Small businesses and entrepreneurs in the creative, food and entertainment industries are waking up to the opportunities that Airbnb Experiences can present. From restaurants and coffee shop owners to professional photography companies and tour operators, many are finding new ways to attract and entertain tourists.
Launched in 2016, Airbnb Experiences are activities designed and led by a local who is an “expert”.
Many of the experiences centre around food, fashion or physical and cultural activities.
Experiences typically highlight a local specialty or attraction, for example, a Samurai Swordplay workshop in Tokyo, Japan or an immersive Samba dancing class in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Airbnb Experiences arrived in Cape Town in 2017. In July this year, Airbnb rolled out the initiative to Johannesburg and the rest of the country shortly after.
The benefits of hosting Airbnb Experience are numerous. Simply put, you get more feet in your door. Hosts can use the platform grow their client base – this not only includes tourists, but locals too. Experiences can also be a lead generation tool, and a way for a business to diversify their income stream.
Experiences can also be used by newbie entrepreneurs to dip their toes into the world of entrepreneurship, test their product or services and the size of the market for their offering.
From urban farming in Johannesburg and cooking classes in Durban to photo shoots in the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town and even sand boarding in Port Elizabeth, here’s how South African tourism SMEs are getting in on the action.
A tour of Johannesburg’s coolest, trendiest, artisanal coffee spots including a tour of Melrose Arch, the Johannesburg CBD and the vibrant Maboneng Precinct.
Tourists have the opportunity to get pictures taken by a professional photographer in one of Cape Town’s most picturesque locations, the colourful Bo-Kaap neighbourhood.
“The purpose of this experience is to make you see, feel and understand Bo-Kaap to its fullest and make you a part of this adventure.”
Sand boarding offers an adrenalin-filled nature experience in the sand dunes of Port Elizabeth.
KA PA TÉE is a speciality tea bar. They offer tea and brownie tastings to tourists as part of their Airbnb Experience. Beyond just the tastings, on offer is an educational lesson on tea brewing.
“You pick your preferred menu and we will start preparing your tea selection. We provide you with the tools to start your tea brewing experience with clear and concise instructions. As your tea brews, you sit back and relax and we will bring out the brownies. You can also check out our steampunk brewing machine in action (the only one in Africa) or read one of our coffee table books about the history and benefits of tea.”
Stayqueens WWM, an NGO established to empower and inspire women through networking, workshops, and empowerment programs, offer what they call Zulu Basics.
“By the end of our time together, you will be able to say greetings, and exchange a few words and pleasantries in Zulu. We’ll dive into the Zulu culture as we sit back and relax with cool drinks in our hands. I will also tell you about the must-see places in Johannesburg and suggest some fun spots and tourist attractions.”
Tourists have the opportunity to learn how to extract honey from a beekeeper as well as learn about the world of bees.
“Depending on the time of year, you’ll learn how to extract honey. You’ll also be able to keep a bottle of the honey that we’ve extracted.”
This Experience is a two-hour workshop held at a rooftop food garden, right in the bustle of the Juta Precinct in the Braamfontein neighborhood.
“You will get your hands dirty as I teach you all the basics needed to start your own food garden at home, be it a balcony, backyard, patio, kitchen window sill, rooftop, or alleyway. We’ll cover a lot of topics, including how to select the ideal location for your garden, preparing grow media, selecting plants, maintenance, and harvesting.”
Training with boxing grannies is one of the Experiences available to be booked on the platform. Hosted by the A-Team Foundation, the experience helps promote fitness and bodybuilding in underserved areas and hosting an experience on Airbnb raises funds to renew training material and pay the fitness trainers.
“You’ll meet us for our morning boxing session. These grannies have been training with us for years and will show you the way. We will start with an introduction on our NGO and what we stand for. You will then be paired with a granny who will be your partner for the training.”
This is tour of Johannesburg’s vibrant inner city. It includes stops at Gandhi Square and City Central, as well as pop-up and rooftop bars and restaurants. The tour also includes a beer tasting at a brewery.
“The tour will leave you inspired and astonished by a city once in decline, but currently rediscovering its groove with a diverse set of bars, pubs, restaurants and rooftops all coming alive in the city.”
Founder and creative behind Nomi Handmade, a bespoke jewellery, home décor and accessories line, Thandie hosts a fabric jewellery workshop in her home studio.
“Here we’ll get to know each other over local drinks, snacks and tunes. We’ll also get acquainted with a proudly South African fabric called shweshwe, which I’ll show you how to manipulate into bold and bright jewellery pieces. Whatever you make (3 max), you get to take! Great as a gift or a wearable souvenir.”