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    Get to know the Host Advisory Board: Omar Covarrubias

    Find out how he adapted during COVID-19 and get updates from January meetings.
    By Airbnb on Feb 16, 2021
    4 min read
    Updated Feb 25, 2021

    Highlights

    • After being laid off, Omar decided to become a host on Airbnb

    • During the pandemic, Omar focused on connecting with hosts and adapting to travel trends

    • As a member of Airbnb’s Host Advisory Board, he’s sharing news from January’s board meetings

    • Stay up to date on the Advisory Board’s progress in 2021

    With 17 members from 14 countries and five continents, the Host Advisory Board includes diverse hosts who’ll relay the interests of the global host community for Airbnb’s consideration in planning and decision-making in 2021. Each month we’re highlighting an Advisory Board member and sharing the latest updates from the board.

    When Omar Covarrubias was laid off from his IT job in 2018 after the company reorganized, he wondered what would come next. He’d spent his entire career working in IT and telecommunications, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep doing the same thing.

    After Omar talked with his wife, the couple decided to use their savings to invest in an apartment in the Coyoacán area of Mexico City, where they live. 

    Initially, the apartment was going to be a long-term rental, until they heard about Airbnb. Once they realized they could host people from all over the world, they wanted to create spaces inspired by Mexican culture and traditions.

    The couple started welcoming guests in September 2018. They enjoyed being hosts so much that they acquired a second apartment to list on Airbnb in April 2019.

    Then the pandemic hit. “All of a sudden, we received this wave of massive cancellations,” Omar says.

    Adapting to the unexpected

    Despite not having guests for eight months because of COVID-19, Omar was still committed to his hospitality business—just in new ways. “Even during difficult times, you need to reinvent yourself,” Omar says.

    His wife was optimistic that travel would eventually resume, so he decided to focus on connecting with hosts. Through Airbnb Mexico, Omar was able to meet other hosts and community leaders.   

    Now Omar is a coordinator for a Mexico City home-sharing club and a member of a group for host leaders in Latin America. He is also a member of Alianza Nacional de Anfitriones, an alliance independently created by more than 12 hosts from clubs in different parts of Mexico to promote fair regulations in home sharing.

    “Building community, connecting with people, listening to people, educating yourself, and learning from the experts, I think these were my key takeaways from the pandemic,” he says.

    Omar’s commitment to connecting with hosts didn’t go unnoticed. He received an award from Airbnb Mexico for being the host most committed to building community.

    Finding a new passion

    Omar was eager to share his experience and knowledge with other hosts. Through Airbnb’s how-to-host webinars, he encouraged people to try something new and start hosting. “With the how-to-host webinars, I feel reenergized,” Omar says.

    Through the training, Omar shared new insights on what travelers are looking for during COVID-19 and answered questions about hosting.

    “I now have my passion,” Omar says. “My passion is to train, coach, and mentor new hosts, because I want them to be successful.”

    As the facilitator of the Advisory Board’s host empowerment committee, he’s excited to continue this work.

    Improving the experience for hosts—and guests

    In addition to supporting new hosts, Omar is also an advocate for using technology to make hosting and traveling easier.

    For example, when Omar didn’t have bookings for months during the pandemic, he created virtual 3D tours of both apartments. Not only do the tours allow guests to better understand where everything is, they also help create more realistic expectations before arrival.

    Omar also has plenty of ideas for improvements to the guidebook and house manual. For example, a digital copy of the house manual could include videos explaining how to use appliances like the coffee maker or washing machine. And to make it even easier on guests (and save hosts time), QR codes around the property could help guests access the videos right when they need them.

    What the Host Advisory Board is working on

    The Advisory Board spent January immersed in learning sessions focused on their new roles and responsibilities. Because this is the first group of Host Advisory Board members, they established a process to help support the host community in a meaningful way.

    One of the first steps was to create two teams based on time zones. This will make it easier for the board members to connect with each other as they focus on their goals throughout the year.  

    Creating committees
    As part of the new process, the board launched committees for five key areas based on input from the host community, including diversity and belonging, sustainability, and host empowerment.

    Each of the 17 board members will be actively involved in at least one committee, serving as a committee facilitator or member. Right now they're focused on identifying key areas for committees to focus on, creating measurable outcomes, and getting direct input from host leaders around the world.

    Engaging with the host community
    The Advisory Board is using the Community Center as its main communication channel with hosts, and board members will take turns serving as the point of contact for Community Center conversations.

    In addition, the board will also directly engage with community leads on a monthly basis to help make sure Airbnb’s home-sharing clubs on social media are kept up to date.

    Omar says the Host Advisory Board is committed to providing Airbnb with honest and transparent feedback, as well as fresh ideas for how to improve hosting. One of his goals is to “crystallize the valuable input from our host community into actionable items.”

    Stay tuned for more from the Host Advisory Board. We’ll be sharing updates from the board’s monthly meeting, along with tips from board members.

    Information contained in this article may have changed since publication. 

    Highlights

    • After being laid off, Omar decided to become a host on Airbnb

    • During the pandemic, Omar focused on connecting with hosts and adapting to travel trends

    • As a member of Airbnb’s Host Advisory Board, he’s sharing news from January’s board meetings

    • Stay up to date on the Advisory Board’s progress in 2021
    Airbnb
    Feb 16, 2021
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