Airbnb for Youth Workers

IDEA: Could we create an airbnb for youth workers?

I’m a big fan of the sharing economy. Services like Airbnb, Über, Craigslist, and Stubhub directly connect people who buy stuff with people who want to develop an interest in business without having to do it full-time.

A couple weeks back I had this little Twitter conversation with Mark Matlock, a fellow youth worker who travels a lot.

The Genesis of an Idea

The Idea

That got me thinking… “You know, I bet we really could work together to set-up something similar to Airbnb?”

If you think about it a lot of youth workers travel for a wide variety of reasons to a lot of places…

  • We go to conferences and we either need a place to stay at the conference… or I know plenty of people who drive far enough where they overnight somewhere.
  • We take students places and often need a cost-effective place to crash.
  • We get away with our leadership teams, often times borrowing space from someone in the church or finding a place on Airbnb, VRBO, or Craigslist.
  • We’re all broke… so we need to go somewhere on vacation and sometimes we just can’t afford to do it.

And there are a lot of youth workers who have space they could make available…

  • I’ve stayed in a lot of guest rooms.
  • I know a fair number of youth workers with guest houses, cottages, or other types of vacation property.
  • Tons of churches would be open to letting other churches utilize their space for traveling youth groups for a small fee.

So what would happen if we created a clearinghouse where these people could find one another?

Similar to Airbnb, we could create something (either a stand-alone website or integrate into something existing) that acted as the middle-man, hosting listings, collecting money, handling payments, setting up policies, offering a level of service.

Obviously, we’d make it so that it self-sustains and doesn’t make anyone rich… it’s just out to connect the dots and make youth workers lives easier. (Or, if you’re a host, you could use it as a way to create a little side-money which might help make your local ministry a bit more self-sustaining.)

Is this an idea you are interested in?

This is as far as the idea has gone. I think it’s interesting, Mark and some other folks think it’s interesting, but before anyone proceeds we’d all have to know it’s interesting to you.

So, before I go any further, I need to know if you’d be interested in an idea like this.

  1. Leave comments below with thoughts about the idea. How can we make it better? What do you like or not like about it?
  2. Fill out the form below to show your interested. (I promise I won’t contact you for anything else, just this idea.)

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

22 comments

  1. This is a great idea! Sharing happens on a smaller scale. But it would be great to expand connections to more places!!

    1. @angela – Totally. I’ve done a bunch of it personally when I travel (I sleep better in a persons home than a hotel) and with youth groups. I think the thing is… “could we make it easier?” And really… could we help churches/people make a little money to host? Not 100% needed, but for some, money is a real issue to their longevity in YM.

    1. @mike – and I hear from people/know people who have places that’d be great for that purpose, they are even willing to host for either free or darn cheap… I just don’t have a way to conned the dots.

  2. Here’s an idea that I think would be pretty much a requirement:
    We’d need some sort of guarantee. Like, if a church says they can host 50 students for a night on the way back from a mission trip and 48 hours before their arrival the church has to cancel because of a funeral, we’d need a plan for that. (for both the church and the youth worker!)

  3. Why not just use Airbnb and put a description in as “youth worker friendly” you could search for it. Then the youth worker could negotiate a price… Might open more doors.

    1. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. And hey, if Airbnb wants to work with me to develop a church/youth group channel, I’d be all about it. I’ve blogged about it here before, I love and use Airbnb a bunch.

      But I don’t think churches or youth pastors are going to look to Airbnb without a specific channel. And I don’t think (many) churches would be willing to list their space for free/low cost if that meant it’d be open to any group. I know that’d be the case with people I know who have cabins or even camps who lend their space to ministry people from time to time.

      Regarding people willing to list their space on a service like this, again… I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. I know people who do couch surfing or airbnb, etc and maybe they’d be willing to also list their space at a different/reduced/free rate for people in ministry… especially if they got to designate which weeks.

  4. I’d love to see something like this for our conference. We house people in the dorms but we sometimes get groups asking if there are local churches who would let them crash in a Fellowship Hall or something. It would be nice to have a resource to facilitate hosts and guests

    1. +1 for that. We’ve had a hard time doing the same thing. I know we (The Youth Cartel) just don’t want to be in the hotel business when churches/friends are willing to host.

  5. I like the idea! I am picturing a map graphic we could have so we can see where places to stay are available.

  6. This sounds awesome! I know we’ve stayed at churches when the drive is just a bit to long to do in one day, but it’s a gamble because you don’t know for sure if the church is interested or does stuff like that or has a policy readily available. Having a listing of churches all over the country that are clearly available for overnight stays would be a fantastic resource!

  7. This is a genius idea! Tim and I were actually just looking for a cheap getaway for him to do some fall planning. We found a Christian camp that allows pastors to stay for free, but it was darn difficult to find. Maybe this website could also list camps that have that service, too.

  8. I wonder if a) it shouldn’t be more ministry in general focused. I know several churches in fl who host various missions projects as well as having lodging available. B) could the service be funded by a subscription model that creates a bit of a gateway/firewall to keep people from exposing their details publicly. C) l wonder how our various partners in ministry who run camps would feel about this. I know a lot of church camps depend on retreat business to keep the books in the black.

  9. We are a retired couple who live on a small lake in Upstate NY. We have a guest suite that we would love to share with youth pastors as a free bed and breakfast. Our daughter is married to a youth pastor and we are very aware of the need for low cost getaway options for young pastors. A service that helped connect us to potential guests would be wonderful!

  10. I like it. I work with a lot of churches looking for a place to crash as they travel cross country for mission trips. We tried creating a resource for them of willing churches they could stay at. It worked well the first year but it was difficult to keep current and updated each year. Unfortunately, we had a few youth pastors who were willing to host one year who weren’t at that church a year later. So having a 3rd party who could facilitate some of those details would be awesome.

  11. How we doing on this Adam?
    My family used AirBnB last week for a wedding in Georgia. It was a great experience. They were gracious hosts. We had dinner together one night, and they even prayed over us. It was amazing.

  12. Adam – When I was working Nor Cal Networks and EFCS Regional, we would do this through our networks. A solid way to start would be connecting with those who are ALREADY networking and resourcing and just simply connect those individuals. The idea is a SOLID. 😉

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