On April 20, 2020, Head of Experiences Catherine Powell responded to common host questions about the reopening strategy for Experiences, the Superhost Relief Fund, and the launch of Online Experiences.

Play the video for the full remarks, or read on for an overview of what was discussed.

Strategy for reopening Experiences

We’re making the decision on a country-by-country basis, and will consider reopening when there are enough positive signals to assure it’s safe. We’re not currently considering reopening by category, and the pause will likely be extended—look for more information this week.

This is the big question that everyone’s wondering about. Our priority continues to be the safety of guests, hosts, and the communities in which we operate, but we’re also considering each country individually.

We’re consulting the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center and monitoring national and local governmental restrictions. We’ll make our decision through the lens of these stages of recovery: The stages of recovery (though the situation is fluid and may change):

Phase 0: Emergency: This means COVID-19 cases are growing, and local and national governments have mandated restrictions

Phase 1: Stabilization: The spread of disease is slowing and recovery looks imminent

Phase 2: Early-stage recovery: COVID cases are diminishing, people are recovering, and restrictions on travel and mobility are being removed.

Phase 3: Late-stage recovery: Stabilization remains steady and travel and mobility are further increased

Phase 4: Fully recovered: Marketplace is recovered and guests are permitted to safely travel internationally.

We’re seeing countries like South Korea and China move into the recovery stage. As countries progress through these categories, that’s when we’ll be able to consider reopening.

We aren’t considering reopening by category right now. Your market has to be recovered. We have to be absolutely certain that it is fully recovered. After that, we will work with all of you to ensure that your experiences are suitable for a post-COVID world.  Equally important is hygiene. We are working on hygiene standards to work with you to apply so you can stay that your experience meets safety standards, which will help guests feel more comfortable booking. 

It’s likely that we’ll be extending the pause. We aren’t able to announce the specifics right now, but we will share that update in an email in the next week. When we’re ready to reopen your market, you’ll receive advanced notice and we’ll help you adjust your experience to meet safety and hygiene guidelines. We’ll also work to promote your experience to local travelers.

Superhost relief fund update

Summary: Despite it being called the “Superhost relief fund” it’s also for Experience hosts, and eligible hosts will be invited to apply over the next 4-6 weeks.

The name Superhost relief fund is confusing since Experiences does not currently have an equivalent “Superhost.” But Experience hosts are still eligible. 

It’s named after Superhosts since they’re among the longest-tenured hosts, and there are millions of homes hosts. We’re a younger business and we’re defining long tenure for us as hosting for at least 1 year.

Qualifying criteria for experience hosts to receive the Superhost relief fund:

  • Experience host for at least 1 year
  • Verified identity
  • Reliance on Airbnb as a vital source of income

We’re also taking into consideration frequency of hosting, and a gap in earnings (Feb-April)—we updated this from Q1 based on your feedback. Eligible hosts will be invited to apply via email over next 4-6 weeks. There will be another round of invitations based on income gaps over the period of May-July as well.

Online Experiences

The launch of Online Experiences was strong and we’ve learned a lot from the small group we launched with. We’re observing that top Online Experiences are: 

1) Unique and differentiated  

2) Participatory and foster connection  

3) Quarantine-friendly, meaning guests can easily access all needed supplies

4) High technical quality – audio and video, plus effective use of Zoom

5) Have compelling photos, title, and experience pages.

We so wanted to tell you the last time we spoke but we had to keep it secret for a few more days. It’s an idea that came from hosts like you in the listening sessions, and based on that feedback the team here at Airbnb built and launched it in 14 days. 

We took a measured approach to start, beginning with a small group of hosts because we knew that with such a quick turnaround there was a lot to learn. And we’re learning a lot–how to navigate technical difficulties, to what makes an exceptional online experience that stands out among all the other online offerings.

Since launch we’ve seen amazing coverage in over 600 media outlets over the past week, such as People, CNN, and soon, the New York Times. We’re posting lots of content on our social media and have loved seeing your experiences there, and many Experiences have completely sold out like Dogs of Chernobyl and Little Tail Farms. 

We’ve been hearing from a lot of hosts who are excited to get started offering an online experience. But some are confused, and even frustrated, by the process. I’ll share a little more about the process and the 2-4 week timeline:

First, you must go through the process of creating a new experience, not just editing your existing one. This means submitting a new experience to our review process just like you did when you started hosting. If you’ve got a real life experience you want to convert, that’s fine but you have to adapt it and think of it as a new idea. Also please think about the images and copy that would make it compelling. It has to demonstrate that it is different and that it will work online. 

Once you’ve submitted your experience, it’s reviewed by members of our team. We are manually reviewing and checking every single experience. It is so important to get this first wave right. This is what takes the time.  If the application looks good, we’ll schedule a live rehearsal experience with you and activate your Zoom account. Please, please learn how to use Zoom. We’ve had some early challenges with Zoom, so it’s important you practice and really get familiar with it.  If the rehearsal goes well, you’ll be approved to host.

The fact that we’re more selective is what explains the longer approval time, but we believe it’s what’s best for Experiences, and for hosts. If we don’t believe the experience will cut through and offer something distinct, it won’t be approved.

So far the more successful online experiences have a few things in common, so consider the following: 

  • Is it unique and differentiated?
    • There are a lot of classes and workouts available online; think of more ways to make your experience unique from other content that’s out there. 
    • For example, there’s Pedro in Lisbon who hosts a sangria making class… with drag queens!
    • And there’s The Wong Janice, as she is known, in Amsterdam hosting a meditation experience that includes a live cello concert.
  • Is it participatory? Do you foster connection with and between the guests?
    • Make sure your experience is not just a show but a real interactive experience where you can find ways to connect with your guests and have them connect with each other too.
    • For example, C-young in Seoul hosts a beauty experience where she gives personal attention to each guest and also facilitates conversations as a group.
    • And Natalie in San Francisco hosts a baking experience geared toward families to do together.
  • Is it “quarantine friendly” with accessible supplies?
    • Guests aren’t easily able to go out and buy materials right now, so make it easy for them to participate and have substitution ideas ready. 
    • For example, Ricardo in Mexico City turned his in-person coffee-tasting experience into an online workshop that teaches guests how to appreciate the coffee they have in their own homes.
    • And Arnau in Barcelona has adapted his nature-walk into an engaging storytelling experience where you are creating things based on what you have in your house, like toilet paper rolls! 
  • Are you prepared to deliver technical quality?
    • Please learn Zoom! You want to ensure your audio and video presentation are at a level that provides a good experience for your guests. This also includes lighting and your internet connection speed. 
    • For example, Jerry in Dallas has a simple yet effective audio set-up for his podcast-making experience.
    • And Kevin in Buenos Aires has both lighting and sound equipment as a part of his tango concert set-up. 

In addition, think about your merchandising—how guests find them and how they will be attracted through your experience page. You want to make sure you have a really compelling title and photos that capture what the online experience will be like.

Remember: unique, participatory, low barrier to entry, and technical quality. We are here to help you and will work with you on finding the right idea, the right price, and the availability to reach the most people. We also have a ton of information to help you get started, including technical help with audio and video and getting set up on Zoom. 

If it still feels unclear what we’re looking for, there are many new articles in the Resource Center for you to reference, and weekly webinars about online experiences. You can see a full list of those and other online events in the resource center.

While this opportunity is born out of this crisis, I absolutely think it has a future beyond this. How we’ve seen you respond and guests respond has helped us really see there is a future here. Online Experiences really help people connect globally—right now in a time where we’re meant to be apart but also to help people feel connected even while they’re not traveling. When people are not traveling, if you still give them a chance to take an experience, it can help smooth out demand.

Of course, we remain 100% committed to our offline experiences – that’s the heart of what we do. They are the magic you bring to life. We are fully focused on making sure they come back in the most successful way possible.  

Be assured we’re still in this together. We wish you and your family the very best right now, and we’ll see you at the next Q&A.