Thursday, August 10, 2023

Authoritarians are on the march


Leaders | Value judgments

Authoritarians are on the march

They argue that universal values are the new imperialism, imposed on people who want security and stability instead. Here is why they are wrong

One arm unattached while the other are together
image: travis constantine

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 held out the promise that growing prosperity would foster freedom and tolerance, which in turn would create more prosperity. Unfortunately, that hope disappointed. Our analysis this week, based on the definitive global survey of social attitudes, shows just how naive it turned out to be.

Prosperity certainly rose. In the three decades to 2019, global output increased more than fourfold. Roughly 70% of the 2bn people living in extreme poverty escaped it. But individual freedom and tolerance evolved differently. Many people around the world continue to swear fealty to traditional beliefs, sometimes intolerant ones. And although they are much wealthier these days, they often have an us-and-them contempt for others.

Airbnb hosting isn’t what it used to be


Airbnb hosting isn’t what it used to be

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Welcome to Bw Daily, the Bloomberg Businessweek newsletter. Today is the second and final day of our Out of Office Special—articles that involve summer travel, summer interns, summer inertia. Let us know what you think by emailing our editor here! If this has been forwarded to you, click here to sign up.


Last summer, Joan Robertson and her husband, Mark, finally realized their yearslong goal of buying a second home in the Sun Belt to escape the brutal winters of Minnesota. Persuaded by one of their sons who loves amusement parks, they homed in on Kissimmee, Florida, just south of Orlando, and bought a three-bedroom townhouse in a gated community with resort access for $295,000. To help pay off the mortgage, they planned to operate the home as a short-term rental.

They upgraded the 2000s-era mustard-colored walls and oak-paneled kitchen cabinets with pastel and white paint, hired a property management company to handle the day-to-day logistics, and booked a photographer to make their listing stand out in a sea of options on Airbnb, and Vrbo. In October, they put their home online, hoping to attract other snowbirds or visitors to Walt Disney World, which is just a 10-minute drive away.

Ten months in, things haven’t panned out as they’d hoped. “We have absolutely zero bookings in August,” Robertson says. “This summer is extremely slow.”

Mark and Joan Robertson at their house in Minnesota. Photographer: Andrea Ellen Reed

She isn’t alone in feeling the pinch. Founded in 2008 as a way for travelers to find unique and affordable places to stay around the world, Airbnb Inc. has not only disrupted the hotel industry with its success but also created a whole new class of homebuyer: the short-term rental speculator. Some people bought multiple properties, renovating once-derelict homes with stylish furnishings and renting them out year-round; others bought more house than they could afford and wound up renting out the bottom floor or a single room to make ends meet. But lately hosts have hit a wall: Short-term rentals in Orlando and the surrounding suburbs saw revenue per available room drop 6.4% in the first half of this year, according to data compiled by economist Bram Gallagher at analytics firm AirDNA LLC. Near Joshua Tree National Park in California and in towns such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee (think: Dollywood), revenue has plummeted as much as 17% and 8.7%, respectively.

Online, it’s been dubbed an “Airbnbust.” Creeping angst about the phenomenon started spreading last fall on the internet and in host chat groups. One post on social media went viral: “What’s going on with Airbnb? No bookings at all.” There’s a Reddit channel where hosts commiserate and share news stories with titles such as: “Is Airbnb in a Death Spiral?”

That may be an exaggeration. As a company, Airbnb is still reaping the benefits of high interest in travel, and people are still seeking out its listings around the world. It recorded 115 million nights, tours and events booked in the second quarter, up 11% from a year ago. Its share price is up over 60% this year, riding high on a recent earnings report that named this year’s second quarter the most profitable one yet. But Airbnb’s corporate earnings don’t tell the whole story either. The market is experiencing a shakeout that will reward winners—with the right location, amenities and price—and punish losers.

But who’s winning and who’s losing? Natalie Lung and Jesse Levine take you inside the hosting world of Airbnb.

White Lotus Prices

Luxury hotels are, by definition, not cheap. But lately prices have jumped higher—like, to the point where a $1,600-per-night room could be considered a deal. What gives? Pursuits’ Nikki Ekstein digs into the numbers:

According to data from Virtuoso, a network of more than 20,000 luxury travel advisers, consumers are ponying up $1,700 per night on average. And the figure is up 69% from the summer of 2019, when travelers were spending an average of $979 a night. …

This resonates with data from another broker, real estate analytics firm CoStar. It found that the average daily rate for luxury hotels in the US this July was $372 (up 30% from $286 in the same month of 2019), while in Europe it was $625 (up 57% from $397 in 2019). The company’s definition of “luxury” is broader than what Virtuoso and Embark Beyond use, but the cost increases in percentage terms are comparably high.

This is increasing more than in the past.

“People in the travel industry are doing sanity checks on hotel pricing,” says Paul Tumpowsky, co-founder of the booking platform and travel consultant Skylark. His clients have been spending an average of $731 per night this summer, a figure he calls “shocking” and “crazy high” based on what he knows of his customer base—luxury-leaning in their taste but driven by value, and not ultrarich.

But why? Well, for that you will have to read the story. And maybe rethink that trip the Amalfi Coast next summer.

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Inspire More People


Created for |  Web Version
August 10, 2023
Golf Monthly
'I'm Just Trying To Inspire More People To Play Golf' - Golf Monthly Meets Mia Baker
Meet social media sensation, Mia Baker, who is on a mission to get more people into golf… and smiling all the way.
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'I'm Just Trying To Inspire More People To Play Golf' - Golf Monthly Meets Mia Baker

Meet social media sensation, Mia Baker, who is on a mission to get more people into golf… and smiling all the way

'I'm Just Trying To Inspire More People To Play Golf' - Golf Monthly Meets Mia Baker
(Image credit: Olly Curtis)

There are lots of people, organisations and businesses involved in the game of golf who talk about growing the game and making it accessible to a more diverse audience of potential new golfers. In some cases, it seems like it's just a buzz phrase that's bandied around or hijacked to help gain credibility or grow profit for a business. For others, actions speak louder than words and what they are doing is making a genuine difference. In the drive to get more young women playing golf arguably no one is doing more than social media star and presenter, Mia Baker. 

A few years ago, the 28-year-old from London didn’t know the first thing about golf. Then, just like so many people do, she got hooked. Getting bitten by the bug isn’t always enough – this game is hard. Then there are the various obstacles, especially for young women, which can put you off the sport for life. 

Baker persevered. One of her first experiences of golf may have been underwhelming and rather uninspiring, but now she’s right where she wants to be – on a golf course trying to inspire other women to get involved and try the game. We sat down with Mia at her home club Foxhills in Surrey to discover how she made the journey from beginner golfer to a star of YouTuber, Instagram and TikTok. 

Has sports always been a big part of your life?

I played hockey and netball at quite a high level, and athletics. I tore my ACL back at university and thought that might’ve been the end of it all. Then my ex-boyfriend’s dad took us out on a course in Spain, Sotogrande. 

I never had an interest in grass my whole life until golf – it was amazing! They took me to the driving range and I hit loads of air shots. It was so difficult, but then I’d hit a few good shots and it was amazing. 

Tell us about the barriers you came across when getting into the game…

I remember I couldn’t find anything at all for women in pro shops. I went to one retailer, their flagship store, and tried to get some shoes. It was so difficult to find any. I got in touch with the CEO and sent a really long email, not like in a moany sort of way, but just outlining how, as a female trying to get into golf, I didn’t know who or where to go. I couldn’t even see any females on this brand’s social feeds. I just wasn’t feeling inspired or like there was anyone to help me, or other women, get into the game. 

Mia Baker using the driving range at Foxhills

Mia practices and plays at Foxhills in Surrey

(Image credit: Olly Curtis)

Not long after that, you started your Instagram account, right?

My strategy was literally to raise awareness to help get women’s golf shoes into shops! Then I thought maybe I can inspire more women to play golf and businesses will start to stock more women’s stuff. I would watch other people’s swings all the time. From there, I started posting videos of me slowly getting better at golf. 

You got the golf bug?

I wanted to hit it further and get a better swing. I think being good at golf is just so impressive and I love people who work hard and show that dedication. I think that's pretty special as a trait. 

Did you have lessons?

I posted my swing on Instagram and a company called Skillest picked it up, which is basically an app for online golf coaching. They connected me with a coach out in Malaysia (Steven Giuliano). My whole swing was built online through these lessons where I’d record my swing, send it to the coach and keep working from there. It’s pretty cool to think my whole golf swing was built online during lockdown. 

How did you find being a beginner?

I wanted to quit golf so many times – it’s so hard. I didn’t have golfing friends. I think if I had I wouldn’t have thought about quitting as often as I did. It’s not very fun if a group of guys asks you to come and play and you are the only girl – you play off the front tees and then you’re further apart. You feel a bit of an outcast. 

How can female golfers get around that issue?

It’s good to find a group that are starting out at the same time as you – you’re all going to be in the same position. Play a scramble. Team golf is so much more fun because you’re working together and you’re not playing from really difficult lies and attempting impossible shots. Why make the game more difficult? 

Mia Baker on the practice putting green at Foxhills

(Image credit: Olly Curtis)

You found a way to get more female golfers and beginners connected, didn’t you?

I used to get a lot of DMs (direct messages) asking how do I find other female golfers. It was such a good question. I had the platform and thought I needed to do something. I went to a few courses and explained what I was trying to do, basically asking to help fund a women’s event. It was difficult… can you go through this group? Can you put a deck together? It felt so much harder than it needed to be. Pitch (an indoor golf venue in Central London) just said, ‘Let’s get this done!’

How did that go?

It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen so many young females in one space who all play golf. People were bringing people who had never played golf before, too. I had some of my friends from the Tour come, too. So many people went away with a new number on their phone and joined a new WhatsApp group, which was the aim. That was amazing.

You then started to get support from golf brands, right?

I brought in all of my golf clothing and put it in a bay so anyone who wanted it could just take it away. The next time I got in touch with adidas and asked whether they’d be happy to donate some stuff. We had a full rail and everyone got to take something. 

Now adidas and Pitch are fully invested into the concept. They’re putting on their own women’s golf academy now to help support beginners into the game, giving newcomers some lessons. 

TaylorMade have been huge supporters too, which is amazing.

Dan Parker chatting with Mia Baker

(Image credit: Olly Curtis)

In terms of being more of an appealing sport for women, is golf in a better place now compared to five, ten years ago?

It’s better, but I wouldn’t say it’s there yet. What I would encourage anyone to do, guys in particular, would be to go into a shop and pretend you’re buying something for your girlfriend or wife, and just see how difficult it is.

Sometimes guys need to put themselves in the shoes of a female and see what they would think and feel. Go to that shop and see if you find anything. If it’s in that corner on the sales rack right at the back and that’s all there is for women, you’ll be like: ‘That kind of does suck.’ One guy came up to me at one of my women’s events and said he’d never felt so uncomfortable in a golf space in his life because he was the only guy. That’s literally how we live our entire time. 

Do you feel like progress is being made?

More people are inviting women, so more guys are inviting their girlfriends or dads inviting their daughters. That, for me, is the most impactful thing anyone can do – and it’s not that difficult. People may have said no to an invite a couple of years ago, but they might say yes now. 

It’s so much easier to get into the game. When I started, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t go out because I haven’t got my golf shoes.’ I literally cried the night before I was about to go out on a golf course for the first time because I only had leggings, not golf trousers. 

Ah, the issue of dress codes…

I play at Foxhills and there’s no dress code – it’s super chilled and super relaxed. Golf courses should be like restaurants – you can have the really fancy ones where you dress up smartly and it’s very proper – and that’s fine for some people. Then you have other people who want to go to Maccy D’s in their trackies. Why would you get rid of either? Both can have a place. 

Social media channels like yours have helped attract more women into the game, too, yes?

Social media has been pretty impactful. There are more normal golfers like me out there. It’s content that can actually be watched. Before no one could be influenced by golf in the slightest because it wasn’t there. When I started, all I needed was that helping hand to get involved in the game, but I couldn’t really find it. Now I want to inspire people and be that helping hand. 

Mia baker giving a putting lesson to Lili Dewrance

Mia and Lili had time for a quick putting lesson after the interview

(Image credit: Olly Curtis)

YouTube has been especially powerful?

YouTube golf videos started with professionals giving teaching lessons. When I started playing golf I didn’t even know what I was going to search; I didn’t know what a slice was, what a hook was, so it wasn’t very helpful for those who hadn’t played the game before. 

My golf content sits more on the entertainment side, so it started with my journey and developed in collabs. I had huge imposter syndrome. Only this year was I like, ‘Ok I’m ready to go into the wild.’

Your content is very relatable, especially for beginners…

I remember playing my first ever golf tournament, and it was a Ladies European Tour event. I’m playing on the Ladies European Tour, in a team! I shanked my first tee shot because I couldn’t hold my club and I was shaking the whole time.

I felt under so much pressure because I’d just built a following and a lot of people were there to watch me. We’d just come out of lockdown and I hadn’t really been on a golf course, and I was just expected to play. It was a little bit different to playing into a net! With my content, I’m really just being me. 

That sounds terrifying – and that can put beginners off, that very first time playing in front of people?

The girls were amazing. They like new people playing, but as a new person playing you think everyone is against you. Women are supportive, whereas men love banter. ‘That was a rubbish putt!’ A girl would be, ‘You can still make par’. I think girls do need to be treated slightly differently. 

Mia baker walking into the practice facilities at Foxhills

(Image credit: Olly Curtis)

What would you say to your beginner self?

I would definitely say to stick to the practice you’re doing, but also reach out more to your friends and see if they’ll come on that same journey. 

Which type of content does best for you on your social channels?

The ones that get quite a lot of views tend to be those cool creative shots from really awkward situations, like a low punch shot with a 5-iron through narrow trees over water – and it lands on the green! I’m not actually a very viral person on social media. I create content based on my journey and development. It's never been my intention to be viral because I don't want to be the one hit wonder. 

You have your YouTube channel (@miaellax) and Instagram, but you don’t use Twitter. 

I hate people arguing so Twitter doesn’t work for me. I love YouTube because of the long-form content. People really get to know you,  you get to show your personality, and there will be someone somewhere that can relate to that.

What are your plans for the future?

My goal changes all the time but for me, there are so many avenues of women’s golf. I just want to continue to use my influence. I’m always thinking just how many people there are out there who have never played who might just have the best golf swing in the world. I just want people to know that I am trying my best and I'm just trying to inspire more people to play golf. I don't have a desire to have millions and millions of followers for no purpose. 


Mia Baker and Lili Dewrance

Mia Baker and Lili Dewrance

(Image credit: Olly Curtis )

I first came across Mia after seeing her filming content at my golf club, Foxhills. Other than Golf Fitness Girl, I hadn’t seen any other female golf influencers at the club, so I was intrigued to know who she was. Her infectious smile and gorgeous golf outfits caught my attention, and I immediately asked my boyfriend, "Who is that girl?" His response - that's Mia, the happiest golfer on YouTube. I thought he was joking at first, but what I've now come to realise is that Mia truly lives up to this name. I immediately followed her Instagram page and quickly became captivated by her Reels and YouTube videos that speak to young female golfers. 

Having recently started my golf journey, I felt a lack of connection and inspiration when scrolling through other golf-related TikTok and Instagram accounts. Mia’s page felt different because she stripped things back to basics while remaining positive and encouraging about progressing as a beginner golfer. I loved her focus on community and female friendships; she came across as genuinely passionate about creating a space for female golfers to connect and interact.

I think when you connect with someone on social media and regularly engage with their content, it can feel as if you genuinely know them. There's always the risk that content creators may appear differently in real life because Instagram is often their livelihood, and they may portray a glamorised or overly positive version of themselves. I had spoken to Mia a couple of times on social media, in passing at Foxhills and at the Women’s Golf Academy launch at Pitch London, but today was the first time I was able to get on the course with her and see the real Mia Baker. 

Lili Dewrance chats to Mia Baker over drinks at Foxhills

(Image credit: Olly Curtis)

During our practice putting session, Mia displayed a natural coaching style that was both encouraging and effortless. I felt reassured as she understands what it's like to be a woman trying a heavily male-dominated sport and wanting to prove to herself that she can achieve. I've seen the way she encourages Jenny and Emily on the Golf Girls YouTube channel, and this was exactly how she interacted with me at the driving range and on the putting green. We went through a couple of fun drills, analysed my golf swing, and discussed ways to work up to playing the full course. One of Mia’s suggestions was to organise a scramble on the Par 3 with some of the other women from the Pitch Academy. This idea excited me, and I am keen to make it happen. 

The interaction was invaluable, and I can confirm that Mia is even more inspiring in real life than she is on Instagram. And yes, she is one of the happiest golfers I've ever met! 

Dan Parker
Staff Writer

Dan is a Staff Writer and has been with the Golf Monthly team since 2021. Dan graduated with a Masters degree in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and primarily looks after equipment reviews and buyer's guides, specializing in golf shoe and golf cart reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes since he joined Golf Monthly and is an expert in the field. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 7.8 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. 

Dan is currently playing: 

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 

Fairway: TaylorMade Stealth 2 15°Ping G425 Max 21°

Hybrid: Ping G425 

Irons: Cobra King Tec UtilityPing i59 (5-PW) 

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: Wilson Staff Infinite Buckingham

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x Pix

With contributions from