When AirBnB announced that they were bringing their Experiences product to New Zealand, our interest was piqued.
AirBnB Experiences is a relatively new product from the team at AirBnB, and it enables visitors to engage in an activity with a local - to immerse themselves in the day-to-day life of a local.
It is currently being trialed in Queenstown, and if it is successful there it will hopefully roll out around the rest of the country.
The whole kaupapa around Experiences is that it’s an opportunity to do something with a local that they can’t get anywhere else. We think this could open up huge opportunities for Māori tourism in particular.
An Experience can’t be what you offer currently through your business, but it needs to be something different – i.e. a two hour experience with you to head down to the river to catch some kai, then home to help prepare, cook, and eat it. Or to go and participate in waka ama practice with you and your team one morning. Take a walk with you in your neighbourhood bush to collect kawakawa leaves and then learn how to make balm with you. The things that you do in your everyday life, that a visitor may find interesting and want to get involved with and learn more about.
It also has the potential to be an opportunity to host visitors at particular events during specific times of the year. Imagine being a visitor and being taken behind-the-scenes at Te Matatini by your local host to see the roopu getting ready and watch stageside. Or participating in your family's Matariki preparations and celebrations. Imagine a visitor having the opportunity to part of your IronMāori triathlon team!
According to AirBnB, the most popular Experiences are those that take around two hours, cost $100, give an insight into the local’s way of life, allow the visitor to be involved, and most importantly, is something they can’t buy elsewhere – either online or via a booking agent. You can also limit how many people – you may only want 4 people at each experience, or even only 1 or 2. There is also the option to host an all day experience, or multi-day experience.
We also see AirBnB Experiences having the potential to act as a business incubator of sorts, for those thinking of entering the tourism industry. For example, a person could trial a potential tourism experience through AirBnB Experiences - working out the kinks/what works/what manuhiri want – before launching it as a tourism product through existing channels. The infrastructure exists through AirBnB to reach so many people, and enables people to become Experience hosts with relatively few, if any, barriers.
You can read more and sign up to become an Experience host here. AirBnB are keen to see Experiences do well in Queenstown and they are keen to work with NZ Māori Tourism to help interested Māori make the most of this opportunity. If you'd like to discuss this further, please contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org and she can put you in touch with the right people at AirBnB.