Name: Aaron Zifkin
Home Base: Toronto
Occupation: Country Manager – Canada at Airbnb
Aaron Zifkin is currently Country Manager for Canada at Airbnb, where he oversees all operations, including customer outreach, sales and marketing, as well as growing the business with hosts and guests across the country.
Aaron was tapped to run Airbnb Canada because he understands what it takes to turn a big vision into a practical reality. His pride and love for his home country of Canada makes Aaron the perfect ambassador for Airbnb.
Aaron embodies all things Canadian, epitomizing the characteristics that make a good host. He takes great pride in making people feel a strong sense of belonging, wherever they are.
Q: What are your goals for Airbnb in Canada?
A: Airbnb's mission is to bring communities together and enable people to belong anywhere. Airbnb is becoming a superbrand, one that changes the way the world thinks and behaves. Our advantage will always be the strength of our community and the unique experiences they provide our guests. We’re here to support the thriving Airbnb community and to welcome Canadians to the Airbnb community for the first time.
Q: Top tips to ensure your Airbnb rental experience goes smoothly
A: Some of the best tips for using Airbnb are to use the filters to help you find exactly what kind of accommodation you’re looking for, be sure to read the host’s reviews, build a rapport with the host, and ask a lot of questions. Finally, show up with a curious mind and be prepared for a memorable experience.
Q: How often do you travel?
A: I travel every week. I’m back and forth between San Francisco and Toronto on a regular basis, but also visit most major cities in Canada for business. I like to travel for pleasure as much as possible, but luckily for me, work travel and pleasure travel are a blurry line. My work brings me to locales like London, Milan, Paris and other great places where I try to find a couple of days to explore on my own, and of course stay with our Airbnb community.
Q: Describe your best experience staying at an Airbnb rental
A: Last November, I was staying at an Airbnb in London. My hosts and I got along so well they decided to join me in Italy for the weekend. They also happened to speak Italian, so it was great for me to go from being a solo traveler to having new friends and interpreters. Our brief encounter sparked a great friendship and I will definitely be staying with them next time I head to London and they are coming to visit me in Canada this summer.
Q: What’s the most unique Airbnb rental location you know of?
A: There are so many unique listings on Airbnb, from castles to treehouses to Yurts. I recently stayed at an Airbnb eco-conscious cabana on a beach in Mexico. It was so secluded and I had my own private beach – you don’t get that at an all-inclusive! Here is the listing.
Q: What’s your favourite travel destination? What do you recommend to others planning to visit there?
A: Without a doubt, New Zealand is my favourite travel destination. The friendly locals, the rich culture and heritage, and the natural beauty are just a few reasons why I love New Zealand. Unlike most places you visit, it is not about point A or point B, it is about what is in between them (the natural beauty). If you like outdoor activity, there is no better, more breathtakingly beautiful place to do it.
Q: Most impressive airport?
A: Singapore Changi Airport, because it’s a mixture of indoor and outdoor space. I love to be able to soak up atmosphere wherever I am for as long as I can, including time waiting in the airport. They have mastered making lineups super-efficient.
Q: What’s your most interesting travel story/anecdote that you love to share?
A: When I first started backpacking solo after university, I noticed a pattern of when my most amazing and authentic experiences happened. They were never planned and they always involved being out of my comfort zone. For instance, every time I got off a bus and it was late and dark, I felt inclined to take the first guest house. I then started pushing myself a bit and walking an extra block just to see what else was there. Every time I walked the extra block I was always rewarded with my best accommodation, experiences and friendships. Always walk the extra block!
Q: Most famous person you have ever met on the road?
A: I have a habit of making myself look like a fool in front of famous people. I met a guy named Dustin waiting in line at a restaurant. I said “I know you, I’m Aaron” as in we had met before and I was letting him off the hook for forgetting my name. I then realized when he said “I’m Dustin” that he was in fact Dustin Hoffman.
Q: What’s one place in the world you haven’t visited yet that you would love to see?
A: I’ve traveled around the world, but I have not been to Africa. I’d love to go on safari in Kenya, see Victoria Falls in Zambia, hike the Drakensburg Mountains in Lesotho and explore Cape Town in South Africa. Maybe it will be my next big trip!
Q: Advice on how to get work done while out of the office?
A: If I’m working outside of the office, which is a lot of the time, I put on my headphones and block out the background noise. Since I travel a lot, I’ve finely tuned the skill of being able to work anywhere. I also love working on airplanes as it is the last place in the world where you can’t get online.
Q: Money saving hacks for frequent travelers?
A: Stay at an Airbnb, of course! To save even more money – rent a room in someone’s house, instead of renting out the whole house or apartment. Our hosts know the best spots to eat and the best things to do close by so you don’t get stuck with tourist prices.
Q: How do you get over jet lag?
A: For long haul flights, set your watch to the destination time upon boarding, this always helps me adjust to a new time zone quickly. Oh, and stay hydrated!
Q: Aisle, middle, or window?
A: Window – I like to be able to see where I’m headed, but also like to be able to chat with the person beside me.