Two entrepreneurs bring much needed diversity to the hospitality industry

Written by Airbnb

There are two things that can turn a good travel experience into a great one: the details and feeling like those details were chosen with you specifically in mind. But everything from the toiletries to the rooms and even the staff itself can make African American travelers feel overlooked–as if they’re out of place. “Travelers are worried about whether they can bring their identities with them.” Marcus Carey said. And that’s exactly what he and his fellow cofounder, Damon Lawrence of Homage Hospitality set out to fix. “There’s a lack of diversity reflected in ownership and in management.” Damon said. “I really wanted The Moor to represent possibility. I wanted to showcase what Homage is capable of, but then in an even larger context what African Americans in hospitality are capable of.”

“I really wanted The Moor to represent possibility. I wanted to showcase what Homage is capable of, but then in an even larger context what African Americans in hospitality are capable of.”

Damon Lawrence, Homage Hospitality

Damon and Marcus met in 2016 at a party in Oakland, CA and realized they saw the same opportunity—to provide a fundamentally different travel experience. The two quickly got to work on The Moor, a 4-suite boutique hotel in New Orleans, LA. “At The Moor, we wanted everything to tell a story.” Marcus said. “Our spaces should feel like that city and cultural hotbed got packed into the building.”

Despite working tirelessly, Damon and Marcus were running the risk of missing their opening date of July 1, 2018. “We were completely out of cash two days before we opened our doors and the property wasn’t done yet.” Marcus said. But this didn’t stop them. Instead they went to the hardware store and used their own money to get everything they needed. “The journey to get something open doesn’t stop unless the entrepreneur stops.” Within 3 days of welcoming their first guests, The Moor was completely sold out for the rest of 2018.

“We were completely out of cash two days before we opened our doors and the property wasn’t done yet.”

Marcus Carey, Homage Hospitality

Even with their initial success, Damon and Marcus saw a lot of potential in listing The Moor on Airbnb. “I think now that we’re actually on the Airbnb platform and we’re able to open up our doors to more people of all different backgrounds, we’ve seen that people just appreciate the space in general.” Damon said.

“I think now that we’re actually on the Airbnb platform and we’re able to open up our doors to more people of all different backgrounds, we’ve seen that people just appreciate the space in general.”

Damon Lawrence, Homage Hospitality

Now as the co-founders of Homage look to expand to Napa, Oakland, and Los Angeles, CA, it’s more important than ever for them to not only be able to reach the Airbnb’s global community of guests, but also to be able to get feedback from them directly. “Hearing from our guests, hearing from customers are just informing every day of our operation.” Marcus said. Damon added, “Allowing that exchange to happen is a beautiful aspect of the Airbnb platform.”



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