What is Airbnb Online Experiences and How to Get Started as a Host

So far 2020 has been a challenging year for the travel industry worldwide. Tour and activity companies are pushing their boundaries to discover new ways to interact with people. During these exceptional circumstances, it is definitely worth exploring the opportunities for engaging with new and existing clients online.

As a tour operator or activity provider, it is vital that you leverage the internet as much as possible. This has never been more true than now. Although you might be already making the most of your website and social media, going beyond the mainstream platforms is what will make a difference. 

So in this post, we decided to introduce Airbnb Online Experiences. This is a new product by Airbnb aiming to help you sell digital experiences, especially during the times of social distancing. Have a read through to explore the unique opportunities you have with the platform and more.

What are Airbnb Online Experiences?

Online Experiences have been introduced by Airbnb amid the unfolding COVID-19 crisis. They are live, interactive video sessions led within the comfort and safe social distance of your own home. From online cooking classes to songwriting and spa sessions, interactive yoga and coffee masterclass, all kinds of unique experiences are welcome on the platform. Hosted on Zoom, they are available on all types of screens and devices.

Those of you providing one of a kind activities and classes or having a unique hobby you can share, should consider hosting an online experience with Airbnb. The platform is a great way to connect with people from around the world and increase online interaction.

Like in-person experiences, they must meet Airbnb’s quality standards as well as some additional requirements. Keep reading to learn how to get started and host your first online experience on Airbnb.

What is exciting about Airbnb Online Experiences? 

As a host, you can reach potentially millions of people around the world. Even though it’s new, the platform is already gaining traction so you can increase your brand awareness.

The second, and arguably most important, reason why you should consider hosting an online experience is that it’s super easy. It’s an out-of-the-box solution that lets you organize and sell your online experience without having to code your own solution. 

And for consumers, the platform stands apart because its online experiences are extremely specialized, in contrast to other basic courses you will find online. Hosts offer their guests special knowledge and unique skills they won’t find elsewhere. 

If you have an idea that you always thought is way too different or brave, Airbnb’s Online Experiences are a great place for you to test and present it. 

 

Getting started with Airbnb Online Experiences

The process of submitting an in-person and online experience for review is the same. Here’s an overview:

  1. Learn about Airbnb’s expectations
  2. Find out what makes experiences different and what Airbnb is looking for.
  3. Create your experience
  4. Add photos, descriptions, and other details 
  5. Submit for review

What is Airbnb looking for in a host?

Before sharing your idea with Airbnb, you need to design the experience and make sure it complies with the relevant quality standards. Consider factors like internet connection, equipment, and filming location. People need to be able to access it easily and follow through without interruptions. 

Above all, you need to be (or hire) a knowledgeable and passionate host who can engage with the audience online.

What is Airbnb looking for in an experience?

An immersive experience that requires a minimum amount of supplies and equipment so that anyone can actively participate. Otherwise, you need to specify what guests should bring when submitting the experience which helps people decide whether or not to book it. 

You also need to make sure that the activity is engaging and invites participation and interaction. The optimal length for new listings is 90 minutes or less.

 

How to make your experience digital?

If you are a tour or activity provider who normally hosts in-person experiences, you can make them digital in a few simple steps.

First of all, think about which unique components of your experience can be performed online. If it is a class, you just need a good location and a few tweaks. Adapt it so that a minimum amount of supplies and professional equipment are required. Make sure the activities included do not take more than 90 minutes in total. 

For example, if you are doing a cooking class, the meals you prepare should not be too complicated and time-consuming. Focus on the overall experience, not the end result. 

The same applies to those of you transforming a city tour into a virtual one. Although it is not the same, you might be able to turn it into an online adventure. 

7 wonders of Lisbon is a great example of how a tour can still be exciting online.  Perhaps choose something special about the places you visit and turn it into a DIY or workshop. Remember, the end result should be an experience, not a boring monologue. 

Last but not least, think about user personas, not buyer personas. You are about to deal with a completely new audience, much broader in terms of demographics and psychographics. Try to stand apart by offering the best experience, not necessarily the lowest price.

If you need help with digitizing your experience, visit the JSMD Group Competence Center. As a way to support our customers and partners during COVID-19, some of our employees are ready to help with consulting and different digital services completely free of charge.

 

Time to set up and start hosting

Once you have decided on an idea, it is time to submit it for review. Airbnb recommends setting up a lower price, to begin with. Once you’ve collected some reviews, you can eventually increase the price. 

Someone from Airbnb will review your experience page and let you know if it’s been approved within 2-4 weeks.

However, your preparation for hosting live video sessions is not over yet. There are a few key details you need to understand before hosting your first online experience:

Filming location

Probably the most important part of making your online experience happen and run smoothly is setting up the ‘filming’ location. Choose a place with minimum background noise that allows plenty of light. Make sure your computer is in good working order and positioned appropriately so that everyone can follow through. 

Exploring Zoom

Once you are ready with the physical location, it is time to explore the Zoom conference platform if you haven’t done so yet. Prior to your experience, Airbnb will share tips for success and other resources to help you prepare for the best results.

Commission fees

Airbnb charges a 20% service fee for both in-person and online experiences. This is to help cover the costs of the services and support they provide, including maintaining liability insurance for most experiences. Sign-up is free.

Maximum group size

Video sessions are limited to small groups of between 1 and 15 guests, based on the theme and type of experience you are hosting. 

Online reviews

Guests can leave reviews as usual and have 30 days to leave feedback after the experience has ended.

Reservations policy

Policies for changes to existing reservations are the same for both online and in-person Airbnb Experiences. Reservations can be amended up to 72 hours before the beginning of the experience. Attendees can also cancel up to 7 days before the start time or within 24 hours of booking.

Refunds policy

For Online Experiences, guests are eligible for a full refund in the event of any technical difficulties. For example, lost or broken audio/video connection due to their own devices or the host’s device.

Conclusion

As we wait for the world of experiences to reopen, Airbnb Online Experiences are a great opportunity to create a brand new revenue stream and boost your cash flow. 

The platform lets you quickly and easily create online experiences while giving you a lot of distribution reach. 

And with the current economic climate, Airbnb’s Online Experiences might even become an important part of your business in the long run.

About Angela Bolchinova
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