A Trip to LA

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In September I received a phone call from Airbnb asking very strange questions. Where was the condo that we rent out on the Airbnb platform? Where do we actually live? So they are in different cities? I asked her why she was asking and she said she is new to Airbnb, was given this as a task and actually didn’t know why. I answered her questions.
About 2 weeks later I received an email from Omar at Airbnb Social Good, asking for more details of the family that we sponsor and any background details about the story. I answered the questions, gave him a link to our blog and the facebook page, and a link to the news story that ran when the family first arrived in February.

– A little background: we have a condo in Toronto that we use for business but also rent out on Airbnb. The money we earn through Airbnb goes to support Project Welcome and there is a guest book in the condo that explains this to our guests. It turns out a few people thought this was pretty cool. –

About 2 weeks after that I was notified by Airbnb that I had been nominated for an award at the Belo Awards, part of the Airbnb Open Festival that was being held in Los Angeles Nov 17-19. Being nominated means they will fly you and a guest to LA, put you up (in Airbnb accommodations of course!). This felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity so we figured out child care, had them book our flights and decided to go to LA!!!

I had never heard of the Belo Awards before, wasn’t sure what our chances were of really winning so honestly didn’t think much of it. The day of the awards I received an email saying to prepare a 30-second speech in case we won. I don’t like public speaking so felt very intimidated by this idea!

At the awards ceremony I found out that there are 4 categories with 3 nominees each, then I really started to feel there was a chance I could win this thing and I should at least plan out what I would say if they do call my name! I was advised that 30 seconds is about 4 sentences so quickly scribbled down some thoughts.

There were cocktails to enjoy, and little snacks in the theatre where the ceremony was being held. I was very nervous, sweaty, butterflies, and was comfort eating. James Corden was a great host and really funny so I did manage to relax and enjoy the night.

They had a category for best interior design. A guy from Australia who built a tree house that he rents out on Airbnb won that category. They had a category called Love which featured hosts who had gone the extra mile for their guests. They had some swing dancing and a singing group called SoCalVoCals. Then the Co-Founders of Airbnb were on stage, it’s the end of the night and I realised they would be announcing my category.

My heart started pounding, sweaty palms, butterflies, the works, so nervous…the Airbnb award goes to….they announce my name and I am stunned! I walk up the steps carefully, hug all 3 of the founders, then am given my award and shown the microphone. I try to think of something remotely intelligent to say (4 sentences only!) then am shown off stage to be interviewed and photographed. The photographer congratulated me, the interviewer told me I should write a book, and that the story is almost making her cry. Omar was fantastic, and told me he speaks Arabic so maybe he could do the translating to explain to Jamal and Hiba what just happened!

I realised pretty quickly that I would lose this huge heavy award unless I found a bag to put it in and quick! Karl carried it around for me until we found a reusable shopping bag for it. We then went to hear Maroon 5, went to the nightclub that was happening til 2 am (didn’t like it), then went out for another drink and some snacks. Made our way back to our Airbnb and tried to comprehend what had just happened.

Airbnb Open happens every year. Airbnb puts on a huge show to thank their great hosts and making Airbnb what it is today. It’s incredible how they have helped create a global sharing economy that is changing the way we travel. It was a great experience, we met lots of other hosts from all over the world. There were hundreds of workshops to attend, places to share stories, have a cup of tea or coffee, and attend seminars/workshops in all these old theatres of Los Angeles on South Broadway. This weekend away was definitely a trip I will never forget!