Air BnB appoints Ambassadors in Fiji
for rural tourism, Airbnb appoints Ambassadors in Fiji
In July 2017, I woke up to a news article which five months later, would lead me to an invaluable impact role for communities at home in Fiji. The news article announced Airbnb entering into a partnership with the World Bank to boost rural tourism - a move that was made to close the economic gap between rural and urban communities, particularly in developing nations. For those who are unfamiliar with Airbnb, it is a website that allows everyday people to host guests at their homes and earn an income while doing so. By creating a listing on the website, Airbnb hosts can welcome guests into a private room, a shared room or their entire house if unused for a period of time. The website is flexible so hosts are able to manage their own calendars for when their space is available for guests - even if this is just a few weeks a year! The organisation is headquartered in San Francisco and since 2008 has had more than 3 million people list their properties on the website. I knew firsthand from my own travels around the world, that a growing number of people were beginning to chase local experiences during their holidays. I personally had used to Airbnb many times to live in the homes of locals for a truer
experience of the city, town or village I was exploring. From a cottage in an Italian village to an apartment in the heart of Paris, I had a home wherever I roamed. It was only natural that after reading the news article on the World Bank partnership, I grew more excited about the unlocking the potential that Airbnb had for families back home in Fiji. In December 2017, I was appointed as an Ambassador for Airbnb for the Pacific Islands along with Allen Price, who was also born and raised in Suva. Together, we have been tasked with growing the host community in the Pacific Islands and naturally we have decided to start at home in Fiji. Airbnb is the go-to place for travellers who are looking for offthe-beaten path experiences and with our diverse landscape and rich culture; this presents thousands of families across the country with an opportunity to share the benefits of growing interest in tourism. In the spirit of the World Bank partnership, our goal as ambassadors is to help as many Fiji home-owners as possible to create listings on the Airbnb website and welcome guests into their homes — listing is free of cost and Airbnb simply takes 3% of your earnings when you earn by hosting a guest. Our services as Ambassadors are absolutely free and we will be helping those interested to not only create their listing on the website but also providing guides on how to use the Airbnb app and how to host guests successfully and responsibly. It has been heartening to see the uptake of Airbnb among the homeowners we have spoken to in Fiji. In early January, I helped Fane from Naitasiri set up her Airbnb Listing — a private room in her family home. Within a week, Fane welcomed her first guests! “They were a Jewish couple from America. They are vegetarians and asked me to cook dinner for the two nights they were here with us, which I did for an affordable extra cost. The good thing about Airbnb is that you only need to provide a room with a bed and fresh sheets, so I was able to charge a little extra for their meals when they asked. On the first night I made roti with dhal, pumpkin curry and fried bean. On the second night I made them Fijian food — rourou cooked with fresh coconut milk and eggplant deep fried with uto and taro. Both were simple meals and they loved it. We also took them for a swim in the river and for a drive up the road just as an extra for some sight seeing”, Fane told me. When asked about the experience of hosting on Airbnb for the first time, Fane really lit up and glowed with enthusiasm. “I really loved it and enjoyed hosting. It is so exciting! They were my first guests and it has opened my eyes to a new way in which I can make money to support my family.” A key feature of Airbnb is the two-sided review process whereby both the guest and the host review each other. I felt proud and happy to read the wonderful review left for Fane by her American guests: “We stayed two nights with Fane, Peter, and their family and absolutely loved it. The house is located about 10 km from Colo-i-Suva in beautiful rural surroundings, near a big river you can swim in (most probably all to yourself), near a local village you can visit, and surrounded by many trees and flowers. The en-suite room was spacious, very comfortable, and well equipped. Fane is a great cook and very accommodating for any diet. We really enjoyed our dinners there (for reasonable extra cost). There are quite a few buses passing in the main road, just 1 minute walk from the house that go to Suva, Colo-i-Suva, and elsewhere. If you prefer taxis, Peter is a taxi driver who knows the areas very well. Staying with Fane and Peter and learning so much about the Fijian culture was a unique experience”, writes their guest Nava. More than 200 million people from around the world have used Airbnb to stay with local hosts and my hope is that everyone who owns a home and wants to earn additional income while pursuing their career and dreams will list any rooms they have available on Airbnb.
To access free services from your Ambassadors visit: Website: www.homeinroam/airbnb Facebook: www.facebook.com/homeinroam