5 Things Traditional Tour Operators Can Learn From Airbnb Experiences

17 Jul 2018     |   

A lot of tour operators have been concerned about Airbnb’s introduction into the tours and activity world with Airbnb Experiences. Let’s put aside for a moment the concerns that people have about Airbnb’s impact on communities and industries, and simply discuss the idea behind Airbnb Experiences.

Airbnb has a great idea that is consistent with current trends in the travel industry, and tour operators should at least take note of what is selling on Airbnb, especially tour operators who are trying to appeal to the Millennial market.

Just as the name demonstrates, the tours and activities on Airbnb Experience are about experiencing a place, not just seeing it from the outside like a regular tourist.

Nowadays, particularly Millennials, want to feel like they’ve gotten to know a place when they travel. They want to meet the locals and live like a local for the short amount of time they’ll be there. According to Airbnb’s research, 80% of Millennials “say that the best way to learn about a place is to live like the locals do.” Airbnb understands what millennials want in a trip, and they deliver it.

This doesn’t mean that Airbnb Experiences has to be a threat to established tour operators. Instead, if tour operators want to counter the rise of Airbnb, they can recognize that Airbnb Experiences is successful because it has built itself to cater to certain types of travelers, and this is something that we can learn from and apply.

As we at TourismTiger have already discussed in a previous blog post about Millennials, there are 83 million of them in the United States alone, and they love to travel, but traveling to Millennials is different then it was to other generations. Millennials’ travel habits are why Airbnb Experiences exists. We want the experiences, not the sightseeing.

Besides being able to market to millennials, tour operators need to offer a product that they want.

If you’re interested in broadening your market and offering tours that are popular with Millennials, here are 5 essential takeaways from Airbnb Experiences:

#1 Specificity and Uniqueness

Airbnb Experiences don’t just offer a general walking tour of San Francisco or another major city, they give people something specific to get excited about. A great example of this is “Shuck Oysters on the Harbour” in Boston and “Mushroom Foraging” in Seattle. These aren’t run of the mill tours and activities, they’re a specific activity that is relevant to the cities and cultures, and they will make people feel like they’re experiencing something interesting and unique on their trip.

airbnb experiences

#2 Photo Tours

Photo tours are a huge trend in the age of Instagram. People want to post photos of their travels on instagram. If you read our blog post about marketing to Millennials, you know that Instagrammability is a big aspect of how many Millennials plan trips, so photo tours of a city is a great way to hook them. A lot of Millennials would love to have a great photographer showing them around a city to see the most photogenic spots, and get some great photos of themselves in the city along the way.

airbnb experiences

#3 Authenticity

People want to take trips that let them live like a local. Check out this tour called “Embrace Parisian Life.” Isn’t that exactly what most travelers to Paris want to do?

airbnb experiences

A big hit on Airbnb Experiences are experiences that allow you to cook dinner with a local. Elodie’s Embrace Parisian Life offers this among other activities over the eight hour experience.

#4 Off-beaten Paths

Tours with names like “Secret Spots of New York” or “Experience Buenos Aires like a Local” will be more appealing to a lot of young people, who want to be taken to places other than the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triomphe. Instead, have a tour that shows them some beautiful historic buildings on Paris’s side streets. Share your native expertise by showing them the places that their Lonely Planet book can’t.

Here’s a great example of an off the beaten path Airbnb Experience called “Local Food and Hidden Places.” Selene comes from a long line of Romans. Her tour offers local knowledge of Rome, hidden gems of the city, and food.

airbnb experiences

#5 Therapeutic Experiences

Another trend that is seen on Airbnb Experience is the rise of mindfulness tours. For example, one host runs a “Forest Therapy” experience outside Los Angeles. This experience aims to help guests connect with the forest, not just see it.

airbnb experiences

If you’re trying to rebrand or offer new tours through your company in hopes of reaching the Millennial market, keep an eye on Airbnb. 60% of all guests who have booked on Airbnb are Millennial travelers.

Airbnb Experiences does a great job of offering tours that interest the new generation of travelers, but that doesn’t mean Airbnb Experiences is the only place Millennials interested in a unique and local experience will book. If you’re on the internet, and have a great website (TourismTiger can help you with that!), Millennials will find you if you offer a product they’re interested in.