One year of hosting Airbnb Experiences
In 2017, Airbnb introduced Experiences, taking hosting to another level where local hosts can take tourists to do things they love about the city. The company has been promoting Experiences across all their marketing channels, achieving a 10X growth in most cities and 20X growth in Toronto. Compared to the stable ‘home’ business, these numbers are staggering. I believe this new feature is a very good move, as the company’s home business has been challenged by major cities and tourist destinations around the world on their ‘homes’ business. Most cities are drafting, or in the process of regulating short-term rentals which will affect Airbnb’s home business tremendously.
Related article: (https://casadell.com/short-term-rentals-new-regulations-in-toronto/)
Being an Airbnb host, I was very excited about the idea, and signed up for hosting an Experience when it was launched in Toronto. I offer running tours across downtown Toronto. Initially, I offered many experiences to see which ones get most responses/bookings from the guests. So I created 4 running tours, covering all the major tourist attractions in downtown:
- Explore heritage sites of Old Toronto (https://www.airbnb.ca/experiences/73780)
- Run along Scenic Waterfront Trail (https://www.airbnb.ca/experiences/79005)
- Downtown Discovery Run Tour (https://www.airbnb.ca/experiences/86509)
- See tourist attractions on 10-mile run (https://www.airbnb.ca/experiences/86510)
The first 3 tours are 5-miles-long, take about 1.5 hours, and the last one is an all encompassing tour of downtown, 10 miles long and takes about 3 hours. I have been conducting these tours for over a year now, exclusively on Airbnb. The response has been mixed. I find that mostly people who are into running book the tours. The most popular tour is the 10 mile run, booked by runners who are training for races and use this tour as part of their training schedule. It is completely understandable as I cover 20 – 30 miles a week for my training schedule.
For folks that are interested in hosting their own Experience, below are some tips and observations:
- Great opportunity to meet people 1-one-1 and learn about their journeys, cultures, and experiences. I take this as an opportunity to learn about the cities/countries they lived in. I have hosted people from the US, Japan, china, India, South Africa, New-Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Germany, England and Madagascar (its a country in Africa, not the movie 😉 ). One of my guests was kind enough to offer me a job referral with Amazon.
- Networking with fellow hosts. By far one of the biggest advantages of Airbnb is that you get to meet like minded people who enjoy hosting and meeting new people. As an Experience host, I get to attend some experiences for free.
My favorite experience so far – https://www.airbnb.ca/experiences/99860
- Photo & videos – Airbnb offered a professional photographer to shoot videos of my running tours. Although each video took 3 hours to shoot, and another 4 months to get approval from Airbnb, they were totally worth it. The videos and photos are top notch. Although today, Airbnb is not offering these services to any new hosts.
Keep in mind:
- Airbnb is still learning about experiences. So expect longer response times from Customer Service. The platform is not as advanced as homes yet, with many features, such as co-hosting etc. If you start now, you get to provide feedback on the platform and see them implemented in the future. Pretty cool to visualize your suggestions from a company this big in size.
- Number of bookings are still low. So far I have only had 20 bookings and offered at the least two tours a-week. Many times I do not get a single booking, especially in summer. And when there is a booking, it’s usually just one or two people signing up. Although for me, it doesn’t really matter as I have to put in the miles anyways. But if I was a host looking to make money, I wouldn’t be doing this.
- Pricing is competitive. If your price is higher than your competitors who offer similar experiences then nobody will sign up. Guests have a pretty good idea beforehand of how much they would like to pay for a certain experience. I charge $15 for the 5 miles tour (1.5 hours) and $25 for the 10 miles tour (3 hours) and Airbnb takes 20% commission out of that. So if only one person signs up, I get paid less than minimum wage in Ontario.
Airbnb Experience is a good way to share your passion and love for the city with others. It has the potential to become even bigger than the homes business. I encourage all of you try out hosting an ‘experience’ and if you do, feel free to use my referral code to sign up. You will get you $130 (code # www.airbnb.ca/x/casadelli)
Airbnb is turning into a marketplace for enabling people to offer services to other people, starting from homes, trips/experiences, music concerts, social experiments, pickups & dropoffs, and much more. Watch out this space for more.
Casadell is a one-stop shop for management and marketing of furnished properties on Airbnb. We have been working with hosts in Toronto for 3 years, and maintain very high standards. We have over 90% 5 star reviews from our guests. Recently, we started working on co-living projects, where entrepreneurs, young professionals and recent immigrants stay together on monthly commitments and share their experiences. So if you are a homeowner looking to rent your place and you are not comfortable with annual lease or short-term rentals, give us a call. We will be happy to work with you and make the city a more affordable place.