As Airbnb grows in Cuba, locals suffer the emotional burden of entitled tourists

As Airbnb grows in Cuba, locals suffer the emotional burden of entitled tourists

From the article:

In some cases, being a host required emotionally demanding labor, such as coping with exhaustion while “putting on a smile.”

“Emotional labor” is not a term I had heard before, so I looked it up. Wikipedia says:

Emotional labor is the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. More specifically, workers are expected to regulate their emotions during interactions with customers, co-workers and superiors.

It seems to mean that you need to be polite and friendly towards your customers (guests) even when you aren’t feeling happy. This seems like basic customer service to me - of course you need to smile and be nice to your guests, whether you are having a bad day or not.

What am I missing that makes this something deserving of complaint? To me this is like saying “being a host requires physically demanding labor, such as cleaning the toilet.” Of course it does! If you can’ t master your emotions well enough to be nice to guests, maybe this is not the job for you.


I agree with you. As I read this I’m thinking that this is no different from hosting in the US (or any other place). STR is not for everyone and at times it can be challenging (think last week’s toilet plunger issue) but you have to make choices in life. I like living where I live but could only do this with the supplemental income or working a second job.

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Wow, that was a whole lot of nothing, at least nothing related to Cuba. Most everything discussed are simple facts of life for hosts. The lack of reasonably priced internet is probably the biggest issue for Cuban hosts, but it’s certainly not unique to Cuba.

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I admit that I don’t have much time but I trust you guys so I’m not reading the article. By what you all say, it seems that maybe it’s been \written by someone who doesn’t have a huge amount of experience in the world of work?

Emotional labour? Sorry but that seems like nonsense in a customer service context (and customer service applies to many jobs). As for physically demanding labour - well, I don’t know about anyone else but it keeps this old dear fit. :crazy_face:


Awwww. Too bad that people thought this would be a way to make quick money from ignorant tourists – and discovered that hosting is hard work or you’ll get booted for being a bad Host!


Interesting read. I found myself saying “ what the hell! “ at this paragraph:

“Although Airbnb doesn’t acknowledge or address the emotional labor imposed onto Cubans, they have certainly capitalized on such labor by advertising the authentic experience.”

Oh good grief—it’s called work (not party time) for a reason.

The paragraphs about the stupid things tourist say—pluuuuease. Tourist say stupid stuff everywhere. Like the chick from NJ who cracked on me when she heard the southern accent and asked if I had finished high school. (I have my BS-Business Admin, MBA, and BS-Nursing and a gentle accent)

Or the person who wanted me to know she had seen mosquitoes in South Carolina—Hmmmm ok.

I didn’t get past header 2 …

Unused to the fake smiles innate to the gig economy, Cubans bear the brunt of Airbnb’s emotional labor

Fake smiles?

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Look at this? Wow. Apparently, home sharing would allow an average Cuban to make in a day what they currently make in an entire month.


A poorly researched and very subjective article, in my humble opinion.

We took a month out and headed for Cuba a few years ago. Apart from a couple of hotels, all our accomodation was in Casa Particulares up and down the island. Independent travellers were in the minority in those days, almost a curiosity to some locals!

The Casa Particulares were booked on the internet, this was 2008. There was a web site where you get contact details. It was easy. The traditional method, word of mouth, was still there and we utilised that also.

During our stays we found the hosts, in the main, to be helpful and always happy to chat. No forced smiles and a genuine desire for us to see the other side of Cuba, away from the resorts full of Canadians, Brits and northern Europeans. Being honest, if our Spanish had been better we’d probably have spent more time chatting!

It makes me wonder if the folks he talked to are those who got into hosting because they seen it as a way to make easy money, as opposed to the folks who had been running Casa Particulares for years, way before Airbnb appeared on the scene.

I’ve no idea how it works now, but then the (produce) markets were for locals only. Ok, you could buy a piece of fruit (if you could find any!) but not do a weekly shop. There were a lot shops where same rules applied, Cubans only and only local currency accepted (moneda nacional).

We had a great time, met lots of interesting folks, had some great discussions about every topic under the sun and seen both the good side of Cuba and, unfortunately, the dark side.

Just glad we managed to get there before things changed.


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I would be interested to hear examples of guest behavior or expectations, or indeed Airbnb’s behavior, that lead the writer using the term “Cubans bear the brunt of Airbnb’s emotional labor”. I understand it is still a developing country where Cuban hosts may not have many resources. Are today’s guests expecting more that hosts can’t afford? So hosts feel worried and embarrassed. I would really appreciate knowing what is behind the topic.

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I don’t often visit this post but got drawn into it for some reason tonight. I just need to respond to your share which I thought was the most understanding. I can truly identify with the reality of entitled tourist. I don’t travel often except usually to visit longtime friends I left behind when I moved to California. Last spring I did get the opportunity to go to Cabo San Lucas. I stay with a couple friends in a condo that my friends pays so as to be able to go their once a year. I did see some of the guest during the open dining set up where the guest treated the help like second class. What you might describe as entitled tourists. What make them feel entitled. They surely didn’t deserve it.