Imagine going on a tour or activity that isn’t focused on a particular site, or isn’t your typical guided tour. A tour that fully immerses you in the tour and activity provider’s true passion, in their local community: Be it goat yoga; cooking classes; hiking with a pro; or visiting a popular tourist attraction like the Louvre, but with an art historian who happens to be a comedian.
That’s what Airbnb Experiences offers.
Airbnb Experiences are activities that are designed by local hosts or tour operators around the world. You may already be familiar with Airbnb’s main offering, a platform that connects local homeowners with travelers to that particular destination. However, they’re no longer just showing travelers where to stay, but also what to do.
What is Airbnb Experiences?
Airbnb Experiences connects local tour and activity providers with travelers who want to experience unique tours that they can’t book anywhere else. Indeed, there is increasing demand for more authentic tours and experiences. A Booking.com study of 20,500 global travelers revealed that 62 percent of travelers want to experience new cultures, 52 percent want to taste local cuisines and 33 percent want to embrace meeting new people.
According to TripAdvisor, although iconic landmarks and sites remain the top booked tours by travelers, cultural experiences like cooking classes and food tours grew by 51 percent and 49 percent, respectively, in 2018.
People are indeed calling for unique tours and experiences, and Airbnb heard that call. With their slogan, “live like a local”, Airbnb Experiences offers niche tours that allow travelers to enjoy their hobbies and interests, in a completely new way and in a completely new culture.
The best part about it is that tour guides and activity operators don’t need to host homes on Airbnb in order to host an experience; and travelers don’t need to stay in an Airbnb home in order to take part in an Airbnb Experience. Airbnb Experiences is open to all.
That’s quite exciting.
Here are the ABCs of Airbnb Experiences:
- It caters to all tourists during their stay in a particular place; as well as domestic tourists who want to experience their locale in a different way.
- Experiences are led by locals and go beyond the traditional tours and experiences that typical tour and activity providers offer.
- Any local can sign up on the Airbnb Experiences platform and share their passion with the world.
- There isn’t a single particular market for Airbnb Experiences. Some tourists use the platform to meet new people while others use it to partake in unique local experiences.
- It appeals to both group and solo travelers.
- Airbnb Experiences is a completely different service from Airbnb hosting. Hosts don’t need to have overnight guests in their home in order to partake, unless the experience calls for it.
- Airbnb Experiences hosts can host whenever their schedule permits, with no restrictions as to the number of times they can put on a particular experience.
So, how do Airbnb Experiences compare to other online activity providers and aggregators like GetYourGuide?
Let’s examine the competitive tour and activity landscape for a minute.
Airbnb faces competition to quite a few big players in the market.
Airbnb Experiences places itself in the market as a platform that offers unique and exclusive opportunities to travelers who want to “live like a local.” In essence, they are targeting those travelers that don’t want to be seen as “tourists”. However, that market segment is relatively small.
With global revenue from tours and activities estimated at a staggering $135 billion by Phocuswright, only 4 percent of that revenue has been captured through online vendors such as Viator and GetYourGuide. It’s clear, from the data, that people have yet to embrace online resellers when it comes to booking tours. Why?
Because tour companies have not fully tapped into the online market yet, so travelers are also slow to adapt to sudden changes. For example, most travelers are comfortable booking their accommodation (on the other side of the world) online because that is familiar to them — it’s an online travel market that is well established.
When it comes to booking tours and activities, travelers prefer to wait until they’re at the destination before they book. They want recommendations from the hotel they’re staying at, and from locals/other tourists they meet. In fact, according to Phocuswright, tourists don’t know the majority of the tour operation companies that operate in their destination.
So why is Airbnb tapping into such a small market segment with big competitors?
Airbnb Experiences is not really trying to compete with traditional tour operators. They want to appeal to that small and alternative market segment that wants to truly travel like locals. Additionally, the maximum group size for Airbnb Experiences is 10 so the company isn’t trying to compete with traditional tour and activity companies. At least not yet.
On the other hand, their competitor, GetYourGuide, believe they are set to claim a bigger market share once travelers become accustomed to booking tours and activities ahead of time. They are also banking on the aforementioned trend that people still prefer visiting iconic monuments and sites. That is why they are focused on curating traditional experiences offered by established and professional tour guides. That model is certainly easily scalable.
Airbnb, on the other hand, have decided to go with a unique model, which some have criticized as being too niche and hard to scale.
Perhaps Airbnb is banking on obtaining more trust with travelers to entice them to book tours ahead of time. Perhaps what they can bank on, to compete with the big boys (Viator, GetYourGuide and Klook) is that they have an aggregating platform, where both novice and experienced tour operators can coexist. So far, it’s working.
And you can get in on it.
Should you host an Airbnb Experience?
The main reason to host an experience on Airbnb is that it is currently one of the largest online travel resellers in the world, servicing millions of travelers. It’s simply a great opportunity to get your tours and offerings in front of potential customers.
Although that exposure is irresistible, you should bear in mind the type of travelers Airbnb Experiences wants to attract: Travelers that want to live like locals and experience truly unique local tours. Indeed, they are not interested in the traditional or “cookie-cutter” high-volume tours and activities. They want unique and bespoke tours that cannot be easily found elsewhere.
Are you ready, willing, and enthusiastic to offer that? If not, Airbnb Experiences may not be the platform for you.
However, if you’re ready to dive in, here’s what you need to know about getting started as an Airbnb Experience host.
Getting started as an Airbnb Experiences host
Create a unique profile
Since Airbnb only wants to offer travelers unique cultural experiences, you need to set yourself apart from the get-go. You should create a unique description of your tour and activity offering that sets you apart from the competition. (Consider making use of visuals like videos to entice travelers and help you stand out.)
If you’re not sure about whether your company is the right fit for Airbnb Experiences, why not consider offering a specialized tour that is not offered by your competition? Indeed, it’s a good opportunity (if nothing else) to test out new tours or one of your less popular tours.
Review the Airbnb Experiences guidelines
Before you sign up, it may be a good idea to read through the Airbnb Experiences guidelines. Once you’ve read through the guidelines, you can fill out a (straightforward) online application. Once approved, you can begin hosting.
Understand the Airbnb Experiences commission fees
There is a big difference in commissions fees between Airbnb’s accommodation business and their Experiences service. Whilst they charge a 3 percent commission fee (and charge guests additional fees) via the accommodation service, they charge a 20 percent commission per booking for their Experiences service.
You need to keep the 20 percent commission fee in mind as you determine your price structure (the commission fee is deducted before you receive your payments).
The Airbnb Experiences Calendar
Airbnb has a calendar to help you manage your bookings on its platform. However, they don’t have the capability to connect their calendar to your own reservation system. That means that you have to manually keep track of your reservations or find a way to import Airbnb bookings into your own reservation system.
If you’re using Regiondo as your booking software, you can manually import your Airbnb bookings. No account yet? Start your free trial today.
Payments and Insurance
Airbnb issues payment within 24 hours of hosting your activity or tour. The payment is sent to the payment method you choose, which varies by country. Local insurance and licensing cover are up to you — Airbnb does not provide free insurance cover against liability claims above $1 million.
Consider the guest minimums
There are no guest minimums on Airbnb Experiences. That means that you have to hold your tour or activity even if it is booked by only one customer. There are however rare circumstances in which you can cancel a reservation due to an emergency. If you repeatedly cancel reservations, Airbnb reserves the right to delist you.
Once you have gone through those criteria, you will be able to make an informed decision about whether Airbnb Experiences is suitable for your tour and activity business.
The data doesn’t lie. Travelers today are craving unique travel experiences. Airbnb is feeding that craving and positioning itself to grab a large share of that market. However, it may be a while before they dominate that market.
The competitive landscape is tough, and the fact that travelers have yet to embrace online tour and activity resellers makes it even tougher. But Airbnb is betting on itself, perhaps we should too?
You might also like:
- How to Become a Viator Supplier and What You Need to Get Started
- How to Boost Sales in Asia with Klook
- Reserve with Google: Sell your Tours and Activities Directly on Search Results