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Senior hosts grow exponentially with Airbnb

Senior hosts grow exponentially with Airbnb Ruth Donsky’s grown children moved out of her Toronto home, she looked at their empty bedrooms and spied an opportunity.

“I thought, I’m a little old lady with a house and a garden and two kids’ bedrooms with no one in them,” says Ms. Donsky, 68. “I should be renting them out.”

And that’s what she did, signing up as a host with the home-sharing platform Airbnb to bring in some much needed income to supplement her retirement savings.

“It’s not a lot – this is the first year I’ve made more than $1,000 – but I think it’s a wonderful thing to do in retirement. You get to work from home,” says Ms. Donsky, a former independent school teacher who retired three years ago without a company pension.

The number of Airbnb hosts who are 60-plus years old in Canada. That’s almost 10 per cent of hosts in Canada. 

She rents out rooms for $68 to $90 a night, depending on the season, in her semi-detached residence near Lawrence Avenue and Yonge Street. It’s not a downtown location, and in her first couple of years she had very few guests. But this past summer she had more in one month than all the previous years combined.

The popularity is growing on both ends. Hosts aged 60 and older are Airbnb’s fastest-growing demographic. Senior women make up nearly two-thirds of all senior hosts. They also get the highest ratings from guests.

“Seniors are signing on as hosts at a faster rate than the rest of the population,” says Aaron Zifkin, Airbnb’s Canada country manager. According to surveys done for the company, Airbnb hosts in Canada make an average annual revenue of $6,500.

An older demographic represents a departure from the company’s origins in 2008 as a makeshift bed and breakfast run by a couple of hard-up millennials. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were roommates who supplemented their San Francisco rent by letting out three air mattresses squeezed into their communal living room. read more at