About me: Hello, I am Jeet and I started hosting 3 years ago and since then, Airbnb has become an integral part of my life. Having hosted more than 500 guests from around the word, I have become more caring, patient and organized. Hosting and helping guests unwind and create memories gives me immense pleasure and maybe for the same reason, Airbnb India awarded me a Host Award in 2016 for helping shape stronger communities.
If you wish to know more about me, feel free to follow me on social media, my ID on most platforms is: jeet91
But the biggest story of my hosting experience, I am sharing with you today below. Hope you enjoy reading it.
The Wadkar family looks after our small holiday home in Panchgani, a beautiful hill station near Pune, India. 3 years ago, due to rising maintenance costs, we were about to sell off our lovely home but that meant leaving the Wadkars unemployed. After exploring multiple options to keep our place, we decided to list our place on Airbnb and that was the beginning of the most beautiful journey for all of us.
When we got our first booking, we had tried our best to deliver a 5 star experience, right from adding all essentials to leaving sticky notes with messages for our guest, we had done it all. When our guest left, she had a positive experience overall but one thing that was a highlight for her was the delicious home cooked food which she kept raving about. We had a functioning kitchen that guests could use, but the Wadkars had helped her with some cooking on her request and she fell in love with the authentic flavours. A few more guests who stayed at our place thereafter had a similar experience and they went gaga about the food when I called them post checkin for a feedback call. At this point I saw an opportunity to help the Wadkars become micro-entrepreneurs too, just like me.
I sat with them and we designed a small home-food menu with reasonable pricing and added it to our listing photos. I instantly saw a rise in bookings as our's was one of the few places that offered this added amenity of on demand fresh home cooked authentic food. All profits from this went directly to the Wadkars which motivated them to offer excellent service to guests and this led to steady rise in my rating and booking rate. Almost all our reviews raved about the scrumptious food made by the Wadkars. I believe the secret ingredient was not the organic spices or fresh produce but LOVE. The Wadkars come from a very small village near our place from extremely humble backgrounds. They aren't professionally trained in house-keeping or guest-care and the only Indian Mantra that they traditionally follow is "Mehmaan Bhagwaan samaan hote hai", which translates to "Guests are the closest form of God". This teaching is greater than any other lesson one could learn in any Hospitality Institute.
The additional income that the Wadkars received helped Wadkars improve their quality of living and we started helping them plan the investments for a secure future. The income that we got from Airbnb was more than what we needed for the maintenance so we thought of adding the excess towards their daughters' education. The school drop-out rate is very high in rural India and we wanted to do our every bit to ensure that the 2 sisters remained in school so we started financing a part of their education using the Airbnb payouts. Today both the girls are going to school and are very bright students excelling in academics and extra curricular activities; they have dreams and aspirations which earlier were limited as early girl-child marriages are prominent in rural areas and in most cases, the girls end up being homemakers or daily wage labours. The Wadkars are proud parents of these smart kids who help them with reading English and calculating the food bills. We are more than happy that we have been able to improve the lives of 2 girls using the Airbnb platform.
As years went by, we were able to increase the monthly fees that we paid the Wadkars and today they are proud owners of their independent house in their village as well as a scooter that helps in quick transportation to the far away market to buy fresh produce for our guests. Never in our dreams had we imagined that we would be able to support our Caretakers to this extent. Today, they are happy that they have a secured future, with retirement funding plan and two brilliant daughters with a future brighter than earlier.
All this was possible due to the excellent online infrastucture and customer support that Airbnb provided as well as the continous gaidance that I received from fellow hosts from around the globe via the Community Center. I am elated and filled with gratitude as I share this Story with ya'll.
I hope it brings a smile on your face and inspires other hosts to give back to the community whenever possible in their own way.
cc @Lizzie - Hey Lizzie, I hope you like my story. Just wanted to flag that stories on CC are not loading nor was I able to post there, I tried different browsers too. Have already flagged it via the feedback form, but keeping you posted in case you can escalate it.
What joy! You are an inspiration to us all. Very touching and demonstrates the positive outcomes that having a sense of purpose can bring forth. Best wishes to you and the Wadkar family.
What a heartwarming and wonderful story! Thank you Jeet, for sharing yours, and the Wadkars story with us! Hugely Inspiring :)