With the current state of American politics (left/right, rural/urban, red/blue, rich/poor, etc.), I'm seeking some very open and honest discussions asking whether guests (including traveling hosts) would hesitate or purposefully refuse to stay at an Airbnb in a small town for fear of staying with a potentially unfriendly, even hostile, host. Honestly preferred, please.
Let's assume that an individual or family elects to drive from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts, taking in a few days to enjoy the scenery by traveling on two-lane roads through smaller cities and towns. Let's further assume that the individual is BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ and/or politically progressive. Would this individual or family hesitate in ANY way to stay in a small town? If so, why? (I can guess, but I'd prefer not to.)
This question also applies to a very conservative individual or family that would hesitate or refuse to stay with a host that may be BIPOC, LGBTQ+ or politically progressive.
Last year I ran across placeism, defined as "discriminatory practices against a locality or geographic location." I suggest extending this definition as "discriminatory practices against any individual or group living in or coming from a locality or geographic location." There are certainly dozens of other discriminatory practices of more importance than placeism, but it may be simply unaddressed currently.
Airbnb has been leading the charge against racism by hosts who may not book a room to someone of another color, orientation or same-sex relationship. I'm curious whether there may be guests who may choose to stay in a chain motel or large city instead of staying at an Airbnb in a small town or rural area.
Thanks in advance for your honest replies.
@Jim1373 I have had guests complain about political signs in yards as they drove to my space. There is a guy down the street with a big sign and stuffed model of one of the presidential candidates in his business parking lot. Guests have taken exception. Guests have complained about the TV being turned to one news channel or another when they clicked on the remote (I now turn it to HGTV each time I do turnover.) This has come from both ends of the political spectrum.
So yes, I think there are probably some people who don't choose to stay with us because of some assumption about the area.
@Emilia42 we moved out of DC where we had lived for a long time to get away from some of this. Our immediate area is not so bad. The area around our Airbnb is just kind of a "don't ask/don't tell" when it comes to divisive politics. But our guests come from all over, and many come from parts of the region where these questions are really taken seriously. It can be super annoying. I really really really don't want to talk to anyone about politics.
I know quite a few residents of Lindsborg and to be safe, we don't talk about politics. I can usually infer what their stances might be on the hot button topics of the day. My tricks of the trade include: 1) avoid using the word "you" 2) suggest political points as "I remember reading that..." 3) changing the topic and 4) internally refusing to engage in the outrage culture. That's just me and it's worked very well so far.
That said, please consider visiting the Heartland. There are dozens of regional destinations that Airbnb doesn't even begin to recognize. I can pass along some suggestions, if interested.
@Jim1373 Interesting question, but I kind of doubt that guests would give this much weight. If they like to use Airbnbs while travelling, I don't know that they wouldn't for this reason. Some hosts even make a point in their photo gallery of including some sign they may have in their home or yard which makes their beliefs clear (along the lines of all being welcome regardless of race, gender, sexual inclination, etc., or may say something in their listing wording.
Guests or hosts can encounter prejudice or someone trying to foist their beliefs on them anywhere. Some hosts have had guests who left stacks of religious brochures behind them. I think most hosts would just find it mildly amusing and chuck them in the recycle bin, but I remember reading a post where the host was Muslim and the guests had left a bunch of Christian brochures, which the host felt was quite disrespectful and I would have to agree.
Personally I wouldn't want to put my money in the pockets of bigots, but I'm well aware that the Midwest US, and even the deep south is not populated by people who all hold the same beliefs or political persuation.
Yes, I agree that political leaning shouldn't be part of a guest's decision to stay in a small town.
As an example, Kansas is very "red" but not completely red. In Lindsborg, I know plenty of Republicans, big D democrats, progressives and certainly democratic socialists who are fed up with the former president.
I suggest looking over the attached map of the New York Times "An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2020 Election" covering 43 states, that shows that no matter where you live, your neighbors and friends have voted for the "other white guy." https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/upshot/2020-election-map.html
I contend that most travelers going through the Heartland of the USofA have virtually no idea what to do there. Without that information, some guests might default to a stereotype and avoid staying in a small town, just to be sure. But rest assured that there is plenty to do in the Heartland, just not the same as metropolitan areas or tourist destinations or National Parks.
For Kanas, I suggest the Kansas Guidebook 2 weighing in over 2 pounds.
@Jim1373 I was born in Kansas City and raised just over the state line in Overland Park, Kansas. I left the US when I was 17 and have never lived there again.
My parents were the children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. My household was most certainly not Republican and I used to spend a lot if my time as an older teenager at the KC art gallery. My friends and I would also go hang out at the airport. We were so tired of white bread America and liked seeing people from all over, dressed in saris and other non-American attire, and dreaming of the day we finished high school and could go experience other cultures.
Thanks for sharing your background, @Sarah977 Here's my opinion (not a great one) regarding my "placeism" for Mexico. Sayulita like many destinations appears to be a seaside resort. For us "white bread Americans" visiting Mexico equates to the large handful of popular destinations on the Yucatan, Baja and along the Pacific coast where many "white bread Americans" get toasted by the sun and alcohol. But omits so many other regional destinations in the Mexico that are overlooked or simply not considered.
Interesting question. I don't have any issue with political leanings. But I abhor racism, anti-semitism and homophobia. I will say I don't travel to many small towns but can tell you that I have encountered numerous displays of Confederate Flags in upstate NY. I didn't realize it was a "thing" in NYS until my kids went to sleepaway camp. Fortunately, they had a safe stay. One is heading off to college and although I would save a lot of money with a State school, it looks unlikely that I would let him enroll due to the climate in many upstate NY communities. That being said, I would book a stay in a small town a lot quicker than one in upstate NY.
Thanks @Ann783 for sharing your experiences in upstate NY. I've never been there. Brian Chesky's hometown is Niskayuna, in Schenectady County - is that upstate? I'd like to know why someone feels that displaying a Confederate flag is tolerated. I grew up in "white bread" Midwest, but could never understand racism. It makes absolutely no rational sense. So perhaps it grows from a twisted combination of ignorance, habit, very negative emotions and more. I'm probably getting this way wrong.
Like I have insinuated a million times here, politics has no business weaving into hosting, since hosting is what we do and what we do have in common. It has unnecessary risk written all over it especially when dealing with guests; I rather not know what their politics are or how it influenced their decision.
Besides, how others think has little effect on me; I treat all people one to one and always at eye level. Whenever a guest tries to 'test the political waters' or pass some political or social stand on me I change the conversation and make believe I didn't hear it. I am a host, not a porter on some hotel that has to deal with anyone else's 'baggage'.
There is a reason for this, if anyone were to ever push me into a corner, they wouldn't come away too 'convinced' or 'comfortable' in their thinking, so it is best not to even go there.
"Politics has no business weaving into hosting." Well said @Fred13 ! As hosts we provide "accommodations" for our guests, but we shouldn't "accommodate" their political beliefs, even if we happen to agree.
In my experience, I'm not that interested in someone's political statments as much as why they embrace them. Since none of us are born with any inkling of politics, these views are absorbed from our family, community, friends, acquaintances and other experiences.