“Book experiences designed and led by some of the most interesting people out there. You’ll get to unleash the sushi chef or street artist you’ve always wanted to be.” – Airbnb
Today I attended an unveiling of sorts from Airbnb’s local Los Angeles offices about their newest platform – Airbnb Experiences. The platform allows users to “create unique experiences around your city, and earn extra money by bringing others along.”
The concept sounds nearly equal to Side Tours, a platform that arrived a couple of years ago offering alternative and eclectic tours from locals in major cities. When I discovered the platform it was only available in New York and Chicago, I believe. A quick Google search revealed that Side Tours is either no longer or resurfaced under a different name and branding. Either way, the idea that one can operate intimate, custom experiences or tours from the comfort of their neighborhood is not necessarily new. LA Gang Tours in South Los Angeles and this one offer direct access to historical areas popularized by movies and “gangsta rap music”. And even then, L.A. was late to the party. Favela tours in Brazil have been a popular tourist attraction for several years. This one is 100% operated by residents. However, Airbnb Experiences is now the only dedicated platform to offer such off-beat tours across several regions. Additionally, it is the only platform that has explicitly outreached to small businesses and community organizations – which is backed by the company’s promise to promote meaningful, impactful, and diverse experiences that resonate with those seeking genuine and community-focused activities. Speaking of which, nonprofit organizations that participate in the creation of social impact experiences receive 100% of the proceeds and all fees waived by Airbnb. Wow.
Airbnb Experiences Hosts are the new Micro-Influencers of and for your Brand.
The interesting thing about Airbnb Experiences is that it essentially creates another social medium for micro-influencers to affiliate with businesses and brands in a decidedly human way. This is empowering for a small business owner or micro-entrepreneur, as it allows a business to build their branding and extend their marketing activities beyond social media into the open palms of a targeted and interested audience.
Users of the platform curate their own experiences to highlight a specific theme for guests. To ensure that each ‘tour’ is of quality and purpose there is a vetting process. All experiences must be submitted for approval and satisfy Airbnb’s quality control guidelines. And if you’re wondering about fees, Airbnb takes 20% – which includes insurance and the ease of booking your activity through its app, for customers.
How do you create a winning Airbnb Experience? Here’s a cheatsheet of bullet points overheard in the presentation:
- Credibility | You should be “deeply passionate and knowledgeable about your subject or skilled at your activity, and can demonstrate this to guests.”
- Access | You should “provide an experience that your guests wouldn’t be able to find on their own.”
- Perspective | Your experience “should have some sort of personal meaning. Offer an original perspective that your guests might not have considered before.”
- Participation | Your attendees “should be able to fully take part in your experience by participating in activities – not just observing them.”
It will be interesting how this venture changes the way businesses market themselves. The days of casting your net in the ocean hoping to catch what may are long gone. Businesses that thrive find success identifying niche communities, aligning with influencers, and outreaching locally. Can Airbnb Experiences prevent the infiltration of bigger competitors with bigger marketing budgets? We’ll see.