A recent data by Airbnb, an online company that operates market space for homestays, stated that women make up a significant portion of its host community in India.
As of August 11 this year, new women hosts in India with one listing have earned almost 30 million since the start of the pandemic and women make up almost 30 percent of the entire Indian host community. The data also revealed that Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Jaipur are the top five cities in India with the highest number of women hosts. Ladakh is the latest inclusion in the list.
Actor Mandira Bedi recently became a host by putting up her Madh Island, Mumbai villa on the popular travel platform. Her four-bedroom villa has a swimming pool and was earlier available for shootings. “I believe women should choose to challenge every boundary and every obstacle that comes their way that says they ‘can’t’ do something’,” Bedi said during an interaction.
Darshana Jadhav started hosting guests in 2016 at her place in Kandivali, Mumbai. For her, the initial reason was to meet new people and earn some money. “I have a huge place and I love traveling. I stayed in a homestay in Pondicherry. It inspired me to be a host. I ensure every guest at my place feels comfortable and leaves with memories. I make sure to make each person feel at home while travelling,” says Jadhav.
Puja Mehta has been hosting guests in her three-bedroom house in Goregaon, Mumbai, since 2018. Her natural flair for hosting makes her an incredibly sought-after host.
A single woman living with her three pets, Mehta feels that every guest gives her an opportunity to make friends with different people. “All my guests are now my friends. I had guests from many countries before the pandemic and I have visited many of them. For me, it is also about having someone in the house,” says Mehta, who is a writer.
Through home-sharing, women hosts significantly augment their earnings and some women entrepreneurs have become full-time home hosts.
Delhi-based Sumeeta Saxena Sahay is the owner of a three-bedroom house in a plush area of Dwarka, Delhi. She lets out her one AC room to guests travelling from across the world. Her room has an attached bathroom, a beautiful shelf full of books and magazines.
Guests get to eat homemade breakfast. “Both my children have settled abroad. All my relatives would say I am a very good host so I thought of hosting new people. I become their family even if a guest is staying for just one day. More than money, I do it for my happiness and to meet new people. At times, if the guest is staying for a long time, my husband would recite poetry for them. I never treat them like outsiders,” says 56-year-old Sahay.
However, for Khushali Bargotra whose profile reads Leo on this American hosting company, it is more about earning money. Her two-bedroom apartment in Kandivali, Mumbai has two cats and a comfortable big room for guests.
Khushali from Haryana started hosting guests after quitting her job in a media house. “There was a time when I was at home and wasn’t earning. I decided to rent one room but it would have disturbed my privacy. So, I decided to have guests at home, which is more convenient,” says Bargotra, adding that she has become a full-time host.
“I keep my financial terms clear but I ensure that guests have no problem. I live alone in the city but I never feel insecure when a guest is staying in the house. I am friends with many of my guests,” she says.
Pankaj Kumar, who travels extensively, says he likes staying at places that are hosted by women. “It’s more comfortable. I think they are naturally good hosts since they look after the entire house and family. So, they ensure their guests are comfortable. I travel a lot and mostly I stay in homestays or hostels. In my experience, women make better hosts than men. They look after everything personally unlike men who are mostly transactional hosts,” says Kumar.