The founder of the only ‘gay Airbnb’ speaks outby Mattia Rosini - 2014.10.10
How and why was Misterbnb founded? The first website, which helps gay tourists find holiday accommodation, was set up in just three months and already has more than 10,000 listings in 130 different countries. In Italy alone it has 29 pages with more than 500 apartments.
We spoke on the phone to the site's founder, Frenchman Matthieu Jost. He's not new to such projects, having already launched Mygaytrip, a 'tripadvisor' site for the LGBT community. Misterbnb works exactly like any other website: you type in the city, the required dates and number of guests, to then check for availability. There's one difference, though: this is the first – and only – openly gay-friendly website of its kind.
“It all began with a holiday in Barcelona three years ago,” says Matthieu. “My partner and I had booked a room in a shared apartment because we like meeting new people on our travels. But the owner of the house wasn't expecting a gay couple, she welcomed us very badly and felt completely uncomfortable... it was so bad that we decided to go back to Paris the next day. But it made me think it would be helpful for gay couples to be able to find a welcoming environment when they travel, so I began working on the new site.”
“Our website is clearly gay-friendly,” he continues. “So even heterosexuals who place an advert automatically accept that their guests can be gay and lesbian couples or single. This is the premise and there's no need for any further checks on our part.”
It's interesting to note that some countries aren't renowned for their tolerance towards the LGBT community, such as Russia, Serbia or some Arab nations. “It's precisely in these places that Misterbnb is most important,” says Matthieu. “Many gay people live in these countries, they know the local places to go to and can provide a useful base for tourists.” After all, gay tourism is a rapidly growing market. “In Europe, the most popular destinations are Barcelona, Paris and London while, further afield, New York has the most lively scene. It's definitely an expanding market and Tel Aviv has recently become a favourite too, but every year there's a new 'hot' destination.”
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