I Took 5 Airbnb Online Experiences While Living In Airbnbs During COVID

Since 2016 when Airbnb first launched the Experiences platform, I’ve taken over a dozen both online and offline in different parts of the world including sailing in Lisbon, street magic in Ukraine, salsa in Miami, and improv in San Francisco. For this Airbnb Online Experiences review, I chose five Experiences. You can find the details of each Experience with individual reviews and what I skills I learned towards the bottom.

What are Airbnb Online Experiences?

Airbnb Online Experiences are educational- or entertainment-based classes that are meant to be hands-on and interactional. They’re born from the in-person Airbnb Experiences started in 2016 which was born from the Magical Trips program from 2014.

Online Airbnb Experiences are educational- or entertainment-based classes that are meant to be hands-on and interactional. They are born from Magical Trips at Airbnb. Click To Tweet

They are typically an hour-long, though most of the time they go over by up to 30 minutes. You will be joined by usually 2-5 other participants. And, oftentimes you are given individual attention whether that’s through individual analysis of your handwriting, specific interior design recommendations for a room in your home, or a Q & A session at the end.

As with everything on Airbnb, the ratings are inflated. Please use the following scale based on my experience:

  • A rating between 4.98 – 5.0 is excellent
  • A rating between 4.95- 4.97 is good
  • A rating between 4.90 – 4.94 is just ok
  • A rating below 4.90 is bad. I estimate only 2% with this rating.

According to the Airbnb quality standards for Experiences, “an average rating at or below 4.7 may be removed from Airbnb.” In the real world a 4.7 out of 5.0 is excellent. Not true on Airbnb.

History Of Airbnb Experiences

Airbnb has always been fascinated with the idea of contributing to the experience of the guest while they’re on the trip, physically at the destination. Airbnb always thought this was an important part of the trip where they were totally absent. It represented an opportunity in terms of revenue and branding.

In 2014, Airbnb launched my most favorite feature they have ever tried: Local Companion. It was an early version of the Experiences you see today.

Local Companion was the shit. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. It was hands down the single best and most awesome thing they’ve ever done and I’ll probably attempt doing this idea as a business in the future. If you’re interested, hit me up in the comments. Let me explain.

The idea was that the guest would have a “Local Companion” – a local person who would help them with their stay in any way you could think of.

You could ask your local companion about the confusing street parking rules if you were in San Francisco, about the best wine bar in a particular neighborhood if you’re in Paris, or where to find a common grocery item like sliced bread in Saigon (true story, very hard to find bread in Vietnam).

Do you remember Local Companion? This was the Airbnb program before Experiences, and even before Magical Trips. Click To Tweet

To take it a step further, this Local Companion would surprise you. Maybe they’d send you a special treat while you were enjoying your day at the park or maybe they’d send you a gift card to a local, unique coffee shop or a bonus recommendation like if there was a great comedy show on tonight and you were interested in comedy.

THE IDEA WAS FUCKING BRILLIANT. They killed it after a few months. Then they started up Magical Trips which was the earlier version of what is today named Airbnb Experiences.

In 2014, I actually was a very early employee tester. I took a group of three Airbnb guests by bike across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito to enjoy the day and we came back via the ferry.

I also took a girl on a motorcycle tour of San Francisco where I nearly got in an accident.

In November 2015 at the Airbnb Open in Los Angeles, the company announced the new program as Trips.

airbnb announces trips at airbnb open in 2015 in los angeles
This image is from the keynote speech at the 2015 Airbnb Open in Los Angeles when Brian Chesky introduced “Trips”.

Overall Thoughts: Airbnb Online Experiences

Airbnb Experiences in real life…just ok. Because it’s in real life, who you are experiencing the Experience with matters, a lot. Airbnb never figured this out. They need to do a better job pairing you with the right people. In my opinion, the connections you make during the Experience is much more important than the activity.

But online Experiences remove this variable. You’re no longer interacting with the other participants. Even though they’re in the class, the structure makes the communication strictly a two-way street from you to the Airbnb Experience host.

I view the online Airbnb Experiences as a great way to pass some time. I don’t mean that in a negative way. These aren’t meant to be mind-boggling, Earth-shattering experiences. They’re meant to give you something to do for a short and manageable amount of time.

Can’t go on your usual date night? Why not book a 2-person digital handwriting analysis class with your lover?

Of the five online Airbnb Experiences I participates in, two were excellent, two were good, and one way just bad.

Can’t go on your usual date night? Enter online Airbnb Experiences. Why not book a 2-person digital handwriting analysis class with your lover? Click To Tweet

Tips For Online Airbnb Experience Hosts

If you’re an online Airbnb Experience host then you need to think of your Experience in three parts: before, during, and after.

The before part is your marketing. The title and cover photo are of extreme importance. You have to make yourself stand out not only from your direct competition but everyone because Airbnb tends to mashup all the experiences via recommendations. This part will get the user to click on your Experience.

Once there, you need to both attract the right guest and repel the wrong guests. How to do this? Be honest. Be specific. Set expectations. Mismanaged expectations are the only thing that results in bad reviews.

There's only one thing that results in a negative review: mismanaged expectations. Click To Tweet

Eliminate all the fluff from the ‘What you’ll do’ section. First, all your competitors have overused the fluff text. Second, our attention spans are minimal.

Use bullet points. This makes the information easily digestible.

Give an outline. These Experiences are quite predictable. Tell me exactly what I can expect to learn or experience.

I suggest sending a message to the guest 24-hours in advance reminding them what to bring, if anything, and subtly hint that you will be delivering a 5-star experience. This is a persuasion technique to help your review.

This article talks about how Airbnb hosts can optimize their online Airbnb Experience: Click To Tweet

The during part is the actual live experience. No one is taking these hour-long online Experiences to become an expert. Cover the basics, cover the ‘hacks’, and make it fun. It must be fun. If it feels like a lecture, your viewer will tune out.

Think to yourself if your viewer was going to a dinner party, did you equip them with some interesting things related to the subject which they can talk about?

Last night I watched a documentary about how we are living in a simulation. It was tremendously interesting. The documentary was the same length as an online Airbnb Experience, but I learned enough to be able to have a rather detailed conversation with someone at this hypothetical dinner party.

If your online Airbnb Experience gives the viewer something to talk about at the dinner party, you can expect a 5-star review. Click To Tweet

Finally, provide notes. In the Explore Card Magic Experience, I wish I recorded the screen as I forgot many of the tricks I learned. I was taking notes during the Handwriting Analysis Experience, but I still could have benefited from a summary sheet. Same with the Personalized Interior Design Workshop Experience and Trigger Point Therapy with an Olympian online Airbnb Experiences.

Two more tips during the Experience:

  • ask all participants to mute themselves unless they have something to say
  • If you’re giving a presentation increase the size of your mouse or add a circle around it to make it easier to find

The after part is the part immediately when you turn off the camera and exit the Zoom. Airbnb is going to request a review from the guest immediately via a notification on both desktop and mobile. If there was anything you promised the guest, delivery it in real-time.

Additionally, after 24-hours, send a nice message to the guest requesting a review. You can say this:

“Hi, Danny. I hope you’re well and I’d like to ask a quite favor. As a host, reviews are extremely important for my future reservations and online reputation. I hope you can make time to leave me a review and share your experience with my future guests :D”

Tips For Airbnb

First and most importantly, make it easier to filter for negative reviews. Your platform encourages 5-star or no reviews. So the few brave souls who’ve given a negative review, I want to know why. That information will help me judge their criticism if it would also be true for me. Your goal is to match the right guest with the right Experience. Help us do that.

Airbnb, if you are reading this, I think you should consider adding some educational classes. I had this idea a few years ago. Think re-education for adults. Everything you “learned” in school, have forgotten, but is of interest to you as an adult. Geography, world history, politics, language, sciences, etc. Actually, I tweeted you this suggestion which leads me to another piece of advice. Whether a user is submitting a recommendation, a product issue, etc. don’t ask them to jump through another hoop and fill out something that likely will be ignored. Take it from go.

tweeting recommendation to airbnb about experiences

I’m sure your hosts don’t love going over 30 minutes every class, but it also would be awkward to cut off the session early if a viewer has a question. To combat this, I suggest adding a 5-minute countdown timer when the Experience is over which automatically ends the Experience.

It would be cool to see what country all the participants are from. This would be something Zoom would have to implement, I think.

Individual Airbnb Online Experience Reviews + Notes


Explore Card Magic

online airbnb experiences review magic show

Direct Link: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/1678504

Cost: $16

Dannybooboo Rating: 5.0

Airbnb Rating: 4.99

Number of Reviews: 100

Host Name: Evgeny

Host Location: Ukraine

Believe it or not, I actually took this class as a live Airbnb Experience while I was in Ukraine. It was one-on-one and incredible. I asked him to teach me how to make a straw jump out of a cup, something on my bucket list, and he did!

As for the online Experience, this was my favorite Airbnb Experience, by far. I actually learned magic in 60 minutes!

So, for $16 and one hour of my life, I just learned a lifelong skill as long as I don’t get arthritis (Dad, if you’re reading this, does it run in the family?).

My only regret is not recording the session. We learned so much that I only really remember two or three things. I know I forgot a few tricks and messaged Evgeny on Instagram. He offered private additional classes for $25. I am most definitely going to do it.

Trigger Point Therapy with an Olympian

Direct Link: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/1683212

Cost: $25

Dannybooboo Rating: 4.50

Airbnb Rating: 4.98

Number of Reviews: 63

Host Name: Pauls

Host Location: USA

Pauls was the most passionate Airbnb Experience host. There was only one other participant, but we stayed talking 30 minutes after the ending time because he had a lot to say and answered our questions thoroughly.

I felt he truly wanted to help me with my groin and lower back issues.

My only suggestion is to rotate the camera horizontal or vertical depending on if he was on the ground or using the wall.

Also, he’s a current pole-vault Olympian which is pretty cool.

Skincare and Natural Cosmetics Workshop

Direct Link: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/1660526

Cost: $12

Dannybooboo Rating: 4.50

Airbnb Rating: 4.97

Number of Reviews: 168

Host Name: Beatrice

Host Location: Italy

This host was really engaged. The point of the class was to make your own natural skincare products. While we did that, the bulk was lecture style. The only downside was the plethora of information without a good outline of the discussion. Bring your pen and paper for notes!

I learned a bunch of neat tidbits:

  • Buying baby soap for facial care is always a good bet
  • Your face has a hydrolipidic film
  • Polyethylene means made with plastic and you want to avoid this as an ingredient
  • Don’t use peeling masks if you have sensitive skin
  • To make a mechanic facial scrub mix 2 teaspoon honey with 1tsp coconut/muscovado or sugar/coffee (never use salt for facial scrub)
  • Snail slime serum prevents skin aging and promotes collagen growth
  • In this order, cleanser then serum then face cream. Cleanser and face cream most important, but must use face cream if you use serum
  • To make body scrub mix 1 tablespoon salt and oil (but not olive oil) plus 2 drops essential oil (ensure usage is cosmetic)
  • After shower use coconut, almond, or grapeseed oil on skin

Handwriting Analysis

Direct Link: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/1734480

Cost: $20

Dannybooboo Rating: 4.0

Airbnb Rating: 5.0

Number of Reviews: 20

Host Name: Ghislaine

Host Location: London

I took this class because I have actually watched some YouTube videos on this and attempted to analyze some of my friends’ writing in the past. I was hoping to add to my knowledge with a professional.

While I did gain some knowledge, it ran 30 minutes over and was information overload. The presentation was rather bland being straight from a Word document. And, some examples were missing. This is visual so seeing examples is important.

I would have preferred to know the one or two big ideas for each point rather than getting into the finer details of what each feature could mean.

Here are some of the things I learned:

  • Margins
    • Wide left margin means their past was unpleasant
    • Wide right margin means their future focused
  • Line Spacing
    • Wide indicated an orderly and logical person
    • Narrow means cluttered or too much going on
  • Slant
    • Forward means friendly, emotional
    • Neutral means introverted
    • Backward means reserved or clinging to the past
  • Letter-size
    • Introverts and focused people write smaller
    • Big personalities write with big letters
    • Oversized letters mean the person wants to be noticed
  • Space between words
    • Wide signifies someone who puts a lot of space between themselves and others
    • Narrow is a touchy-feely person, space invader
  • Space between letters
    • Wide means outgoing
    • Average means warm, friendly, authentic
    • Narrow means anxiety or inner conflict
  • T-Bars represents goals
    • Heavy means emotional, likes intense experiences, holds grudges
    • Light means a sensitive personality
    • Higher means visionary and lower lacks self-confidence
  • Signature
    • Represents who they want you to think they are, not who they are
  • “a”
    • A closed “a” means they can keep a secret while open means they have a big mouth

Personalized Interior Design Workshop

Direct Link: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/1520427

Cost: $35

Dannybooboo Rating: 3.0

Airbnb Rating: 4.94

Number of Reviews: 115

Host Name: Julianna

Host Location: San Francisco

This was the most expensive Online Experience. Granted, the cost is heavily related to the cost of living in the hosts city and this was in San Francisco, but I would not take this one again.

The introductions of each person plus the host took 7 minutes, that’s 12% of an hour-long class. If the introduction is relevant to the class it’s great, but otherwise doesn’t really add value.

What hit me with this class is wondering if she gives the same presentation over and over and over. I think the answer is yes as the inflection in her voice was low, as if she’d done it a million times and lacked passion.

I thought she got too specific and that she was talking to an interior designer. During the presentation, she talked about architectural floor plans and building codes. We don’t need to know any of that.

She also recommended building a digital floor plan and using painters tape with measurements to see how it feels before you buy new furniture. I think no one will actually do this. I’d much prefer her to teach me the basics of interior design hacks to make actionable and immediate improvements points to my space.

She did request a photo from each participant where she would give recommendations at the end. I felt the recommendations were lackluster.

However, I did have some takeaways:

  • Scale is important – big with big
  • You can choose 3-5 colors, but focus on one
  • There should be only one focal point per room

My favorite part was when she described the different styles, something I never understood when someone said they liked Bohemian and Modern styles. The host separated the styles into six categories:

  • Traditional – neutral, elegant
  • Industrial – raw, unrefined, exposed element like sprinklers, unfinished flooring
  • Contemporary – Modern, clean, minimalistic
  • Mid-Century Modern – Vintage, old is new, Madmen style, maximize views to outdoors
  • Farmhouse Modern – bright, relaxed, simple, antique
  • Bohemian Eclectic – colorful, bold, global

At the end of this section, she asked for participation which was cool because I felt myself wanting to speak up here as this has been a confusing part she cleared up for me and I felt I connected to the contemporary style.

The brief Q + A at the end left me unsatisfied as the answers didn’t seem as though they were coming from a truly passionate expert.

Support Me ⇒

Danny Rusteen

In 2015, Danny got fired from Airbnb. Just two years later, he started two successful businesses and wrote a best-selling book. Since then, he's become a bodybuilding, location-independent, minimalist traveling the world while living in Airbnbs. He describes himself as a skeptic, contrarian, and expert cuddler. In his spare time he reads, cooks, and plays basketball. Follow his journey on Instagram or YouTube.

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