"As far as Airbnb and experiences are concerned the future is uncertain but what this has done however is bring alternative experiences into the mainstream."
Quote from Yiannis Maglaras, CEO at Ticknovate, in an article on PhocusWire this week on the status of Airbnb's Experiences division.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered by PhocusWire that week.
If an experience is defined as an event that leaves an impression, then Airbnb’s switch to virtual events during the pandemic, is likely to have had an impact on many users.
As travelers were cooped up in their homes, cocktail demonstrations, pasta making and music lessons kept many entertained, and served as an important link to the outside world.
But even before the world went virtual, Airbnb was steadily building up its experiences content. Figures from Arival reveal 500 experiences at launch in 2016 to 40,000 come the end of 2019.
The tours offering visitors to a destination a feel for the best places to see and eat nearby, guided by a local, fed into the trend towards the local, authentic experience and away from the mass market ‘must do’ attractions.
Fast forward two years and the idea of local experiences has stuck, driven for better or for worse, by the pandemic.
That’s not to say the world’s biggest attractions are no longer on the bucket list. It just means there’s a large market out there to help visitors explore more of a destination.
Agreed, it does all sound a bit cliched but who wouldn’t want a cosy dinner in a local restaurant after a day sightseeing in a busy city?
Airbnb is taking it seriously, having just appointed Bruce Vaughn, a former Disney executive, to head up a new team for developing the company’s offline products.
In bringing alternative experiences into the mainstream, Airbnb has seamlessly made them accessible generally and digitally - a concept that the fragmented tours and activities industry has grappled with for years.
There is no doubting the power of this kind of platform, which in the case of Airbnb just announced its billionth guest.
PhocusWire's editorials examine a trend or development highlighted in an article during the week.