Julie and Jeff McKnight welcomed me into their home on a rainy Sunday morning, and right away I know why people rave about staying here, the two make quite a pair. They’re young, well-traveled people, and the conversation flows easily between us. For the past year they have been part of Airbnb, a service that allows out of town travelers to stay as guests in local homes.
What made you guys want to get started using Airbnb?
Jeff: “I had never heard of it. Julie found it on another blog or website, but it was really small at that point. It’s really grown a lot in the past year. She randomly mentioned we had a spare room and what I thought about having people rent it out. We had a hit within the first week. And from there we started hosting probably a few times a month, to several times a month, to half of the week.”
Were there any fears going into this?
Julie: “Absolutely. Everybody always asks us, ‘Aren’t you scared if someone is going to be crazy or steal your stuff in the middle of the night?’ Airbnb is based on a shared economy so you just have to trust it.”
Jeff: “And the people that use Airbnb are the people that are into recycling, local beer and local food. They want a local’s perspective.”
What are the types of things you recommend people do when they come to stay in Memphis?
Julie: “We really do pick local places like Cheesecake Corner, Just For Lunch, the Arcade. We’re not going to send someone to Carrabba’s when they can get that anywhere.”
Jeff: “I like to think if I wasn’t from Memphis, where would I want to go.”
Julie: “Central Barbecue and The Bar-B-Q Shop are the two barbecue places that we recommend. Everyone wants to know that. As far as things to do, we tell them The Civil Rights Museum, Graceland, and Sun Studio. We find that most people come here for music.”
Jeff: “A lot of people that stay with us are coming to or from New Orleans.”
Julie: “The King still lives and he’s bringing in more people!”
Have you made friends through Airbnb?
Julie: “Yes, over the summer a girl stayed with us from New York. Then, when we went to New York this fall we visited her and she took us to lunch. We’ve had people stay with us from Australia and Europe that want us to come stay with them. That’s a lot harder to get to than New York.”
Is it ever awkward having random people stay in your home?
Jeff: “98% of our guests have been great. Some just don’t want to hang out.”
Julie: “You don’t travel to stay in your hotel room. If they’re out, around, talking, and doing stuff, we feel more at home and comfortable. It seems that a younger crowd really uses Airbnb.”
Jeff: “They’re people in their 20’s to 40’s mainly.”
Why would you recommend being a host to other people?
Julie: “We’ve had conversations with people we never would have had before. Also the money really helps. If anyone needs extra income it helps us pay for the mortgage and helps get Jeff through school.”
Jeff: “We both love to travel. When we’re at home, school, work, it’s a normal week. It’s fun to have people from all over the world stay with us; it kind of gives us a taste of travel.”
Interested in signing up to host guests with Airbnb? Create an account then go here.