What are Airbnb Experiences?

Back in November, Airbnb unfurled Experiences.

Basically, locals can host, well, experiences.

“Book experiences designed and led by some of the most interesting people out there,” Airbnb states on its website. “You’ll get to unleash the sushi chef or street artist you’ve always wanted to be.”

It’s a way for travelers to connect with locals, immerse themselves in the city’s culture and experience something totally new — or spark up an old hobby.

How to Be a Host

“You actually have to qualify,” said Conley. “I’m not going to just go put my experience up and I’m off to the races as an Experience host.”

To start, host hopefuls must create an experience through Airbnb’s website. Hosts are expected to be credible (“knowledgeable about my subject or skilled at my activity, and can demonstrate this to guests”), genuine (“passionate about hosting and meeting people”), and empathetic (“I keep in mind that each group I host will have varying levels of familiarity with my subject”).

Experiences, meanwhile, must provide unique access (“an experience that your guests wouldn’t be able to find on their own”), participation (“guests should be able to fully take part in your experience by participating in two or more activities—not just observe them”), and perspective (“Every experience should have some sort of personal meaning”).

After agreeing to meet those standards, applicants much supply each detail about the experience, from the time it will take to what’s provided to the cost for guests.

Being Vetted

“More than anything, one lesson we’ve had is the process of vetting and having quality control is very important for Experiences,” said Conley.

Along those lines, the company is still learning what makes a great host, and how they can identify them—especially on a global scale.

Making Money

About half of the Experiences now available, which vary from a couple hours to multi-day excursions, are less than $200 per person, according to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.

Since each Experience would vary in the number of participants, it’s not yet clear how much money a host could make. (In many major cities, renting out homes gets hosts several thousand dollars a year.) But as with most of the gig economy, the earning potential will typically increase depending on the time and effort dedicated by hosts.

What Makes a Great Host

“Passion,” said Conley, when asked what makes a great host. “Sometimes the passion comes through in an application it can come through in an interview.”

But of course passion isn’t all someone needs. “Having experience in what they’re doing,” he said, adding that “someone who’s naturally empathetic” will be better at understanding the guests who come from all over the world.

In previous years, Airbnb has emphasized the personal connections made through the platform. The company tells a story of itself that is more than a rental service; Chesky calls Airbnb a “people-powered platform,” and says it’s more about a trip than a place to sleep. Those connections, however, have been separate from the financial transaction of renting a room. Now, with Experiences, the connection will have a dollar sign attached to it.

“Many [hosts] are doing it for financial reasons, but if the whole experience becomes commoditized, you really do take some of the magic away,” said Conley.

Expert Tips

Thibault has several rentals including one in Bali earning $7,000 per week on Airbnb. He recommends setting a price lower than your competitors until you have three positive reviews on your property. He also says, “Ask people to contact you. Your listing text should not be just a description. Speak to your target, use words like ‘Contact me now’, ‘Ask me now about my special rates for veterans’, etc.”

When it comes to pricing your rental, Steven from Villa Cappelli offers this advice, “I would think I good rule of thumb is to slightly under-price hotels in your area.  That way you are offering a much more intimate, cozy experience for guest, but also at an extremely competitive price.”

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