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    How one Kenyan Superhost promotes inclusivity while hosting

    Meet a Host based in Nairobi, and get her tips to make all guests feel welcome.
    By Airbnb on Mar 4, 2021
    6 min read
    Updated Mar 4, 2021

    Highlights

    • A Superhost in Nairobi, Kenya, provides hosting tips to promote inclusivity

    • To continue to confront and dismantle inherent bias, check out our reading list

    International Women’s Day is March 8, and the theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge, encouraging us all to commit to calling out inequality and working to create an inclusive world.

    In the U.S. and Canada, Black History Month is honored in February and Women’s History Month is in March, so there are many opportunities in the first months of the year to celebrate groups that have historically experienced inequity and discrimination.

    But at Airbnb, honoring women’s history and Black history doesn’t just start and end with a month. We find it important to celebrate women’s history as well as Black history, which is global history, every day. In that vein, we spoke with a Black Superhost based in Nairobi, Kenya, about her experience hosting people from around the world, and got her tips for promoting inclusivity.

    Superhost Juliette of Nairobi, Kenya, shared that she has experienced discrimination at four different airports while traveling. “I was singled out and frisked, despite having solid travel documents,” she says. “These experiences made me rise above and ensure I show compassion, warmth, empathy in my cross-cultural journey.”

    The Black community has historically faced discrimination when traveling, but that same community has also come together to address those challenges and help make travel more safe and welcoming. At Airbnb, we’ve long felt that travel and the connections made through it offer some of the best ways to overcome bias and break down prejudices, and we’re committed to helping break down these barriers one by one.

    A Host’s journey

    Juliette is a Host community leader of the Kenya Host group, which means that she volunteers to lead the group as well as meetups for fellow Hosts. Before she became a Host, she was a corporate business strategy consultant for more than 20 years. After she took early retirement in August 2014, she traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, and booked a home on Airbnb. After that experience, she was excited about the prospect of hosting.

    “I immediately went home, revamped my home, and decided I wanted to list my home on Airbnb,” Juliette tells us. But before she officially published her listing in January 2015, she was indecisive. “I changed my mind quite a few times … but Pamellah, a Host ambassador, convinced me to try it.”

    Juliette says the educational resources that are available now, like Host meetups and groups on social media, have made it even easier to host. Back then, she relied on forming one-on-one connections with fellow Hosts like Pamellah to answer her questions and guide her through the process.

    All in the family

    Juliette lists her family home on Airbnb. “I raised my children in the same house,” she says. “I know every unique part of that home, where it's warmer and where it's a little colder.” Now, she happily welcomes new generations of families to her space.

    “I particularly pride myself in providing a welcoming home for families with newborns and babies,” Juliette says. On top of that, she’s teaching her 20-year-old son about entrepreneurship by partnering with him as her Co-Host.

    Inclusivity starts with your hosting style

    Juliette’s learned a thing or two about hosting over the years, and she always tries to focus on staying educated as she welcomes guests. Here are her top suggestions for promoting inclusivity:   

    • Join a Host group. “Don't just go out there on your own,” Juliette says. “There’s a network of Hosts who have been in your position—willing to help guide you in your journey, provide advice, and move you past your skepticism. It's much easier to host than it was a long time ago.”
    • Do your research. “Use the resources at your disposal,” Juliette says. “Airbnb provides this information for you, but there’s also a lot of other resources out there. There’s a lot more available now than before.”
    • Develop your hosting style. As you begin to host, have a sense of where you’re going. “Have a definition of what you want to achieve at Airbnb,” Juliette suggests. “How would you like to be treated if you were the guest? What is your niche? What can you do differently? How do you want guests to remember you? Create a plan.”
    • Give back to your community. If you’re helping others, you’re more likely to be inclusive and involved. “Once you’ve established yourself as a Host and developed your niche, find ways to give back and support other Hosts,” Juliette says. “I currently support women right now with hosting.”   
    • Prioritize safety. “It's very important to me that I feel safe as a Black woman,” Juliette says. “Develop trust with your guest—that's crucial to your ability to protect them.” Juliette also helps guests navigate transportation in her area. “I know that traveling alone or even with others in a new place can be a scary experience,” she says. “I use my knowledge of the city, my home, and the guests to create the safest experience possible.”

    A place where everyone belongs

    As a Black Host who regularly welcomes guests from around the world, Juliette knows how important it is to foster a feeling of inclusivity and belonging. Over the past six years since she began hosting, she’s learned a lot about how to make her guests feel welcome. Here are her top hosting tips: 

    • Tell your story through your listing. Identify what makes you and your listing unique, and share that in your Host profile and listing. "Include all the details of what makes you and your listing special, and be clear about what they can expect,” Juliette says. “It’s another way to connect with you.”
    • Turn on Instant Book. It’s important to Juliette to treat all of her guests equally, which starts by choosing to turn on Instant Book. Though Hosts can't access profile photos until after a booking is complete, discrimination is often based on perception—and people may develop a perception of someone's race from things like first names. Instant Book removes those variables from the booking process.
    • Communicate early and often. “I’ll usually start the process by asking what the guest needs, what I can expect, what time they’re coming, what I can do for them, and how I can make their experience better,” Juliette says. Her house manual fills in the gaps. “I also provide a manual to help them navigate my space and avoid surprises. Over-communicating can prevent a lot of issues.”
    • Provide a personal welcome. “I treat every guest as someone special,” Juliette says. “I include name tags of each guest and provide personalized treatment to each individual guest. I also make sure I receive my guests in person unless I’m not around.” Providing the same welcoming treatment for all guests can help to limit bias, promote inclusion, and ensure everyone feels comfortable.  
    • Pay attention to guests’ needs. “I host guests of all cultures and backgrounds, and they all have different needs, expectations, and experiences,” Juliette says. “I listen to everything they say, and ask additional questions if I'm unclear.” For example, she often hosts Kenyan travelers who live in other countries and have come back home to visit. “I often help them get reacquainted with Nairobi,” she says.  

    More resources to promote inclusivity

    As a Host, you know how important it is to confront and dismantle your own inherent bias, so you can continue to provide the same kind of hospitality to all of your guests, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what they look like, for example. 

    So we’d like to share a few resources we’ve found helpful in our continued journey to promote activism and allyship throughout our community. 

    We want to continue the conversation about inclusivity, so we hope you’ll post about your own experiences hosting on Airbnb in our Community Center and the resources and tips that have helped you the most to create a space where everyone belongs.

    Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.
    Airbnb
    Mar 4, 2021
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