While many of us think of Airbnb as an alternative vacation rental and are familiar with being an Airbnb host or guest, the brand itself is much more. The Airbnb Online Experience is a new and exciting way that offers an interactive, virtual experience from anywhere in the world. Share your knowledge and skills with those who want to learn, cook, explore and more. Let’s go through the steps and skills needed to become an Airbnb Experience Host.

Airbnb Experiences 101

Airbnb has introduced a list of unique activities led by hosts around the world that people can enjoy online. It is easy to set up and produce by finding a place you can record, opening a Zoom account, having the proper equipment and then creating a professional experience.

When travel is limited due to the global pandemic, online experiences presents a great opportunity for just about anyone to create a fun new income stream from just about anywhere. These experiences offer worldwide reach and high revenue potential. You can set your own schedule and start off with minimal investment. However, there can also be difficulties. Knowing the demand for your topic may not always be clear, technology can be tricky and having good hosting skills is paramount since Airbnb wants a professional look representing its product. Dealing with the negatives means a better product overall and more revenue as people come to enjoy the Airbnb Experiences.

Once you have the pros and cons in hand, then the simple economics will fall in place. Online experiences bring in great money if done well.  When working with a property listing at $150/night x 25 nights per month less 35% operating expenses, you take can take in about $2400. In contrast, the online experience could bring in more with less work and risk. If you charge $20 per person with 10 people in a session at 8 sessions per week you could earn over $5000 in profit after fees. Far easier to setup with less overhead costs and much greater earning potential.

The Online Application Process

  • You begin by explaining the online experience you are offering.
  • Select the theme of your experience with a second to expand the aspects offered.
  • Make sure you have the expertiseneeded and are a well-informed enthusiast. Specialized training and achievements in your field are needed. Be a passionate storyteller. 
  • Have engaging activities to be done, not just observed. Use projects guests can follow along and do at home, interactive performances and interesting conversation.
  • Be comfortable with Zoom and audio/video setup. Offer a great online experience. Good lighting, clear sound and strong internet are ideal so there are no glitches.
  • List your target language and audience.
  • Answer further questions about your skills and presentation then learn about settings, pricing and bookings.
  • The last step is to submit this application to Airbnb.

Recommended Equipment

If you want to create an Airbnb experience, then you not only have to have the right skills but the right equipment too. The minimum recommended equipment for a good online experience is having two 1080p webcams (such as the reliable Logitech 920s), simple light panels, a lavalier microphone with a long cable that goes directly into your computer for better audio, and Zoom software installed. While this seems like an expensive list, you should be able to acquire all of these for about $250-$300.

If you are going to do an online experience full-time, then getting better equipment will be worth your investment. You should have two DSRL cameras going into live capture cards that turn your cameras into extra sharp webcams, elevated dome lighting options, shotgun mics that go into the audio interfaces, Zoom software, and possibly additional live streaming hardware like a Streamdeck along with Open Broadcast Software and two external cameras. Going this route means the equipment budget increases to between $1200-$5000, depending on whether you get new or used, name brand or more generic.

Source: canva.com

For outdoor online experiences, you may need a newer smartphone with HD front and back cameras. You’ll also need a high speed 4G or 5G unlimited data plan, a Gymbal/phone rig, external mic, small LED lights and Zoom installed on your phone. You can also add in optional lens attachments and a camera operator if you want to go all out. If you exclude the phone and data plan, you’ll be looking at $150-$500 for your outdoor online experience gear.

Best Practices

When you have applied, are equipped andready to go, then it is time to begin preparing yourexperience. Here are some of the best practices to follow:

1. Look in on other Airbnb online experiences to see how it is done. Picking up tips and tricks from others is a great way to learn what might work for you. Watching others engage with their audience can help as you present your own first online experience.

2. Make sure to host a dry runwith friends and family. When you do this, take photos to see how things look, get HD video andlots of feedback from those who joined in. This will fix potential problems, show where there is dead air and help you refine the process you are going to use when presenting and interacting.

3. Ensure your computer is fast and equipped to run what is needed. Turn off all background programs and use an ethernet cable rather than Wi-Fi to be sure there are no issues with a dropped signal.

4. Be well prepared. Make sure to have statistics, facts, personal stories, tales and things of interest to share while the experience is going on. These things will help fill quiet moments as needed.

5. Be engaging. Involve your guests in the process and experience. Listen to them. Ask questions and interact. Make sure that everyone gets to take part and talk with each other as well.

6. Start low. Low pricing at the beginning will get you some quick reviews and then you can increase it. A best practice is to keep it under $20 per person.

7. Finally, repeat your material and above all, keep it friendly. Keep the routine similar but make subtle changes so it is fresh and interesting. You want repeat visitors so entice them with new content while repeating the mainstream thought.

Getting Ideas for Your Experience

  • How to’s/follow along – Do cooking classes, yoga, dance, exercise etc.
  • Take guests somewhere – Virtual tours of cities and points of interest, do an art tour or journey a historical area.
  • Perform – Do magic, singing, music, comedy, etc.
  • Do a topic on a person – yourself or another that has a great personal story such as an Olympian or National Geographic photographer
  • Look at what’s popular right now.
  • Assess your specialized skills or knowledge.
  • Think about things you are passionate about and if you can teach them to others.
  • Capitalize on growing trends like wellness, meditation or accessibility….

Final Thoughts

Presenting Airbnb experiences is one of the most accessible paths to creating a side hustle income with very little initial investment and time and (still) with relatively light competition. Enjoy sharing yourself and your skills with others while creating an income stream. Follow this guide to apply, get set up, choose your topic and start producing great experiences that can be enjoyed by people around the world!

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