347: Airbnb Experiences: Make Money w/ Your Unique Local Experience

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Michele Mattix

Can you get paid to breathe? Well, that’s certainly part of Michele Mattix’s guided meditation Airbnb Experience.

Airbnb Experiences are activities led by locals, and Michele jumped at the chance to reach a new audience for her meditation instruction.

When travelers book a stay in Arizona using Airbnb, they are also offered one of Michele’s meditation experiences — for $49 per person!

This enables Michele to take advantage of the huge marketing machine that is Airbnb. They drive the traffic and raise awareness of her meditation experiences, and it’s paying off.

Tune in to hear how Michele found her first experience customers, what she’s done to market and grow her business, and how you may be able to apply the same strategies to an experience of your own.

Michele’s First Guided Meditation Experiences

After earning her meditation instructor certification, Michele’s first idea was to teach meditation classes in her area.

She needed a space to do this, so she started reaching out to all the yoga studios in her area with an email introducing herself.

Michele kept her outreach email short and sweet. (Information overload is a common mistake people make when reaching out to someone they don’t know for the first time.)

Her email looked like this:

Hi, my name’s Michele.

I’m a certified medication teacher. I see you have these classes at your yoga studio, I’m thinking it might be an interesting fit for me to come in and teach meditation at your studio, what do you think?

A handful of studios got back to Michele, and a few of those were a good fit.

“The ones that did work out for me were, of course, entrepreneurial,” Michelle said.

One studio in particular worked out really well. They rented out space to Michele for a flat fee, added her to their site and email marketing, and let her use their location for her meditation classes.

Michele started running 90-minute meditation classes at this studio in the evenings and on weekends outside of her day job.

How Did You Get Started on the Airbnb Experiences Platform?

In Sedona, Michele ran more classes at resorts and spas, but it wasn’t working out as she wanted it to. It was only when she discovered Airbnb Experiences that she saw the business model she really wanted.

Airbnb Experiences are activities led by locals that Airbnb market and promote to customers booking stays. Michele jumped at the chance to host her meditation classes with them and pitched them her idea.

“Next thing I know I’m hosting experiences and seeing, heck yeah, this thing works,” Michele told me.

Now she was able to run her classes outdoors, weather permitting, and didn’t have to answer to anyone else. Saving costs on renting a space and the other hassle that comes with finding somewhere was a huge plus for her.

What’s the Vetting/Screening Process Like?

When Michele pitched her idea to Airbnb Experiences, she had to provide the following information about her meditation classes:

  • Details on how long does her activity lasts
  • A written summary of what customers can expect
  • Select the category if falls under
  • Post some real pictures of your activity (Michele gathered some friends to “stage” an outdoor class as she hadn’t run one when pitching her idea)

She heard back shortly after that she had been accepted. As soon as Michele started scheduling classes, she started getting bookings right away. Her first experience had five people, and it grew from there.

There have been occasions when only one person has turned up though. Michele said Airbnb does not look favorably upon you if you cancel for any reason other than the weather. So, she still goes ahead with her experiences regardless of the number of customers.

Michele has since learned how to predict the seasonality of her niche and now schedules more or less depending on the time of year to reduce the chance of one-on-ones.

What’s the Prices/Average Hourly Rate Working out At?

Michele is selling her experiences at $49 per person. The average number of people she has on an experience is 4, and she’s running them every day during the peak season.

She doesn’t know what her average hourly rate works out at but said: “It definitely makes it worth my while.”

Her advice for anyone starting now on the platform is to start with a lower price point. Build up some reviews and “street cred,” and raise your prices as you become one the highest-rated experiences of your kind in your area.

What’s Airbnb’s Cut?

The price you list your experience at is what the customer pays Airbnb. They the company takes a 20% cut for facilitating that transaction.

How Far out Do People Book?

When you schedule dates for your experiences, Airbnb will market them to people as they make bookings to stay in your area for those dates.

Michele explained it’s in your best interest to schedule experiences as far ahead as you can to reach as many people as possible.

Collect Airbnb Experiences Reviews

Five-star reviews are always important and show social proof that your experience is one worth booking.

Back when she started out, Michele would end her sessions with a little talk on how important reviews are to her and kindly ask people to take the time to leave one. This worked really well, and at press time, her main Airbnb Experience had well over 100 5-star ratings.

Michele said most people will not think of leaving a review unless you educate them on how and why they should.

She also said that Airbnb will actually email you if you get a 3-star review or below and offer tips on how to improve your experience.

It’s definitely something they pay attention too, and worth the time trying to encourage reviews early on.

Adding More Experiences

Michele has added two more meditation experiences:

  1. A loving kindness meditation experience
  2. A chakras balancing meditation experience

“The strategy behind it was to diversify,” Michele told me.

It was just as much for her benefit as it was her customers. Michele said it can become repetitious doing the same experience up to 9 times a week.

She also has some other ideas she’s working on and will be adding more experiences in the future.

Syndicating Your Experiences on Other Platforms

Airbnb Experiences isn’t the only platform you can host experiences on. Michele has also tried using TripAdvisor, Eventbrite, and Facebook Groups, but didn’t get any traction at all on these platforms.

She puts this down to the marketing power and control Airbnb has. It’s convenient to upsell an experience to a customer already using their platform and staying in the area.

She has seen other people do well on these platforms though. So, it might be industry-specific, or something else. She recommends people try other platforms for themselves. Michele is looking to diversify her traffic sources, she’s putting time into her own website and using Google My Business for more visibility in the search results.

Any Plans to Hire Help and Grow the Business?

Airbnb does have a co-host program for their experiences, much like they do with their rental side. The problem Michele sees with this, however, is that there are low barriers to entry for the platform. If she’s going to spend time training someone else and splitting the fees, what’s to stop them running their own experience?

If you want to learn more about how you can use Airbnb’s Experience platform and market your own experience, Michele has put together a free webinar over at HostYourExperience.com/free-call.

Michele’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

“Adopt an experience mindset – people want immersive experiences.”

Links and Resources from this Episode

  • Sedona Meditation Experiences
  • Host Your Experience
  • Airbnb Experiences
  • TripAdvisor
  • Vayable
  • Eventbrite
  • Google My Business

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