We’ve witnessed our most successful hosts’ experiences set their guests up for a transformative journey. If you’re new to hosting experiences, you may be looking for guidance on building an impactful experience that leaves your guests with a brand new perspective. The steps below have been used by successful hosts to create exceptional experiences. They can help you cultivate a sense of safety, belonging, and even transformation, often leading to glowing 5-star reviews and more bookings!
Step 1: A foundation of trust
Creating a world where everyone can genuinely belong requires a foundation of trust. Think back to the last time you took a class, attended an event, or traveled solo. Do you remember feeling a little nervous? It’s natural to feel out of place in a new setting, or when learning a new skill. Engaging wholeheartedly can be difficult when you feel vulnerable. The first step to leading a successful experience is ensuring your guests feel safe and trust you as a host, laying the foundation for a successful experience.
Amelia is the perfect companion for this experience. She is a skillful guide that explains and demonstrates everything to make sure you are comfortable and having fun. – John, on his experience with the host of Hollywood by Horseback
Feeling seen by your host can help you feel safe and builds trust. Memorize your guests’ names and speak to them often throughout the journey. When others know our names, we feel seen. Greet your guests by name and think of every guest as a potential friend.
Quick Tip: Before your guests arrive, use their profile to memorize their names. When you meet your guests in person, repeat their name back to them so you help seal it into your memory, such as, “Thanks so much for coming all the way from Detroit, Julie, nice to meet you.”
Another way to make your guest feel seen is to keep eye contact with your guests and evenly allocate your attention between them. Sometimes, quiet guests will require more attention to make them feel comfortable and to reinforce that that they belong.
Don’t forget to greet each guest warmly. Welcome your guests with a smile and the greeting customary for your culture, such as a handshake, hug, or kiss on the cheek. As you do so, be cognizant of cultural differences around comfort with physical contact and don’t force a greeting on someone if they seem uncomfortable. Most importantly, show your guests you are excited to see them and make them feel genuinely welcomed and special.
Introduce yourself and establish your credibility early on. A great introduction can build trust with your guests. It should answer the question, “why is this host equipped to lead me on this experience?” Explain your backstory, emphasize your passion and specialized skills related to the experience, and tell them why you decided to host this experience.
Step 2. Exploration and Connection
You’ve made your guests feel welcome, safe and now they are likely ready to engage in the activities you’ve planned fully. Try to build elements that allow guests to interact and learn together.
Foster connections between guests. The small group size is one thing that sets Airbnb experiences apart, so to create a sense of belonging and ensure that all guests feel welcomed and part of the group, encourage guests to talk with each other.
To lay the groundwork for flowing conversation and connections, consider facilitating an icebreaker at the beginning of the experience. For example, ask common non-intrusive questions that your guests will be excited to answer. Here are a few examples:
- Why did you choose this experience?
- If you could bring anyone on earth on this experience who would it be, and why?
- When is the last time you immersed yourself in learning something new?
- Where’s one place you want to go that you have not been yet?
An icebreaker like this helps your guests find common ground and identify topics for continued conversation.
Create a dialogue, not a monologue. To create an unforgettable, flowing experience for your guests, design your experience so that your guests actively participate and immerse themselves in your world. Treat your guests as friends and talk with them instead of at them.
Open-ended questions encourage discussion, as opposed to ones with a yes or no answer. Pair your guests and urge them to talk to each other about what they are experiencing.
Step 3. Feeling Transformed
A 5-star experience is one that supports transformation in your guests. This transformation can be a new feeling of comfort in your city, a connection made with another guest (or you!), or new skill they can take back home. This growth will make your experience memorable, and memorable experiences are the ones with the best reviews.
Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. Those two simple prepositions – for and to – express it all. -Danny Meyer
Instead of merely demonstrating an activity, invite your guests to engage in it. This kind of active learning will make them feel empowered and encourages a deeper connection with your experience. If you’re teaching a difficult skill, consider breaking down the task into small parts and allow your guest to get hands-on, even in a small way. If you’re giving a tour, try asking your guests for their feedback on stories told, or sights seen.
Your guests may be so immersed in their experience that they don’t realize how their own perspective has changed. Near the end of your experience, create a moment that allows your guest to reflect and then share how they feel. Here are some questions you can ask your guest:
- How do they feel now, versus just before the experience started?
- What learning would they share with a friend about this experience?
- Did they surprise themselves, or were they surprised by anything else?
Since Brian and Joe, two of Airbnb’s founders launched Airbnb and became the first hosts over ten years ago, thoughtful hosts have been the beating heart of Airbnb. We find inspiration in the ways hosts invite guests to share in their passion and communities. They create magical experiences that bring the Airbnb mission to life by helping anyone belong anywhere.
We can’t wait to see how hosts continue to respond to this challenge and create innovative ways to help guests feel safe, connected, and transformed. If you find success in these areas, we’d love to hear from you and share with the community. Submit your tips here!