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“Homesharing helps us get a better work-life balance”

How Airbnb supports local businesses, communities and hosts around the UK.

By Gill Gradden

My partner and I started out as hosts on Airbnb after talking to some friends who had given it a go up in Aviemore, Scotland. After working as a nurse for 30 years – first in A&E at Aintree Hospital, and then in a GP Practice, I found myself with a little bit of money and decided to invest in a property in my home city of Liverpool. It’s a converted church which had formerly been a chapel, and is really quirky and unique. Making the decision to host gives me a better work-life balance and helps us deal with the rising cost of living.

It’s really lovely having people to stay, and we get a lot of pleasure from giving them a good and memorable experience. We like to link guests up with the community by providing a guest pack which recommends local restaurants and experiences. Our guest pack always includes the listings for The Plaza, which is a really old cinema in Liverpool that has been recently renovated. It’s very retro and puts on some fabulous films. There is also a local scuba-diving school near us, which offers scuba experiences for couples. We have also organised a discount with a local restaurant – our guests can get money off their dinner bills if they go there for an evening meal. And we promote a local Polish family-run bakery who provide pastries, bread and coffee for our guests. Everyone absolutely raves about the pastries.

In May 2023, Liverpool hosted the Eurovision song contest – it was wonderful to see the city come alive like that. We purposely didn’t put our prices up, and we hosted a family for the duration of the contest. It was lovely to see Liverpool so vibrant and full with so many people seeing our city for the very first time.

Things have changed in light of the cost-of-living crisis. It was initially a worry, as we wondered whether people would still be willing and able to go away. In November this year, we thought we weren’t going to receive any bookings, but we had three in the space of a week.

In our time as hosts on Airbnb, we’ve cultivated good relationships with some of our guests who have returned on numerous occasions. You really get to know the guests who keep coming back. One regular visitor was pregnant when she first stayed with us, and she has come back with the baby a few times. We had another guest who came from Australia. She sent me a message before she arrived to say that she used to visit the house when it was formerly a church. Her whole family had been there, and her dad used to go to Sunday school in the room which is now our back bedroom.

We have another guest from America who stays with us very regularly. Because he has visited a lot, we gave him a free weekend with his family. It’s great to see people come back because they like the feel of the place.

We really enjoy hosting and hope the new short-term let rules don’t have too much of an impact on us and allow us to carry on doing what we love doing. Airbnb really benefits our local communities, and tourism supports businesses in areas like ours that people otherwise might not visit.

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