Homemade breakfasts, walking tours, neighborhood activities, and more —Superhosts go above and beyond when it comes to making guests feel welcome. In fact, about 30 percent* of Airbnb homes hosts have offered tours and activities to guests. And some hosts have even made these offerings official by expanding into Experiences.
Take Superhosts Patricia Ramos and Oscar Fernandez, who were one of the first Experience hosts in Cuba. The couple, who are both economics professors at the University of Havana, started as home hosts. Now, they also host four Experiences: a two-day cultural adventure in Havana and rural areas; a half-day walking tour of authentic Havana; a day-long excursion to the Cuban countryside to grow coffee, raise animals, and live off the land; as well as a two-hour conversation about the Cuban economy and society over Cuba Libres or beverage of choice. Plus, “we have encouraged friends to host 15 other Experiences,” Oscar said.
Patricia and Oscar talked to us about how they took their entrepreneurship to the next level.
So how did you get started with Experiences?
Oscar: Well, we were spending two hours with every guest during every check-in because we wanted to tell them everything we knew about Cuba. And we enjoyed it a lot because we felt like we were professors, just with a new kind of student.
Patricia: Then people started to review us and wrote about [our impromptu tours]. So when Airbnb launched Experiences in Cuba, we thought, Why don’t we create an experience like we’re already doing at check-in?
Tell us about your first Experience, Being Cuban Adventure. What makes it unique?
Patricia: For the most part, international visitors coming to Cuba are expecting to hear about tobacco, rum, and salsa music. But what we wanted to do is show guests a little bit more: how the educational system, the health system, and the markets work; and how people live on such low wages. We do a walking tour around the city, and show them places that aren’t for tourists, like Coppelia, which is the kingdom of ice cream. It’s about 25 cents U.S. for five scoops of ice cream. There is about a 30-minute wait, and people socialize and even have meetings while waiting in line—it’s a snapshot of Cuban society. We also take our guests on public transportation, which is not common at all [for tourists]. At the end of the day, they feel like they did something really big and can speak to how Cubans really live in a socialist society.
What’s the best part about being an Experience host?
Oscar: The knowledge and cultural enrichment is amazing. Every time, you share your culture. We are still professors at the university, so we encourage our younger colleagues to co-host the Experience with us. We also feel Airbnb has generated jobs and improved lives. For our “Life in the Countryside” Experience, we take our guests to a rural area to meet our family friends who live off the land by fishing and growing fruit and coffee. Now, we bring guests there about three times a week, and our friends are entrepreneurs now, too.
Any advice for other hosts thinking about creating an Experience?
Patricia: It’s all about whether you have something to share and whether you truly want to share it with others.
Oscar: Because opening yourself up to guests is what it’s all about. You must be yourself and authentic, otherwise you’re not going to be successful.
*Based on Airbnb internal research of more than 100 hosts.