnb places around America as we experience everything this country has to offer! Though the disruption of the shared economy with services like Airbnb and Uber is causing cities around the world to reevaluate their laws and regulations, we’re excited to see the way forward for these companies as they transform the way that people travel and use transportation, allowing people to share their resources everywhere from USA to Australia. If you haven’t used Airbnb yet, I can highly recommend you try it for your next trip. You can sign up to the community via this link and you’ll even get $25 off your first booking!
You can download my Welcome to San Francisco Guide here.* Though the A-Z of staying at our place probably won’t be helpful we certainly hope the tips of what to see and places to eat are useful when you come to visit! San Francisco may just be the second best city in the world 😉 And friends, now our couch isn’t always occupied by Airbnb you have no excuse for not booking your ticket over here pronto! See you soon 🙂
*If you stumbled on this blog because you’re an Airbnb host in San Francisco and would like a copy of our Welcome to San Francisco Guide to adapt yourself, please send me an email via my Contact page and I’d be happy to share it 🙂