Travel

Airbnb just gave a New Bedford superhost special recognition. Here’s why.

Phylicia Pavao's rental is in downtown New Bedford.

Phylicia Pavao, 27, of New Bedford, is a top under 30 host on Airbnb. Airbnb

A Massachusetts property owner was just named one of the top Airbnb hosts under age 30 in America.

The online marketplace for lodging recently revealed its 30 under 30 class of 2022, calling the standouts the most “successful, innovative and tenacious” hosts under age 30, and Phylicia Pavao, 27, from New Bedford, made the list.

Airbnb said hosts under age 30 earned about $775 million nationwide last year and $11 million in Massachusetts. The 30 under 30 winners are all superhosts — the most top-rated and experienced hosts — who have hosted more than 3,600 check-ins collectively, and have an average rating of 4.95 (on a scale of 1-5), according to Airbnb.

“I was super excited,” said Pavao. “The fact that they noticed seemed really cool because I really do work hard at it and I don’t really ask for anything in return. But it’s just nice to be recognized.”

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Pavao, who works as an executive assistant, began hosting at age 21 shortly after graduating from Gordon College in Wenham with a linguistics degree. The Dartmouth native had an idea for an extra property owned by her parents in New Bedford — why not turn it into an Airbnb?

Her parents agreed and funded the endeavor, encouraging her as she turned the “awkward” apartment into a livable rental and listed it on Airbnb. The successful experience motivated Pavao to save up and buy her own property with the goal of renting it on Airbnb. She saved for two years and bought a four-unit house in New Bedford.

The house is within walking distance of restaurants and shops, as well as the New Bedford Whaling Museum and ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket and has off-street parking.

“Of course it’s a big investment,” she said. “It was scary even for me with all the advice and wisdom from my parents. It was definitely so scary — but a good scary.”

The living room of Pavao’s downtown New Bedford apartment listed on Airbnb.

She spent a year renovating the property and began renting one of the units on Airbnb in 2019. The other units in the building are long-term rentals not listed on Airbnb. She listed the Airbnb unit as a Modern Downtown Apartment.

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Pavao and her husband live in the unit and rent it out when his work as a traveling physical therapist takes them elsewhere for three-month stints while she works remotely. When they are traveling, the couple becomes Airbnb renters themselves, which she said sharpens her own hosting skills.

“We really want it to be as hassle-free as possible,” she said, which is something she appreciates as a renter. “When you come in, we hope you wouldn’t have to buy anything. You can just get started.”

Therefore, she stocks her fridge with water and her cabinets with spices for cooking. Guests are also asked if they’d like the futons transitioned into beds before they arrive.

The bedroom at Pavao’s downtown New Bedford apartment listed on Airbnb.

Pavao’s attention to detail, coupled with the property’s location, proved to be a winning combination. She said her rental was busy, even through the pandemic.

“We get a lot of reviews for how clean it is,” she said. “I have an awesome cleaning lady and she’s family.”

Her secret to success, Pavao said, is her honesty and close attention to guest reviews.

For example, she is up front with guests about possible noise, writing in the listing: “Because you are in walking distance to the downtown area, we hope you understand if there is some noise from the street.”

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And when a guest noted in a review that only liquid, not bar soap, was available, Pavao promptly added bars of soap.

The kitchen at Pavao’s downtown New Bedford apartment listed on Airbnb.

Pavao, a newlywed who celebrates her first wedding anniversary on Sunday, said the income from the Airbnb rental, plus the rent from the other three units, helps her pay back her student loans, save, travel, and also gives her job security.

“If I didn’t have this, I would just be paying my student loans and have no savings,” she said. “This allows me to pay down my student loans faster while also saving.”

Two other New Englanders made the 30 under 30 list: Nathalie, 25, host of Elmore Oasis Summer Getaway in Morrisville, Vermont, and Monica, 29, host of Bright, Light, Airy Apartment in Hartford, Conn.

Pavao’s unit costs $75 per night.

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