Rooms Rentals & Shares

Are Airbnb Hosts Becoming the Travel Agents of the Sharing Economy?


Jun 09, 2014 8:30 am

Skift Take

The idea of having an authentic local travel experience is what drives many travelers to use Airbnb. That could be ruined by recreating a traditional travel cycle in which hosts and agents receive perks for their recommendations.

— Samantha Shankman

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Airbnb Community  / Flickr

An Airbnb sticker outside of a meet-up in Amsterdam. Airbnb Community / Flickr

Are Airbnb hosts becoming the travel agents of the sharing economy?

Those, legally or illegally, hosting a dozen to a few hundred visitors a year are a growing resource for travelers curious about where to go and what to see. For tour operators and restaurants, gaining a following among the Airbnb host community could mean hundreds of new customers.

This was the idea that led Museum Hack, which leads untraditional fun tours around the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History, to start offering free tours to Airbnb hosts.

Museum Hack founder Nick Gray says he found that Airbnb hosts attending a tour ended up sending a lot of repeat business to the company.

In its message to Airbnb hosts, the company writes, “We believe that you will love your free private tour with Museum Hack, and that you’ll rave about us to all of your guests when they visit.”

Museum Hack slightly vets Airbnb hosts by requiring them to have at least two or three reviews to take a free tour. The free tours do not include the company’s most popular and expensive night tours.

Gidsy, once a peer-to-peer platform for connecting local tour guides to travelers, also tried giving free tours to Airbnb hosts in hopes of gaining new customers. Gidsy, which was acquired by GetYourGuide, didn’t see returns.

Gidsy found that most Airbnb guests are domestic travelers not interested in tours.

The company tried giving hosts discount codes that they could give away, but Gidsy founder Edial Dekker says hosts felt weird about paid recommendations. They didn’t want guests to think the hosts were getting a cut.

Do you know of any other tour companies offering free tours or activities to Airbnb hosts? Let us know in the comments.

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