Most of us are desperately seeking new and interesting things to do while stuck at home. Though travel isn’t an option right now, museums, parks, and even whole countries are offering clever ways for us to feed our wanderlust virtually. This month, Airbnb announced it was moving some of its bespoke Airbnb Experiences online. The best part: Most are dirt cheap compared to their real-world counterparts.
Like most travel-related companies, Airbnb suspended its in-person Experiences through the end of April. Given the current situation, however, that postponement is likely to be extended. Last week, the company moved some of those experiences to a virtual, Zoom-based platform with more than 50 offerings in 30 countries. The catalog of Online Experiences includes traditional workshop-style classes for cooking, creative drawing, mixology, and meditation. But, the most interesting of these center around one-of-a-kind experiences like Olympian-led, high-intensity workouts, virtual meet-and-greets with South African penguins, and live tango lessons.
Most, like an introduction to cooking Mexican salsas, a group baking experience for families, and a meditation session with a Buddhist monk from Osaka — are easy to move online as they don’t necessarily require in-person participation. But, others — like visiting a rescue goat sanctuary in the Catskills Mountains, experiencing a day in the life of an Olympic Bobsledder, and touring Chernobyl with volunteers working to save the local dog population — have surprisingly gone virtual as well.
In an official announcement, Head of Airbnb Experiences, Catherine Powell said, “Human connection is at the core of what we do. With so many people needing to stay indoors to protect their health, we want to provide an opportunity for our hosts to connect with our global community of guests in the only way possible right now, online.”
Since launching in 2016, Airbnb Experiences has provided amateur tour guides worldwide with a unique platform to offer niche experiences in their own hometowns. In the wake of an unprecedented economic downturn, Online Experiences offers a glimmer of hope for these tour providers whose businesses are currently at a standstill. The platform allows hosts to earn at least a small income while the world is forced to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic.
Compared to Airbnb’s real-world Experiences, the Online Experiences are surprisingly affordable. Most range from just a few dollars up to around $65 per person. Either way, they’re guaranteed to be way more interesting than whatever’s in your Netflix queue (except for Tiger King, of course).