So you want to host for Airbnb – but you don’t own a home or have an extra room you can offer guests. What do you do? You consider hosting an Airbnb Experience! If you have extensive knowledge about your city (or a unique perspective on that history), you might have what it takes to Airbnb Experience host. If you can design a killer food tour, or guide people on hikes, or paint and share your studio space with travelers – you could monetize your passion and know-how and access to Airbnb guests. Ready to find out how? Read on for the breakdown!
What are Airbnb Experiences?
In 2017, Airbnb looked to the future desires of travelers using their platform and launched Experiences – custom events hosted by passionate local guides in cities around the world. They’ve grown this section of their model at a moderate pace to gauge traveler interest and ensure the Experiences offered were upholding their high standards. As of last year, they’ve expanded Experiences to be available in 1000 cities.
Travelers can book experiences that are contained in a single afternoon or even run for multiple days. These events range from cycling and snacking through hidden Bangkok to hiking with goats in Pioneertown, California, to a day trip on camels at the Atlas Mountains in northwestern Africa. When you’re looking for unique, unforgettable experiences, Airbnb aims to make sure you find them.
These excursions, classes, tours and more are booked separately from lodging you might book on Airbnb (although some hosts may also offer Experiences – like artists opening up their home studios for creative classes). Experiences may cost as little as $20 per person up into the hundreds of dollars, all depending on the offering.
What are they looking for?
Do you think you might have a trip or tour or class to offer travelers to your city? Great! Let me tell you what Airbnb is looking for.
There are a few key pieces you must have for a successful Airbnb Experiences listing – it must showcase your expertise, grant visitors access to places or communities they wouldn’t otherwise have, and foster a connection between you and your guests. In other words, you must be passionate and knowledgeable about your topic or activity, while also being patient and establishing a good rapport with your guests. Your Experiences booked for Airbnb guests must also be exclusive to them – you can’t mix Airbnb guests with guests you’ve booked from elsewhere. Airbnb also requires you to host the Experience even if just one guest books for a given excursion or class – they have no mechanic for minimum guest counts at this time.
You must have something to offer that a traveler can’t gain access to anywhere else. Airbnb is not looking for folks who give impersonal tours to large groups, or for people providing services like airport transportation. They also won't approve Experiences that are nothing more than local events with no specific host or anything else a guest could easily find on their own – like commercial entry to touristy attractions.
However, if you’re a well-known and experienced pottery artist who wants to open your studio to visitors and teach them your skills and history about pottery in your locale? Go for it. Are you well-versed in local folklore in your small town and want to offer tours focused on those stories and other folk life? Sounds like a potential winner! Maybe you own a herd of goats and are passionate about yoga – you know where I’m going with this one, don’t you? Goat yoga’s so hot right now.
Pro-tip: There’s a rating requirement for Airbnb Experiences. They only want to offer stellar Experiences to their guests, so if your rating drops too low, they may drop you from the program.
What’s Airbnb’s cut?
Airbnb lets you set your own prices for any Experiences you offer through their platform – and you should make sure that price reflects the time you invest in the Experience, the cost of any resources you must provide guests, extra insurance you might need, etc. You should also consider the cut Airbnb takes off the top.
While Airbnb only takes 3% from home bookings, they take 20% from Experiences. It may seem steep, but consider everything that Airbnb provides you with – they handle all the payment processing, provide insurance coverage up to $1 million dollars on many Experiences (check the fine print), and (of course) give you space to promote your service on their popular platform.
Protip: If you partner with a nonprofit to provide Experiences, Airbnb actually waives their fee.
How do you get started?
The first thing that you need to do is read through all the information Airbnb provides for you – they have extensive pages covering the standards they require to be met for their Experiences, and what they’re not looking for. You can read up on the insurance coverage provided, and find basic information on when extra insurance might be required – for example, if your Experience involves driving a vehicle or dealing with food, their insurance won’t necessarily cover that. They also recommend that you check your local laws to determine whether you need a business or other special license in order to legally offer the Experience you’re planning.
Once you’re sure that you have a winning idea, it’s time to start working on your listing. The most successful listings on Airbnb include attractive and informative photos, enticing descriptions that cover all the necessary details, and all other information required by Airbnb, from category to title to time required and more. For a better chance at both being approved by Airbnb and attracting guests once you are, check out other Experiences being offered on Airbnb right now. Pay attention to what they do, and then do the same thing – in your own words with your own photographs, of course. For additional help on building your listing, check out Airbnb’s blog: especially articles like “How to Build a Magical 5-Star Experience.”
Once you’ve given it your all, submit it to Airbnb and sit back. Their team will review your listing and ultimately decide whether they’ll give you that approved stamp and activate your Experience on their platform. When they do, you can set up your availability and get rolling.
What Experience Hosts Are Saying
Some hosts report that it can take quite some time to build a solid income from offering Experiences on Airbnb, and it requires some serious hustle on your part. You need to ensure that you’re getting bookings and you’re getting positive reviews – in order to have good visibility and attract even more bookings. Building a social media presence may help in this regard, and perhaps building relationships with local home hosts who’d be willing to promote your Experiences to their guests.
Another strategy I’ve seen recommended is to price your Experiences low to start so you can attract guests right away. As you build your reputation with positive reviews, you can gradually increase your rates to the point where you’re making good money. Of course, you must find that sweet spot between covering your own expenses for the Experience and a low price at the beginning – and, when you increase, you want to make sure you don’t price your guests out of your offering.
So, what Experience are you going to offer? I can’t wait to hear all about it!