BANGKOK, 1 November 2017: Old people, the seniors of the world, were the focus of attention on the UN’s International Day of Older Persons, 30 October.
It was billed as an opportunity to celebrate the older people in our lives, and to acknowledge the impact they have on our families, communities and societies.
Ironically, this year’s theme “Stepping into the Future”, focuses on what seniors might feel they lack most; a future.
But Airbnb, taking a cue from the UN’s global day for seniors, notes that its the 60 to 90 year olds who are flocking to Airbnb with older guests saying they love the opportunity to travel and hiring a villa or house for a stay appeals to their lifestyle more than the booking into a traditional hotel stay.
Last year, more than 1.5 million travellers, age 60 and above, explored the Asia-Pacific region using accommodation booked through Airbnb.
Seniors are also active hosts on Airbnb, opening up their homes and welcoming travellers. They make up around 10% of the region’s host community.
In Thailand, 60 to 90 is one of the fastest-growing age brackets among Airbnb hosts, having grown by nearly 40% year on year. They are also the second highest earners (behind 50 to 59 year olds), bringing in an average of USD 2667 in annual supplementary income. This is considerably higher than the annual income earned by 18 to 24 and 25 to 29 year old hosts, who earn an annual average of USD1370 and USD1659 from hosting, respectively.
The extra revenue estimated in excess of US2,500 a year is tax free and supplements retirement pensions.
Senior hosts are consistently the best rated Airbnb hosts across Southeast Asia, and receive better reviews than any other demographic host categories. They also receive a higher percentage of five-star reviews than any other age groups, ( 81% of trips hosted by seniors result in a five-star review).
Airbnb country manager for SEA, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Robin Kwok added: “We know that people all over the world want a new kind of travel, and to experience new cities through the eyes of the locals who live there. Senior hosts are perfectly placed to provide these truly authentic experiences.”
So who are the star performers for Airbnb around the region?
At nearly 91 years old, Grandma – as she affectionately calls herself – is the oldest Airbnb host in APAC.
Grandma has lived in the Thai/Myanmar border town of Kanchanaburi for 20 years. On hosting, Grandma says ‘it makes me happy to provide a homely atmosphere for residents, and to make our community feel like a family’.
Aunty Chwee Lian is an 87-year-old great-grandma who runs Singapore’s last Taoist deity shop.
She has worked at the shop for 70 years, during which time she has raised seven children and become a fixture of the 121-year-old shop, which is packed from floor to ceiling with Taoist effigy statues. She does not speak English, so her grandsons translate, while Aunty Chwee Lian tells the stories of these ancient deities, and demonstrates the art of effigy making.
PP Chan is a retired tour guide with a passion for travel and exploring the world, who loves welcoming guests from all over the world.
His guests love him too, commenting: “PP Chan is an amazing host! Very friendly and passionate. You can ask him anything about Sandakan.” They describe him as ‘very hospitable, going out of his way to make the stay comfortable’.
Adrian is an Australian host living in Indonesia. Together with his wife who comes from Lombok, Adrian manages homestays, welcoming travellers from all over the world. Adrian has travelled all of the world and is a big music fan – he plays the tenor saxophone and has a music studio full of guitars, keyboards and drums.