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    Get to know the Host Advisory Board: Susan Bailey

    Learn how her side hustle became a business and get the board's plans for 2021.
    By Airbnb on Jan 13, 2021
    4 min read
    Updated Jan 19, 2021


    • Thanks to an idea from her children, Susan started hosting on Airbnb

    • She was able to help support her extended family with the income and find a new career

    • As a member of Airbnb’s Host Advisory Board, she's sharing what the board has planned for this year

    With 17 members from 14 countries and five continents, the Host Advisory Board includes diverse hosts who’ll relay the interests of the global host community for Airbnb planning and decision-making in 2021. Each month we’re highlighting an Advisory Board member and sharing the latest updates from the board.

    Susan Bailey became a host on Airbnb by accident. She and her husband kept their first home in Long Beach, California, after they moved to Denver, Colorado, just in case they changed their minds.

    While Susan and her husband ended up staying in Colorado, they kept their Southern California home and rented it to the same couple for 19 years. When that couple left the area to purchase their own home, Susan embarked on renovating the property so her family could enjoy it when they visited relatives in Long Beach. “I really never intended to rent it,” she says.

    But then Susan’s father became ill, and her mom needed financial support to cover the cost of his care. Her son and daughter pitched the idea of listing the Long Beach home and the casita behind it on Airbnb and providing the income to Susan’s mom.

    Little did Susan know that this would spark a side hustle that’d eventually allow her to leave her tech job to focus more on her new passion for hospitality.

    Read on to learn more about Susan’s experience as a host, her position on the Host Advisory Board, and what the board is planning for the coming year.

    Finding joy in a new career

    “My small effort focused on helping my dad and my mother spawned a little business,” Susan says. The Long Beach home and the casita behind it were so popular that Susan and her husband purchased another property in Seattle for their daughter to live in, which had a cottage behind it that they could list on Airbnb.

    Although hosting properties in California and Washington was going smoothly, Susan hadn’t really thought about getting involved in short-term rentals in Colorado. “Then I began renovating houses for other people—one for a relative and one for a friend,” she says. “Each of them live in the house on the property, and they have a secondary unit. I helped get those up and running, and I manage them.”

    Ultimately, Susan decided to give up a successful 33-year-career as a sales and marketing executive in the tech industry to focus on her properties on Airbnb. “My daughter says, ‘Mom, your side hustle became your hustle.’ And honestly, what I do now brings me more joy than I could have imagined—and I absolutely loved my career.”

    Helping others during times of crisis

    “I had just finished remodeling a beautiful home in Colorado for my daughter, who was relocating from Seattle to Denver,” Susan says. “I got a call from a guy at Airbnb, and he asked if I could welcome a guest from Yemen the next morning. He had been persecuted in his country for being gay.”

    Even though Susan was still having the appliances installed, she was happy to participate in Airbnb’s Open Homes program, which has now transitioned to, a nonprofit that connects people with places to stay during times of crisis.

    “That started the journey of hosting seven refugee families from five different countries over a period of six months, all of whom we still stay in touch with,” Susan says. “This may have been the single most fulfilling experience I have had as a host. I have learned and grown so much through their enormously challenging journeys to rebuild their lives while seeking safety and freedom.”

    Getting to know the other Advisory Board members

    “I love the mix of interesting people from all different countries and cultures embracing and serving so many different guests,” Susan says.

    Though each member brings unique experiences and goals to the group, Susan hopes the Advisory Board can create a unified host voice that will help impact policy through conversations with Airbnb executives.

    “There are things we see in changing guest needs that could be really meaningful when shared in a multicultural fashion,” she says.

    What the Host Advisory Board has planned

    Susan is currently on three nonprofit boards, and now she’s excited to take on her new role as a member of Airbnb’s first Host Advisory Board.

    “I believe in setting lofty but achievable goals and in accomplishing big things,” Susan says. “I think we need to really reach and do something very big here.”

    Here’s what the board has planned in the coming year:

    • Creating committees focused on key areas such as sustainability, diversity and belonging, and host empowerment with new tools and education
    • Updating hosts every month on plans and activities
    • Fostering interactive communication with the host community
    • Sharing an active role in representing a diverse set of hosts voices and helping to shape the future of the Airbnb community

    Stay tuned for more from the Host Advisory Board. We’ll be sharing updates from the board’s monthly meeting, along with tips from board members.

    Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.


    • Thanks to an idea from her children, Susan started hosting on Airbnb

    • She was able to help support her extended family with the income and find a new career

    • As a member of Airbnb’s Host Advisory Board, she's sharing what the board has planned for this year

    Jan 13, 2021
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