On July 7, 2020, Head of Experiences Catherine Powell held a livestream to share updates and address top questions from the experience host community. She was joined by two successful experience hosts, Rosa in Norway and Raffaele in Italy, who contributed their own learnings and tips to the conversation. They discussed recent product feature updates, Online Experiences, and the reopening of in-person experiences. Play the video above for the full remarks, or read on for an overview of what was discussed.
Please keep in mind that although the information shared was up to date on the day of the livestream, there are some details that may change over time due to evolving circumstances.
You may have already noticed some new features recently launched in the Airbnb product. These were built based on host feedback and we hope will make hosting easier for you. All of these new features can be found either in your calendar or in your experience settings.
These new features include:
- Private instances
- You can choose whether the instance you schedule in your calendar is publicly visible or private (“hidden”), meaning only people who you share the link with will be able to view and book it.
- This can be helpful if you want to make an instance available for a private group or to offer a special instance to friends, family, or fellow hosts.
- Calendar export
- You can now export your experience hosting calendar so that it can be added to your personal calendar, such as Google Calendar. This way, your scheduled instances will automatically appear in your personal calendar too.
- Automated messages
- Now in addition to the automated welcome message, you can set a reminder message to be sent to guests ahead of the experience start and a follow-up message to be sent after the experience is over. You can even choose to have the guest’s name be automatically inserted so it feels personalized.
- Group rates
- You can now offer pricing discounts based on how many spots are being bought at once in order to encourage your guests to book for more people. You are in complete control of how you would like to structure the discounts. Explore your options under Pricing Settings.
Airbnb acknowledges that the process for launching an online experience has been difficult and confusing for many hosts. There have been updates and changes to the process recently based on feedback we’ve heard from you, so hopefully the process is becoming smoother. These changes include: providing more detailed feedback for declines after the “live review” stage, and testing different approaches to the “live review” stage, including trialing video submission.
Catherine reviewed the core components of what makes for a successful online experience, which was also shared in the last Experiences Q&A:
- Differentiation: offering an online experience unlike anything else on Airbnb or other platforms.
- Participatory: these are live, interactive events meant to truly engage the guests and are NOT meant to be like video content you can just passively watch.
- Technical quality: the video and audio being of high quality and the host having a degree of familiarity and comfort with using Zoom as the broadcasting platform.
- Value: keeping the sense of value high where guests feel satisfied with what they are getting.
Catherine also reiterated that Airbnb is investing in Online Experiences for the long-term, there is tremendous potential for them and they are not simply a short-term solution during the COVID lockdown.
Rosa and Raffaele also shared insights about how they made the pivot from in-person hosting to online hosting, and offered tips for other hosts to consider. They both made big pivots in the activities offered online from what they had been doing in-person. Rosa had been offering a walking tour of Bergen for her in-person experience and now hosts an online experience about astronomy. Raffaele offered in-person historical walking tours of Naples and now hosts an online experience about making spiced wine based on an Ancient Roman recipe. They both found online experiences as an opportunity to explore and to highlight other passions of theirs, and they encouraged other hosts to consider thinking beyond their in-person activity when deciding what to offer online.
Reopening in-person experiences
Catherine shared an update on which countries have been reopened for in-person experiences. She reiterated that Airbnb wants to reopen countries as quickly as possible, as long as it is safe and permissible to do so. Airbnb will continue to evaluate evolving information on government restrictions, and health data and guidance from relevant sources. For the latest list of reopened countries and more details on this topic, check out this article.
She also reviewed the safety guidelines that Airbnb is asking all hosts to comply with. These safety and cleaning guidelines for experiences are informed by guidance issued by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and developed with guidance from leading hospitality and medical hygiene experts, including former Surgeon General of the United States, Vivek Murthy. You can read more about Airbnb’s health and safety guidelines in this article, cleaning guidelines for indoor experiences in this article, and find safety guidelines specific to Food & Drink experiences here.
Some important guidelines worth noting:
- Face coverings (a.k.a. masks) are required for all hosts and guests
- To clarify a conversation had during the Q&A: wearing masks is a requirement for Airbnb Experiences even if you are doing an activity that local regulations do not require masks for.
- Social distancing must be maintained by hosts and guests
- Hosts and guests may cancel penalty-free if they feel sick or have recently been in contact with an infected person
- Group sizes are limited to 10 and should not exceed local regulations on group gatherings
Experience hosts are being asked to complete a safety quiz and attest to remain committed to safety. After completing the quiz and attestation, a message describing your commitment to safety will appear on your experience page for guests to see. This quiz and attestation is mandatory for U.S. hosts to complete by July 31st and for hosts everywhere else by September 1st. You can find this quiz either in the task list in your host dashboard or via an email sent by Airbnb to hosts worldwide.
We hope that you found the update provided in this Experiences Q&A to be helpful and we look forward to having another one soon where we will continue to address your questions and concerns.