Since its launch in 2016, Airbnb Experiences have become a beloved part of our travel journeys. It’s taken us all to new places to try new foods, learn new skills, make new friends, and see the world in a whole new way. Though the spread of the Coronavirus has brought our in-person adventures to a halt, Airbnb is still committed to helping everyone explore the world. That’s why it’s now offering many of those same — and brand new — experiences online.
On Thursday, Airbnb launched Online Experiences, a “new way for people to connect, travel virtually, and earn income during the COVID-19 crisis,” the company explained. “With communities around the world staying home to protect their own health and the health of others, people can’t pursue routine activities like going to work, exercising or pursuing a passion.”
So Airbnb worked with hosts around the world to find a solution. “One of the most consistent requests [from hosts] was to be able to continue hosting online,” Catherine Powell, Head of Airbnb experiences told Travel + Leisure. “So we dedicated a team to work around the clock to help ensure that they could transfer the magic of their real world Experience to the digital world.”
That magic includes online experiences like meditation with Buddhist monks, virtual visits with the dogs of Chernobyl, cooking with a Moroccan family, and even spending time with a few goats in the Catskills.
That last one — the goats — was a virtual experience we got to try out for ourselves before the official launch. It included plenty of up-close shots with the adorable creatures, lots of new facts about the animals (did you know goats have a 312-degree field of vision) as well as a question and answer time with their owner, Meagan. In all, the experience lasted about an hour, cost just $10, and would make for an excellent afternoon (and educational) activity for kids, or those curious about the creatures.
“It’s so important for us to preserve the human connection that is at the core of Airbnb Experiences, and guests can continue to expect this connection with our new offering, globally and virtually,” Powell told T+L.
Want more? How about learning the secrets of magi, making coffee with a professional coffee taster, or even bartending with experts? Want to use this time to get in shape? Log on for a HIIT workout, learn about nutrition with a Bobsledder, or go on a virtual bike tour while riding your spin bike.
The best part is that while you and your family get a meaningful experience, you’re also helping provide an income to people who have lost much of theirs as we practice self-isolation. “In a time where so many people are being impacted financially, we wanted to do our part to provide an opportunity for our hosts to continue to earn some money while they are sheltering at home to stay safe,” said Powell.
Airbnb is also taking the extra step to help some of our most vulnerable find human connection in these uncertain times using virtual experiences. “Millions of elderly people are isolated and are at greater risk to their health due to the current crisis. We’ve partnered with local organizations around the world — like SAGE in the United States, Associazione Nazionale Alpini – Sezione di Milan in Italy, and Amigos de los Mayores in Spain — to provide Online Experiences to their communities for free so they are able to find human connection, and maybe even learn a new skill,” said Powell.
Bookings are available for more than 50 virtual Airbnb Experiences right now on Airbnb, with thousands more expected to come online in the coming months. All online Experiences will be hosted on Zoom. Airbnb will be providing Hosts access to Zoom for free along with personalized support services for curating, capturing, and sharing their online Experience. Check out all the classes now and sign up to learn a new skill or two (or three, or four).
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