I just had my elderly father (80) call me for help as we was struggling with using Airbnb - how can we help make it easier?

My father phoned me very flustered and ready to give up on using Air. He has stayed at places before but had spent the last two days trying to book somewhere and couldn’t manage it.
I think what has happened is that this is the first time he has come across a host who insisted on verification and since he was already travelling this was too difficult for him to do (I was too scared to ask if he has a smart phone, in case the answer was: what is that?)

I explained why verification and a photo was important but because he was upset he was quite resistant (I actually found the whole conversation quite scary as he was the first person I knew to get a computer at home 34 years ago and a business man who has travelled the world extensively. If old age can do this to him it can do it to all of us!). I explained that without verification and a photo I would not permit him to stay in my places.

I told him I could phone Air and ask them to call him to help him: he said how long will that take? I proudly told him that I was a superhost so they answer me immediately. I phoned Air and for the first time ever was put on hold for 6 minutes, I hung up and phoned back again and was answered quicker. I talked to the lovely CR rep who said she would phone him, I wished her luck in dealing with him. She never phoned.

I contacted the host and explained the situation and asked if she was happy for me to book it under my account and she was. I then added my father’s email address to the itinerary. I also asked the host that as she was a meet and greet host if she had time, could she please see if she could help my father complete his account.

This got me thinking, as our population is ageing, how many people out there are struggling with technology that we take for granted and is there anything else I could have done to assist my father?


I really feel for people in their later years and the expected ability to use technology well. One of my cleaners does not have a mobile, internet or a computer and she is struggling as these are now the expected basics. I feel they will become isolated and scared of this world and it is not a good thing!


One of my cleanersare an elderly retired couple needing the extra money. She had never sent a text before she started working for me 4 years ago. Also in the early days she missed some important info because she didn’t check her emails all weekend. I went to their house, set up the listing on their computer and showed them how to check the calendar. She now texts me daily, with emojis and sends photos when necessary and has bought herself a tablet!


I don’t see older folks as having trouble with adopting technology, more of just being unable or unwilling to see the benefits , since many have lived through a golden era without tablets and phones etc. My mum was one such example, but recently when she learned the simple benefit of being able to snap pictures on the go (which really helped with recording things like brands of milk, her hairstyle, her grandson’s photos etc) , she progressed from not knowing how to operate a cellphone to shopping online for bargains. It’s a huge step for her because she doesn’t read English and has limited education (due to poor access opportunities in the 50s and 60s), and everything was just a bit more difficult with that language barrier.


And at some point none of us are going to be able to poke the tiny letters on our tiny smart phone keypads. Maybe it will all be voice recognition by then, Or transdermal implants.
My Dad bought a service contract when he bought his computer, and he’ll just call them and say “I can’t print anything anymore” or “I suddenly can’t see my emails” and they both stay on the phone until they walk him through whatever to his satisfaction. I am imagining them at their help desk at the store, saying to each other, “Oh no, I helped Mr. P. the last time, it’s YOUR turn.” He is pleasant and gracious and thanks them, however, so they respond in kind.


There are so many people well in their 70ties here in Costa Rica that are using smartphones and WhatsApp.

Once they see how easy it is and fast to send a message or photo …only bad thing are all the FB type postings.

In your case, Poppy, I would probably just told your dad: book a room on booking …

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No places on booking in this remote area of Tasmania but there are a few home hosts on Air.

Yes my mum has a tech support service. It’s the best thing. Half of it is confidence.

I respectfully disagree with your post. When my dad was 79 yrs old I couldn’t for the life of me teach him how to use a simple cell phone . His mental capacity
Is not what it was just a few years ago. I couldn’t even imagine trying to show him how a tablet works.
I know its hard to put ourselves in thier shoes to see how they can struggle with all the changes in the world. All we can do is be kind and be patient with the elderly.


I agree, as I said my father was ahead of his time and had a computer at home 30 plus years ago, that’s why I was so surprised at how frustrated and flustered he was. It’s the first time I have been aware of him getting older.

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No, they are probably happy it is him rather than someone shouting at them or abusing them for not being English.

My mother is 83 and until a couple of years ago was doing all her bookings online as I bought her a PC for her 60th birthday (she had been a typing and business studies high school teacher). She loved email but then everybody started using FB or messenger apps or texting and she doesn’t like that at all. I don’t think she ever tried AirBnB but the initial set up is a little discombobulating and offputting for some people, not just the elderly. After that it is pretty much like any booking site except you are dealing with a real person who you may meet, and share a bathroom with.


It does take a bit effort to set it up, I tried to tell him that he only had to do it once and then he would be good to go but I think he was just over it.

I don’t think you can generalise @MthGal my mid 80’s mother uses Skype, FB, texts regularly, shops and does her banking online etc.

It just might that you trying to teach him was not the best idea, he will probably be much better going to a technology class designed for someone of his age.


In your situation, I would have just gone into his account and done it for him.

That’s what my husband said but it still wouldn’t work as I don’t have a copy of his ID to load up.

My mother is the same age and lives on her computer, tablet and smart phone, it’s her connection to the world.

Just ask your mum to scan a copy and send it to you :slight_smile: Or she could have just done it for him.

Oops that would mean that they talked to each other!!! That stopped years ago! In fact I knew how pleased she would be that she managed to use Airbnb all over Europe and he was struggling in Tasmania! I wondered if it was healthy passing that news on as some battles never die…

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My Mom bought a car over the internet when she was in her early 80s LOL. This was almost 10 years ago! She was on oxygen and could hardly walk, and her license had expired, but her spirit and mind were fine and she kept thinking one day I’m gonna get back out and I need a new car to be ready! HAH!. My brother and his family lived next door and helped take care of her and didn’t know she’d even done it until they saw it in the driveway. We still laugh about it. She loved technology and I’m sure got a good deal on the car – she was no pushover. Her career had been real estate and she loved driving too. Sadly she’s not on this earth but there’s always something to remind me she’s near.