Amidst a global pandemic, everything’s going virtual. Schools, work, conferences, and traveling. Yes, traveling. With Airbnb affected by the global shutdown of the travel industry, hosts and real estate investors on the platform are now offering Airbnb Online Experiences. What are these experiences, and should you offer them? Read through for our tips…
Before anything, what are Airbnb Experiences?
Airbnb Experiences is a feature on Airbnb that launched in 2016, and up until earlier this year, it offered events and activities by local hosts as well as organizations in different parts of the world. These experiences allowed Airbnb guests to embark on adventures, learn new skills, and see the world from a more local perspective. Recently, with the global COVID-19 outbreak, physical Airbnb Experiences were suspended as major cities began to shut down.
Owning an Airbnb in 2020 has become challenging due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hosts worldwide are suffering from a low Airbnb occupancy rate, and it could be a while before things go back to “normal”.
In comes Airbnb Online Experiences
Even with a worldwide shutdown, Airbnb is still committed to helping travelers around the world quench their wanderlust, and to providing users with the opportunity to explore different corners of the world. At the same time, the company wanted to introduce a way for hosts to earn an income during this time.
The answer? Airbnb Online Experiences, a new take on regular experiences – but all virtual, all from the comfort of your own home, and all quarantine-friendly. In April, the home-sharing service officially launched Airbnb Online Experiences. These experiences, which run between an hour and 90 minutes, are being offered at affordable prices ranging between $10 – $30 USD, with some being higher. The company has also partnered with several organizations in local communities to provide free experiences for the elderly and more at-risk populations.
Can’t enjoy Turkish coffee? Get your (strong) caffeine fix for the day by learning how to make it. Craving some heartwarming pasta? Make it step by step with an Italian host across the world. Want to go to a jazz concert? Also available. Looking for a new exercise sequence? Join one of many athletic sessions on Airbnb Online Experiences, including yoga with goats… you read that right! Stung by the travel bug? Go on a virtual tour of more than 30 countries with a variety of experiences.
I don’t like clichés, but the world really is a click away.
How do you host virtual Experiences on Airbnb?
To set up Airbnb Online Experiences, you need to sign up as an Airbnb host and then create an “experience page”. This will allow you to display the experience using photos or videos. After vetting you, Airbnb gives you the option to host an online experience via Zoom (is anyone not using Zoom these days?).
Hosts will still pay a cut to Airbnb as a service fee to cover operations, and Airbnb guests would book experiences the same way they would handle regular bookings.
Is it a good idea to host Airbnb experiences online?
In short, yes. While it may have not been your original plan when you decided to become an Airbnb host, sometimes you have to adapt to be able to survive tough circumstances. At the moment, shifting to offering online experiences is the best thing you could do to generate money from your Airbnb investment property.
Tips for offering great Airbnb virtual experiences:
First and foremost…
Make sure you learn and follow Airbnb’s quality standards for offering Experiences. Even if you already have an Airbnb host profile, Airbnb will still need to vet the specific experience you’re offering. Some things Airbnb will look for in your experience page include:
- Information about you, and how well experienced and knowledgeable you are in the specific experience you’re offering
- How interactive your experience is
- How unique your experience is
- Whether or not you contribute to Airbnb’s community
After reviewing your experience page, Airbnb will give you the option to set your availability and then begin hosting.
Make the session interactive and entertaining
Otherwise, what differentiates Airbnb experiences from watching a YouTube video or an Instagram live? Make sure to go around the room (Zoom), and have attendees introduce themselves. Come up with ways to allow guests to connect, learn, and interact with Airbnb hosts – or experience providers. Remember that guests are paying for this experience, and their satisfaction is a vital component to the success of Airbnb online experiences.
With an increasing number of Airbnb hosts shifting to providing virtual “travel” experiences, there’s a plethora of culturally diverse activities available. And while this is great for users, it’s a challenge for hosts because you’d need to get creative and offer something distinctive.
I mean, think yoga with sheep, and work from there…
Offer something special from your town or city
When guests search for experiences on Airbnb, they’re usually looking for a more local and tailored experience. If I’m searching for an experience in New York City, I wouldn’t just want to see Times Square. Instead, I’d want to find the best grandma’s style cannoli in Little Italy or browse through a vintage store in Brooklyn. Maybe I’d even want to see the Friends Apartment Building?
It could also be none of the above. But you get the idea…think local and think unique quirks.
A few final words…
Airbnb took a brilliant step in a way to pivot from its original offering while still maintaining the sense of community. People are seeing the world from their homes as they practice social distancing, and hosts have the opportunity to make an income – truly the best of both (pandemic) worlds. The company is continuing to encourage hosts to add experiences, especially with an elongated quarantine on the horizon. So go ahead and set up your Airbnb Online Experiences page, and make sure to follow the above Airbnb tips to present the best experience you can.
“Human connection is at the core of what we do” – Catherine Powell, Head of Airbnb Experiences. And until people can go back to “normal” after the effects of Coronavirus have worn off, we can work together to preserve human connection virtually.