From Guest to Host: Rediscovering home, and digging in

John had been living in New York City and using Airbnb for several years all over the world, meeting interesting people in unique places, when he decided it was time to move back to his hometown, Memphis, Tennessee.

Downtown Memphis had once again become a thriving neighborhood for business and entertainment, and that’s where John set his sights. He was inspired to find a new place to live as unique as what he’d seen as a guest throughout his travels. The first place he looked at was a storefront condo on a pedestrian mall. With 12” windows looking out onto the mall, and trolley cars and horse drawn carriages rolling by throughout the day, John knew instantly that the condo would make a great Airbnb spot. He also suspected he would be a naturally good host, after all his years as a guest.

“It makes the trip a little more special when you have experiences outside the norm.”

John collected all the hospitality touches he’d learned and put them into action with his own blend of Southern hospitality. He leaves a bottle of wine or beer from a local brewery for his guests upon arrival, and if he can’t be there himself he leaves a card welcoming them. He stocks the fridge with water, and provides homemade (by his mom) biscotti in a big cookie jar. He tries to get a read on his guests and steer them toward the cool, offbeat, less touristy spots they might like and wouldn’t have known otherwise.

John derives great pleasure from being a host, but living back in Memphis has moved him beyond his own walls.

“Moving back to my city, and getting to know the huge impact it had on America and on the world, I started to take great pride in my city, and wanted to show it off.”

John has started to invest his time and energy into revitalizing Memphis, and is leading the charge behind the future Memphis Art Park (MAP), a cultural center that will bring the city together while supporting and growing its creative community. MAP will of course enrich tourism for the city as well. “I want visitors to truly appreciate not only the history of Memphis, but also the emerging culture that's out there and just starting to break through."

John first used Airbnb as a guest, but hosting in his hometown, Memphis, has brought him even greater satisfaction.

John first used Airbnb as a guest, but hosting in his hometown, Memphis, has brought him even greater satisfaction.


“As a host, I like to steer my guests towards what I feel are the most unique spots—the ones that have the most character and reflect the real soul of the city.”

“As a host, I like to steer my guests towards what I feel are the most unique spots—the ones that have the most character and reflect the real soul of the city.”

John recently produced and directed a short film on dance called “Bookin.” “It’s meant to reflect what happened here decades ago when the city’s black and white musical cultures mixed and inspired each other to create rock ‘n roll.”

John recently produced and directed a short film on dance called “Bookin.” “It’s meant to reflect what happened here decades ago when the city’s black and white musical cultures mixed and inspired each other to create rock ‘n roll.”


John converted an old door he found on the street into a chalk board, on which he has a running list of his favorite restaurants, bars and other hangouts.

John converted an old door he found on the street into a chalk board, on which he has a running list of his favorite restaurants, bars and other hangouts.

“I get great pleasure when guests tell me what a great experience they had in Memphis, how much they enjoyed my place, and how much they enjoyed the recommendations. Talk about a perfect trifecta—it’s all around a good feeling.”

“I get great pleasure when guests tell me what a great experience they had in Memphis, how much they enjoyed my place, and how much they enjoyed the recommendations. Talk about a perfect trifecta—it’s all around a good feeling.”


"I'd like both tourists and locals to appreciate Memphis not only for what it has given and for what it is but also for what it can give in the future."

"I'd like both tourists and locals to appreciate Memphis not only for what it has given and for what it is but also for what it can give in the future."

Airbnb teams up with local directors and photographers to bring these stories to life. Thanks to Annabella Charles for capturing this story.


Related Stories