The Airbnb Experience
By Laura Danaraj, Marketing & Content Specialist, WBR
It’s no secret that Airbnb has become the talk of the town. Its distinct appeal to the millennial crowd has gone viral and every conversation that I’ve had in the past three years revolved around options on Airbnb and the uniqueness of every travel experience.
Airbnb is a people-driven travel platform that helps travellers look for places to stay and things to do. Breaking free from the conventional way of travel, Airbnb’s approach centers around authentic local recommendations, uniquely designed homes, and its potential to immerse travellers in local communities with Airbnb Experiences.
Airbnb Experiences is increasingly popular, and it stems from the rise in passion travel as an antidote to mass tourism. For instance, I’d personally choose neighbourhoods that are away from the tourist hotspots or one which best suits my travel needs. There is always a hidden gem to be found in the city or the heartlands, or everywhere in between.
I had the chance to talk with Parin Mehta, Director of Experiences, APAC, Airbnb to find out more about Airbnb’s vision and the ability to inspire people to have a one of a kind experience.
So what sets the Airbnb experience apart?
“Airbnb Experiences are unique, handcrafted activities that are led by local experts in more than 1,000 cities around the world. Whether you are an 85-year-old or a 5-year-old, you can find activities ranging from learning to make homemade noodles in Shanghai to swimming with sea lions in Palomino Islands.
Guests are also becoming increasingly interested in immersive travel experiences, and Airbnb Experience hosts are finding bizarre ways to meet consumers’ insatiable thirst for the weird and unusual. From carving with chainsaws to wearing your DNA as jewelry, some of the kookiest experiences around can be found on the Airbnb platform.”
There is a significant difference with experiencing life abroad as a tourist and as a local. I always ask my local Airbnb hosts for insider tips; whether it’s about the history and culture of a country, or simply the best local dining spots, as it allows me to immerse myself in the culture and community. These experiences also tell the story of the host’s unique perspective and passion- offering a personal touch.
According to Parin, travel is more than just seeing and doing; it’s the feeling of truly living somewhere, where our community of hosts who are passionate hospitality entrepreneurs, uses Airbnb to share their homes, neighbourhoods and passions to give travellers a true and authentic sense of living in a destination. Each experience is vetted for quality by a team of editors before it makes its way onto the platform.
To me there’s no better way to truly get to know a new culture than from staying with those who live there!
How do you deliver a seamless, intuitive experience that’s aligned with the expectations of today’s traveller?
“We are committed in wanting our community to have a magical offline experience by starting with a seamless online experience. We want to be able to help hosts and guests connect at scale online so they can have a meaningful experience offline. We have more than 400 million global guest arrivals, and our platform has personalisation at its heart. As the number of Experiences grew, Search & Discoverability as well as Personalisation have become very important factors for the growth and success of the marketplace. Airbnb uses Machine Learning, an innovative matching system designed to understand travelers’ preferences. Airbnb's search functionality aims to be more personalised, just like how each and every travel experience should be.”
Tell me more about the growth of Airbnb?
“We launched Airbnb Experiences in November 2016 with 500 Experiences in 12 cities worldwide. During 2017, we grew the business to 5,000 Experiences in 60 cities. In 2018, the rapid growth continued, and we managed to bring Experiences to more than 1,000 destinations, including unique places like Easter Island, Tasmania, and Iceland. We finished 2018 with more than 20,000 active Experiences.
As we grow, we want to be a force for good for local communities and help diversify tourism in cities, while we placing a premium on the quality of Airbnb Experiences to help travellers experience a healthy, sustainable and magical end-to-end trip experience.”
Growing at an unprecedented rate, the quality and uniqueness of these experiences encourages travellers to get involved in activities during their trips. Being able to book an Experience while on the road is a natural extension to a travel plan based on pockets of spare time one has during their travel. With travellers seeking off-the-beaten-path destinations, I’m sure these Experiences will ensure there are endless possibilities to keep them on their toes.
Any expectations for Digital Travel APAC 2019?
“Catching up with some old friends and contributing to the industry discussion about how to build a thriving travel industry in APAC and beyond.”
With over 450 Heads of eCommerce, Digital Marketing and Customer Experience in travel, hospitality and leisure heading to Digital Travel APAC 2019, there will definitely be many familiar faces in the crowd. And the learning opportunities- ENDLESS!
What would your dream holiday be like?
“A good balance between total relaxation and some action learning/observing about a new culture or a new skill”
Which is your favourite Airbnb experience?
“We just launched Cooking Classes and I have been enjoying trying some of those ”
A quote which you live by/motivates you?
“读万卷书不如行万里路” (Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles)
Come join Parin Mehta, Director of Experiences, APAC, Airbnb in a Power Panel on Day 1 of Digital Travel APAC, April 2nd at 2.30pm.
For more information and insights, download the agenda.