Airbnb says Thai senior citizens among most loved hosts

Tech-savvy travelers have an image as young and hip globetrotters, but in Thailand senior citizens are the most avid users of Airbnb, and rated among the most-loved hosts by other users, the American start-up travel accommodation website said last week.

Airbnb defines seniors as people 60 years or older, and in Thailand, there are currently almost 1,500 senior hosts on Airbnb, representing a year-on-year increase of more than 26 percent, the company said. Meanwhile, senior guests from Thailand increased by 62 percent last year.

That is a higher proportion of guests who are seniors than from any other country. Japan ranked second in senior guests and the United States third. Thai senior Airbnb guests booked stays in Phuket and Chiang Mai more than any other locations.

“Perhaps it’s no surprise we’re seeing such strong growth in this demographic,” said Greg Greeley, an Airbnb executive. “Seniors are healthier and wealthier than they’ve ever been, and tend to take more and longer trips than other age groups.”

Thailand’s almost 1,500 senior hosts on Airbnb earned about $9 million in total last year welcoming over 52,000 guests into their homes, the company said.

Even more impressive is that they ranked among the most loved hosts in the world with more than 83 percent of reviews of senior hosts receiving five stars. Senior hosts are the best-rated host age-group in Thailand.

“Known for their renowned welcoming hospitality and as avid world travelers, it’s not surprising that seniors in Thailand are aging meaningfully by embracing the home-sharing community,” said Siew Kum Hong, Airbnb regional director for Asia and the Pacific.

Hospitality is an essential part of traditional Thai culture. The first Western travelers to what were then the Kingdoms of Ayutthaya and later Siam regularly commented on the welcoming nature of the Thai people. That nature contributed to Thailand’s emergence as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations during the past few decades.

“At an overall level, when people that have traveled to Thailand use words to describe the people they encounter while there, they use words such as ‘friendly’ and ‘helpful.’ So, generally speaking, it seems that we are dealing with a culture that has a foundation for hospitality,’’ said a Cornell University webpage on Thailand.