Bringing life to small town America
When you think about using Airbnb, you might be traveling to a college town for a weekend of football or to the beach for a vacation. Small town America is often left out, but there are lots of neat tourist attractions around the country in rural communities without the draw of a big city.
Tourism is often the lifeblood of these small communities. Airbnb is changing the way they look at home-sharing through an innovative concept they call “Samara.”
A foray into urban planning and design
Samara began in rural Japan when an older woman opened her home to visitors. Her neighbors didn’t think anyone would actually visit, but they did.
As business picked up, the community came together to provide hiking guides and translators. More hosts opened their homes because traffic increased so much.
Airbnb executives traveled to Japan and found a need for tourism. Over a period of months, they worked with the community to create a community center where guests could be hosted and fed, where tourists could come together, and where the community could have a central meeting place.
Could this be recreated in the U.S.?
Community has always been an integral part of Japanese culture, which is one element that makes this project work. The community center idea might not be as efficient in rural America, but the idea to boost small town tourism is a good one. Airbnb wouldn’t necessarily have to build a center within each town, just find a group of citizens who wants to encourage tourism by providing rentals, tour guides and translators. Who better than locals know the terrain? What the locals need is an organizing force.
A company who would work with a community to discover how to make it work and replicate their product for another town would certainly benefit every community.
It doesn’t have to be Airbnb, just someone with a heart for aging communities and with great ideas and support while it’s getting off the ground. Many tourists love to explore new towns, but they don’t want the urban experience. Let’s find more revenue streams for the rural communities.