A delegate who attended this year’s Local Government NSW Tourism Conference in Parkes was almost left speechless by the hospitality and kindness of the local people.
Regional Manager for Airbnb Brent Thomas from Sydney was in town on Monday and Tuesday to speak at the conference.
He stayed with a Parkes Airbnb host, dined at local restaurants and cafes, visited local pubs and acquainted himself with Parkes tourism operators.
And following his stay, he discovered Parkes and Airbnb had something significant in common.
“There’s a real energy in Parkes,” Brent said.
“They’re doing old things in new ways, like the old music of Elvis and combining it with the internet, energy and people coming together.
“That’s what Airbnb is all about – taking something old and bringing people together in a new way.”
Even though Airbnb began in San Francisco 10 years ago, Brent said it was more popular in Australia, with a big focus on rural and regional areas.
It’s created 400 million jobs nationally – 4000 of those are regional. In NSW it’s 130 million jobs and 2100 jobs in regional NSW.
There are 30 Airbnbs in Parkes.
“A host in Parkes makes $2541 per year,” Brent said.
“It takes 15 minutes to sign up...When you stay with a local host, they make local recommendations which is really good for local business.
“It’s about living like a local.
“People should consider being a host – hosts use the money to fund the family holiday or pay the mortgage and the benefits are you meet people from around Australia and the world, and it’s incredibly fulfilling financially and socially.”
Brent said he spoke about how Airbnb could partner with local councils to boost tourism and changing the regulatory environment at the conference.
“Aussies are not travelling the same way their parents and grandparents did,” he said.
“There was a deep appetite for Airbnb [at the conference].”
Brent also had the opportunity to meet the mayor, Cr Ken Keith OAM, and caught up with Trundle ABBA Festival organisers Gary and Ruth Crowley over a few drinks at the conference’s welcome reception at Hotel Gracelands.
And prior to his departure on Tuesday afternoon, he was given a tour of the Railway Hotel.
It’s been 15 years since Brent was last in Parkes.
“It’s great to be back, Parkes people are very warm,” he said.
“I’ve been made to feel so welcome, from the mayor to the local pub to a taxi driver.
“People have the time to talk to you, they’re not in a hurry.”
Brent said he was disappointed he wasn’t able to visit the Dish while he was here but he vowed he’d be back, promising to bring his sister – a big ABBA fan – to the ABBA Festival.