East Aurora, NY Level 1
Los-Angeles based Superhost Burt Blackarach has always excelled at identifying great opportunities. Growing up in a family of musicians and singers, he started running his parents’ music-publishing company at the age of 14. Since then, Burt’s musical career has spanned volumes, from sound engineering a Grammy-winning album and scoring a hit HBO series to composing music for commercials that have aired during the Super Bowl—and more recently, hosting a musical Experience on Airbnb.
We sat down with Burt to find out how he got started hosting an Experience, how that’s influenced the way he welcomes guests to his backyard cottage, and what he’s learned along the way. Here’s what he had to say.
Tell us about your Experience. What makes it unique?
My Experience is Be a DJ for a Day. I host small groups of people in my studio and teach them the basics of recording and mixing, how to pick music, what makes a good beat, all of that stuff. This was the first Experience like this on Airbnb and it hit a lane that nobody else was thinking about.
What made you focus on DJing as an Experience?
A lot of people want to learn to DJ because they think it looks easy, but there’s equipment and selecting music and understanding how it all goes together. It can get involved if you want your stuff to sound good.
I started learning DJing with my friends when I was in 8th grade, which really was the start of my music career. Then the producing and composing and everything else came after — I’ve been doing this for a really long time. So people who sign up for my Experience are getting three hours of hands-on guidance from an expert, but it’s fun and they don’t have to feel threatened. They can really get a lot out of it.
So how did you get started with Experiences?
Doing your thing on Airbnb is really like running your own business. But normally when you start a business, you have to get a business license or a loan, have some capital, and that can be limiting for a lot of people. But on Airbnb you can go in with an idea and ten dollars.
I had heard that Airbnb was doing Experiences, and it sounded pretty cool. I’m a huge fan of Airbnb so anything they do, I’m in 1000%. I wanted to create something that would use my musical background, since that’s my expertise. I submitted the idea and was invited to a meet-and-greet with some of the folks at Airbnb, and they worked with me to help me create my Experience.
At first, we had two components to the Experience. We’d spend time in the studio learning how to mix, and then we’d go to a nearby record store to shop for sounds. But I’ve refined it down to just the studio part since that’s what people are really there for, and it takes out some of the logistics. Just like managing a listing, you want to play with different things to figure out what will work.
You’re also a Superhost. How has that influenced your Experience hosting?
I learned a lot from hosting guests in our listing. We live right in the center of L.A., with everything 15 minutes away with no traffic, so at first I thought we could just throw up the listing and it would book itself. But my wife always went the extra mile, making sure the cottage was clean and nicely designed, with nice amenities.
Overall, I think we’ve had success with our listing by taking an approach of not short-changing people and making sure we treat them well. Seeing how that operated in getting us to the Superhost level, I applied the same thing toward being an Experience host.
What’s the best part about being an Experience host?
It’s really put new life and energy into my music career. It gives me an outlet to get out a lot of my creative juices. As an artist, you get frustrated if you don’t have a creative outlet. And this let’s me play a little bit and also share my skills with people. But it’s also opened up a lot of avenues for my work and I’ve gotten a lot of new projects. I’m even starting to do corporate events incorporating the DJing.
Any advice for other hosts thinking about creating an Experience?
First of all, you have to be knowledgeable in your field. If you’re an ice-cream maker, you need to be able to answer any question about making ice cream. And just like with a listing, be willing to play around with different elements to figure out what really works. But unlike a listing, where you’re changing around the pricing and stuff, you should try to keep the pricing firm with an Experience. It needs to exude value so price it high enough that it’s worthwhile but still accessible to people. They need to feel like they’re getting something special. And make sure they leave with something in their hands. My guests get to pick a few records from my collection so they walk away with something from the Experience.
Congrats Burt, I'm fairly new with Airbnb and I am starting to feel that I have wasted my time for not signing up to be a host thanks to my Mthunzi who has secured a place with friends in Ballito, South Africa who knew I wanted to host people from all the walks of life but did not have an idea where and how to start thanks to Airbnb now I'm board and would make it happened. And by reading Burt story I am encouraged. Once again thank Burt for sharing your story really an eye opener
Congratulations Burt! Both on being a Superhost as well as already having success with Experiences.
You sharing your story is inspiring me to submit my Experience for review.
im a Superhost in downtown Lake Geneva, WI. It turns out that the other house I bought next door to my Airbnb home is famous. It is the home where Gary Gygax lived when he created the game Dungeons & Dragons. It is known as the birthplace of D&D (AKA The Mecca and ground zero of role playing). I’ve had people come knock on my door from all over the world wanting to see the house where it all began. Most would like the opportunity to play in the house. Actor Joe Mangianello played in the house this past March and said it was on his bucket list. See his Instagram post and my FB post on Center Street Dungeon. I’d like to create a D&D Experience for gamers that they will never forget. I’d also like to give back to charities.
I’m thankful to Airbnb for my hosting experiences and appreciate opportunities such as Experience!
I’m a Dj and a Super host. I’ll say I thought about this too, I didn’t think it went with the Airbnb guidelines For hosting so I threw that idea away.
Good inspiration to look into hosting experiences in addition to hosting a home. By the way, your stage name is not lost on me. Love it!!
I'd also like to know why my experience was turned down. I created a listing for touring our island on the back of a Vespa (me being the driver). Thought it was a great idea, clients could tailor where they wanted to go and what they wanted to see. If I needed to tweek the listing I wouldve appreciated knowing how/what, as opposed to just declining it 😕 Would greatly appreciate feedback from anyone. Thanks.
I love the whole concept of adding an experience to what we’re currently doing with Airbnb.
My husband and I are professional musicians...both classical flautists, so I was super interested in Burt weaving his DJ-ing and offering that as an experience along with accommodation.. ( We have a DJ in the family! Go Burt!)
So our two properties are in France and one house in particular is in the old part of what was once a Benedictine community. So..it’s over 300 years old.
Often we have been in France to meet and greet our guests and as an added little sweetener we have played a small recital for them on their last night with us. It’s always received incredibly well.
We also acquired a really nice touring car and, being so knowledgeable about the area and it’s highlights, we wanted to add an experience that would include a chauffeured tour catered to peoples needs which could include excellent restaurants etc and a recital at the end.
I’d love to get your thoughts on whether you reckon this could fly. I was also really impressed to read that Airbnb helped you set up your experience Burt and how that worked?
Good luck everyone!
I love all the experiences listed above- connecting with animals, music, healthy foods, etc. I 'd like feedback on why airbnb did not accept my expereince and what I can do to modify it to suit. I have 2 mongolian yurts, a 100 ft apart in my little woods. One is for my airbnb guests and the other belongs to my meditation community and is a "sanctuary " and safe space for women to be in touch with their cycles of Creation- (Dark Moon lodge) because so many airbnb guests were asking about it I decided to offer an introduction as an experience, for small groups of 4. -sisters, mother & daughters, aunts and grannies etc. Thank you in advance for your help and thanks to Airbnb for making it possible to host the most inspiring, adventurous and trustworthy people around! what a wonderful way to connect with like minded nature lovers! I am happy to share my little hidaway!
Hi Maureen, I love your project of renting out one Mongolian yurt and the second yurt for a sanctuary moon ceremonies... I'd love having these two opportunities just separated in two yurts.
My idea of an Airbnb experience is nearly similar.
Offering meditation, creating powerplace Mandalas in my Healingcentre and hosting my two bedrooms.
If you know your concept of offering your Airbnb experience by hours it would work the best.
Maybe it's just like having a full moon ceremony with one - three nights stay.
That could work in a group of all female family members!?
I'd love sharing your full moon activities.
I do them similar as a modern shamanist and healer anyway. I'd love sharing my experience joining. But the problem I'm noticing: my guests can't take away a fire ritual - they just can take with them photos from the powerplace Mandalas with nature materials like shells, pebbles, blossoms, plants and drifeart from the Westcoast Northsea.
I'd love sharing your concept, what's on going?
Jhamala's Healingcentre & Guesthouse
25746 Wesseln at Heide, Westcoast Northsea, Germany
I am just wondering if a day working with the animals OR a day working with our artesian butcher would be an appropraite EXPERIENCE HOST opportunity for guests ? Thoughts and comments please.
I would say so, yes! People (Americans) pay big bucks for "working" vacations (at least in France based on my research). There are cheese and charcuterie courses in France where you pay for the lesson and stay on-farm with meals included. Often $1,000's a week.
I'm starting an artisan cheese business on a diversified organic farm, which already lets out a "studio" on AirBnB. I already have plans to offer a cheesemaking & sourdough baking intensive. Never thought about being able to host it via AirBnB.
I had great success this year renting our beach property, so I know what it takes to be a good host. But, more than anything, I would love teaching and sharing my craft with others. I think it's awesome that the AirBnB platform may be able to facilitate that in the same way they make it awesome and convenient to share our beach house.