We’re excited to continue the New Orleans host story summer series. The home sharing community in New Orleans has democratized travel and facilitated a more authentic experience. This allows travelers to live like locals and brings economic gains to hosts—as well as to businesses that haven’t always benefited from tourism and hospitality. Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing members of the Airbnb host community and small business owners from all over the city.
“Airbnb is expanding interest in our city, and in this area,” says Arleen Cracco, 77, a retired New Orleans native and current resident of Faubourg St. John. “When people stay here, they say, ‘I had no idea this neighborhood was here! I always stay in the French Quarter.’ But we have so much to offer. I just love this city, and it’s so nice to share it and see other people enjoy it as well.”
Arleen rents out three bedrooms in her five-bedroom “double” home; the layout allows guests to maintain their privacy with a separate entrance and amenities. Arleen and her sister lived in the house after Hurricane Katrina. When her sister passed away, she thought, “We have this beautiful, fully furnished home in a terrific part of the city. I could sell it and move, or start hosting and generate income to cover my expenses so that I can continue to live here. It was not a hard choice: Airbnb was the ideal thing to do.”
While the income she earns by hosting is vital to Arleen’s ability to stay in her home, she says she also enjoys her guests. “99% of the people coming through since I started have been absolutely great,” she says. “I think people are respectful because they know it’s someone’s home.”
Arleen says Faubourg St. John is a hidden treasure. “In a way, this neighborhood is less grand but more interesting than the better-known French and Creole parts of the city,” she says. “A lot of our blocks have some Caribbean influence, and we have some of the oldest houses in the area. We’re centrally-located, chock full of really great neighborhood restaurants, and within walking distance you’ll find the New Orleans Botanical Garden, New Orleans Museum of Art and City Park, one of the grandest parks around, and now you can get our world famous beignets and coffee there.”
Arleen says she’s taken the initiative to talk with her neighbors about home sharing. “I say to them, ‘I don’t want to move! Hosting is keeping me in my house.’ I ask if they’ve ever had any noise or parking problems with my guests, and they always say no. There are a lot of people here who are reaching my age and don’t need their full home anymore. They can either sell their house and move—which most don’t want to do—or they can make more use of it, and give travelers a good experience. I think it’s a perfect solution.”