Now that Airbnb Experiences has been on the scene for some time and arguably proven its place as a viable OTA for tour operators, let’s look at some of the details and see if it is a good fit for your organisation. There are various factors here that might urge or deter you from joining the platform… Let's discuss.
Requirements to join Airbnb Experiences
There are a few things that Airbnb Experiences require for their experiences. Some of them are pretty standard; guests must know who is hosting them, guests cannot be handed off to third-party hosts, and you must adhere to Airbnb guidelines. While others might be a bit more challenging to the average tour operator… for starters, Airbnb requires that only guests who book through Airbnb are allowed on a particular experience. This means no mixing and matching with guests from direct booking or other OTAs. How much you follow this rule is up to you.
Another requirement is that hosts cannot set minimum group sizes, so you must run the tour even if you only have one person booked on your experience. This might be a deal-breaker for some, as the cost to run a tour might be more than the profit from a single attendee.
Good quality pictures
Airbnb has fairly strict photo requirements for its platform. For example, photos must be high resolution, 480 x 720px or bigger at 72dpi, they must be well-lit, they cannot be stretched or distorted, and they cannot prominently show alcohol unless in a licensed location. While these are likely not a challenge for most operators, it’s good to know this information upfront before you attempt to build your listing on the site!
Airbnb takes a 20% commission from all bookings. An average amount when looking at a variety of OTAs, but again, something to take into consideration as you consider the platform.
Booking Software Integration
This might be the biggest factor for tour operators. Airbnb does not currently offer the ability to integrate its booking system with outside booking platforms. As a result, you will have to manually manage any booking that comes through Airbnb and input it into your internal booking system. This also enforces one of the earlier requirements: tours are only allowed to include other Airbnb Experiences guests.
Perhaps the primary benefit of Airbnb Experiences is that operators can reach a new demographic that other OTAs would otherwise miss. We know that younger audiences and more intrepid travellers are attracted to booking accommodation through Airbnb. These travellers might not be looking at the traditional OTAs that operators usually list, making Airbnb a perfect place to capture a new audience. Additionally, booking accommodation and experiences in the same place has a large draw. The one-stop-shop for adventures and vacations makes travelling simpler in an ever-changing tourism landscape.
As always, each OTA presents its own pros and cons. However, Airbnb brings some new variables that we might not be used to as tour operators. Considering each of these before creating your profile is essential. But joining the platform might be a great option depending on your target demographic and product!