When Rachel Sugg first heard about Airbnb doing well in Jackson, she was skeptical.
She, like many others, associated Airbnb with young people and vacation destinations. However, since she and her husband incorporated Airbnb into their real estate business two years ago along with their long-term rentals, her view of who Airbnb serves has changed.
The Sugg’s placed their first short term rental unit on Airbnb in April of 2017. From then on, it had been booked, and kept booked.
Two years, three units and 500 people later, Airbnb has turned out to be more profitable for the Suggs then their numerous long-term rentals. And Rachel’s view of Airbnb’s main consumer is different than before.
The majority of those staying in the Sugg’s locations, Rachel has noticed, have turned out to be working class, blue-color individuals, who are, for the most part, coming to Jackson for work related reasons, or college students and their parents.
Rachel believes that an important draw to Airbnb is not only the price, but the fact that visitors can have a one-on-one experience with their host. With Airbnb, there is always someone local to call who is familiar enough with the area to give an expert recommendation. Having someone so close at hand to act as a personal ambassador to Jackson, changes the whole experience of coming here, into something personal.
Not only does the personal experience Airbnb hosts provide change negative views of Jackson, but it brings people to the city as well. In her experience, Rachel has had guests change their stays from one night in Jackson, to two days, or more after having a great experience that first evening. Or, in some cases, people who have come to the area for an appointment in Madison have stayed in Jackson at one of the Sugg’s three Airbnbs, because they there was no Airbnb available in Madison.
Airbnb travelers generally have a different idea of traveling than others might, even if they are traveling for work. Rachel says they tend to be more laid back. They want to get a real feel for the area, not just the touristy version. They want to experience the culture. They want to get to know where they are, not just travel through, staying one night at a hotel then leaving the next morning.
Rachel has found that the benefits Airbnb provides to the Jackson community are numerous; it draws people in, changes minds about Jackson and Mississippi, incentivizes the upkeep of property, brings money into Jackson and the surrounding area, and not only exposes visitors to Jackson but exposes Jackson residents and their neighbors to completely new people.
It is an experience. And, according to Rachel, it’s good for Jackson.