Good evidence of how far Airbnb has come is the emergence of the term “mom and pop” Airbnb host. Though not used formally by Airbnb, the phrase has become a shorthand for a regular person who rents out their own home or apartment occasionally, perhaps when they themselves are out of town or when they are willing to sleep on their own couch to earn some cash.
That the modern lexicon attaches a nostalgic sheen to hosts using the platform as it was originally intended to be used is telling. These days Airbnb is regularly accused of being too “professionalized,” or riddled with commercially-motivated operators running informal hotels (some of them in compliance with city regulations, some very much not). These hosts rarely interact with guests, the critique goes, and are far from providing the ideal of a “live like a local” experience that Airbnb itself popularized. The professionalization of Airbnb is also implicated in making housing unaffordable for locals by encouraging landlords to rent homes to an endless parade of short-term guests, at higher rates than they could charge longer-term tenants.
That the modern lexicon attaches a nostalgic sheen to hosts using the platform as it was originally intended to be used is telling. So has Airbnb lost its soul? One way to assess that would be to ask: What percentage of total listings on Airbnb are hosts with a single listing? What percentage of hosts have more than five? But when Quartz asked a company spokesperson this, we got no clear answer. He noted only that the company is seeing “more professional hospitality entrepreneurs join our community precisely because they want to access our global network of hosts and guests and deliver the kind of high-quality, unique experience guests have come to expect.”