A scented candle. A personal city tour. An airport pick up. A special playlist. A great dinner. A new friend. Good hospitality makes a difference. We all know that.
But what if good hospitality – sharing our place, way of life & favorite things could do more than simply make people smile and add an Instagram memory or two?
For the last 10 years or so I’ve been part of, witnessed and learnt about hospitality experiences that have done more than just provide good memories. Hospitality thats changed lives. Guludo Beach Lodge in Mozambqiue, for example, has only 10 rooms but has already impacted over 25,000 local people’s health or education.
But as inspiring as places like Guludo are, they are only individual examples in isolated places. They have not scaled. The ‘responsible/eco/community tourism’ movement is still only on the fringes of mainstream travel.
Recently, however, something has changed.
The Sharing Economy.
We’ve started sharing extraordinary hospitality through a new open, online peer-to-peer economy. In hospitality terms first there was Couchsurfing – stay on a couch anywhere for free; the hippy travelers ultimate online community. Then there were smaller projects like ours, Tribewanted, which focused on one or two locations by crowdfunding their development and engaging people online as well as locally. Now, of course, in Airbnb we have perhaps the most disruptive and fastest growing hospitality business ever. Watching Airbnb’s Open Live event the other day and listening to the team talk passionately about how they see themselves enabling a global army of amazing hosts to share their talents, homes and generosity with curious travelers AND make money – it became more and more obvious that this is just the tip of the iceberg for hospitality with impact.
During Hurricane Sandy in New York, Airbnb host, Shell, decided to let her apartment out for free to victims of the storm. 24 hours later 400 more Airbnb hosts had done the same.
Imagine if that started to happen in places where food, water and shelter are needed more than just during a one-off crisis? How far could an army of networked hosts go?
Could global communities like Airbnb bring their equity spread and host empowerment model to the people and places that really need it, and would there be a demand in such places?
Smartphone access is clearly key – Airbnb has recognised this – but then barriers to entry are low both for potential hosts and guests.
Extraordinary hospitality is about sharing the best of you. Could this action of peaceful giving be a more powerful act than we could have previously imagined?