Airbnb first became known as the largest platform for booking short-term rentals. The company has since expanded its offerings with a platform called Airbnb Experiences. Launched in 2016, the program is bringing local flavor to travelers who use Airbnb. At the same time, it’s also providing a new source of revenue for Airbnb hosts.
Take a closer look at what the program offers and what benefits it brings to both hosts and guests.
Airbnb Experiences are activities that guests can book during their stay somewhere. Local hosts lead these activities in each area. They are more than traditional guided tours or classes. Anyone who has a creative passion or hobby can sign up to be part of the program.
The platform doesn’t only serve a single market. Some travelers use it to meet new people, while others use it as a way to discover local attractions. Experiences can attract bookings from group travelers as well as solo travelers.
An experience can range from cooking classes to outdoor activities. It must go beyond a “typical tour” that guests could get from an agency, and be unique. Airbnb doesn’t limit what hosts may offer as an experience, but the host needs to lead it. The experience can last for several hours up to a few days.
Keep in mind this is a separate service on Airbnb from Airbnb property hosting. Hosts who want to offer experiences don’t have to host overnight guests at a property. Hosts also are free to list experiences as often as they like with no hosting restrictions.
One thing that both platforms have in common is the requirement of business licenses for hosts. This is especially true if an experience involves food, alcohol, or transportation.
Hosts are not allowed to offer experiences unless they have first been approved by Airbnb. To offer an experience, hosts need to apply to join the program.
Hosts can submit an application for an Airbnb Experience to airbnb.com/host/experiences. Airbnb will then contact them to let them know if their application has been approved or not. The waiting time is generally around two weeks, but it can be less.
Hosts who want to take part in the Experiences program pay 20% of the final price as a commission fee to Airbnb. Airbnb deducts this fee when it processes the payment. Although the fee may sound high, it allows Airbnb to provide help and tools for hosts to manage their experiences.
It’s important to note that there is a difference between the Experience fee and the regular Airbnb service fee. If you own a rental property and offer an experience, you will be charged separately for both by Airbnb.
Whether you should offer an experience depends on your background. If you want to increase your earnings and have a skill you can offer, Airbnb Experiences could be for you.
The platform was launched in New York City in 2016 with an inventory of 150 Experiences. It soon expanded to include major cities around the world. It has benefited Airbnb because it has become able to operate in cities where there are restrictions or bans on Airbnb properties.
According to CEO Brian Chesky, as of October 2017, the platform had grown 12x in size from January 2017. Chesky stated that Experiences was growing about 13 times faster than the Airbnb rental property business was at the same time. As far as earnings go, the Experiences program reportedly made the company $1 billion in the second quarter of 2019.
Guests can pay anywhere between $25-$150 for an experience. On average, guests will pay around $55 per person to book an experience. In 2020, Airbnb launched its Online Experiences program, further diversifying the platform.
As of 2020, there are more than 40,000 Experiences on the platform in more than 1000 cities around the world. For guests looking to book and experience, there are a few categories to choose from. These categories include:
Airbnb offers an “Experiences in the spotlight” section to highlight popular experiences. Users can search for spotlight Experiences in major cities around the world.
In 2019, Airbnb named Puebla in Mexico, Kaikoura in New Zealand, and Xiamen in China as some of its top trending destinations for Experiences.
Airbnb also published a list of its most popular Experiences that took 2019 by storm. These Airbnb Experiences were:
With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic for most of the year of 2020, travel has slowed down internationally. Due to travel disruptions, Airbnb Experiences have become more important than ever before. In April 2020, Airbnb launched its Online Experiences program for hosts and guests.
Online Experiences are classes, performances, and shows offered by hosts online. Guests pay a fee to hosts to book an online experience, much like with regular experiences. The only difference is that guests can now enjoy an experience from the comfort of their own homes. As of August 2020, Online Experiences have brought in more than $2 million for hosts around the world.
Airbnb’s Online Experiences have become a new way for people to connect globally. It’s also become a primary source of income for hosts who have lost business due to COVID-19. Some of the most popular virtual Airbnb Experiences include:
As life continues under the “new normal”, Airbnb continues to evolve to meet the needs of hosts and guests. Moving Airbnb Experiences online is one of the ways it is doing this. The Online Experiences program has proven popular and may remain, even after regular travel resumes.
Airbnb hosts don’t need to rent out a property to offer an experience. Many hosts who do already rent have joined the Experiences Program to increase their income. As an Airbnb host, you’ve likely already obtained a license to run a business in your city.
As a result, adding an Airbnb Experience is a great way to bring in extra income. Not only can you promote the Airbnb Experience on its own, but you can also promote it to your property rental guests. Let them know that you offer an Airbnb Experience, and you can sell it as an upgrade to your property listing.
Here’s why you’ll benefit from becoming both an Airbnb Experiences host and an Airbnb property host:
Having you as their Airbnb host and tour guide makes things simpler for guests. It will also give them peace of mind to know that you will be available to show them around.
Hosts can also accommodate more guests per occasion. While a property may only be able to host a few guests at a time, an Airbnb Experience can often host an entire group.
Hosts must also meet some stringent requirements when it comes to feedback. If a guest leaves a less-than five-star or negative review for an experience, Airbnb will follow up with them. As a result, hosts may need to work even harder to earn stellar ratings and maintain their presence on the platform.
Hosting an experience can boost your booking rate and increase your revenue. Another way to increase your earnings is to streamline your business operations with vacation rental software, like iGMS.
iGMS is an all-in-one vacation rental software that helps hosts run their businesses on autopilot. By automating repetitive tasks, you can free up precious time to focus on other important business concerns. With iGMS, you can:
Phoebe Gunning is a content writer in the Marketing Department at iGMS. She is passionate about the vacation rental industry, notably helping hosts make the most out of their vacation rental businesses. Some of her hobbies include reading, traveling and drinking a good cup of coffee.