How to Make Money as an Airbnb Experience Host

Do you want to learn how to become an Airbnb experience host? Whether you want to host cooking classes, walking tours, bike rides, pub crawls, paddleboard adventures, or something else, there are many different types of Airbnb experiences that you may be able to host and make money with. This can be a great way…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: August 10, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Do you want to learn how to become an Airbnb experience host?

Whether you want to host cooking classes, walking tours, bike rides, pub crawls, paddleboard adventures, or something else, there are many different types of Airbnb experiences that you may be able to host and make money with.

This can be a great way to make extra money, as well as meet new people and tourists.

You could make hosting Airbnb experiences a side gig or even a full-time job. It simply depends on your availability and what your goals are.

Today, I have interviewed Martin Dasko on how to make money as an Airbnb experience host.

Martin is an Airbnb experience host and he takes guests to unique coffee shops around where he lives. He is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the topic of how to become an Airbnb experience host.

In this interview, you’ll learn answers to questions such as:

  • What is an Airbnb experience?
  • How much do Airbnb experience hosts make?
  • What are some examples of Airbnb experiences that I can host?
  • How do I start an Airbnb hosting experience?
  • Is hosting an Airbnb experience worth it?

And more! This interview is packed full of valuable information on how to become an Airbnb experience host.

Martin also has a book, How You Can Start Making Money With Airbnb Experiences Today, as well as a course, Experience Empire Builder, if you are interested in learning more on this topic.

How to become an Airbnb experience host

1. Please give us a little background on yourself and how you got started with Airbnb experiences.

As a personal finance blogger at Studenomics, I’ve always researched new side hustles to test out and write about for my readers.

As time goes on, you realize that some side hustles are worth the effort while others aren’t. My goal is to figure out which side hustles are worth pursuing for those with limited time who are looking to make some money.

For some reason, I had the idea of bringing guests to cool coffee shops across the city. In 2018, I kept on discussing this idea with a friend who I often met for coffee. I was set on finding a way to get paid to drink coffee and to show people the cool coffee shops around Toronto.

I just wasn’t sure of how I would run such a concept. I had no clue how I would advertise, find guests, or even get paid. So I just put the idea on the backburner.

So then in 2019, I was in Costa Rica when an email popped up from Airbnb about activities that I should consider near me. I didn’t know what this was about so I looked into it. I ended up signing up for some scenery walk because it looked interesting and we were looking for something to do that evening. 

When I went on the actual experience, I realized that I was meeting some random dude (the experience host) who was just going to show us a popular trail (we were the only ones there with a tour guide).

I asked him how he ended up in my mailbox. He informed me that he applied to host an Airbnb Experience on the platform and that Airbnb took care of everything else. This made sense to me because the email that I received from Airbnb was professional and enticing. 

I couldn’t believe it. When I returned back to Toronto, I started researching to figure out how I could get listed on Airbnb. I eventually went through the application process and got approved to host my own experience (after getting denied the first time around) which would be a coffee crawl where I take guests to unique coffee shops around my community. 

How To Become An Airbnb Experience Host. Want to learn how to become an Airbnb experience host? Here's how much you can earn as an Airbnb experience host and how to get started hosting Airbnb experiences.
Here I am hosting an Airbnb experience.

2. If you don’t mind sharing – how much do you earn as an Airbnb experience host?

You earn 80% of the experience and the price depends on how much you charge.

When I first started, I had a low introductory rate to attract guests so that I could get better at hosting. I raised the prices as I improved my process and the experience became more popular. 

On a coffee tour, I charged anywhere from $25-30. I would make about $11/per person. If I had 10 people and two hours per day, I could earn a few hundred dollars.

Then you get tips. These aren’t as common with an Experience, but you still get some tips. This all adds up.

I haven’t started up yet because Canada had intense measures so I couldn’t give you a recent rate. My goal is to run coffee crawls across Toronto this summer. 

The goal is to charge a decent rate for your experience while keeping expenses low. 

So for example, photography tours work well because you only have to bring your camera. 

An experience is the perfect side hustle because you’re guaranteed to get paid every single time.

If you’re not sure how much money you could earn, the trick is to look up similar experiences near you to see what they’re charging. Then you want to run as many experiences as you can based on your schedule. The goal from there is to fill up every experience with 10 guests to maximize your earnings or to offer private tours at a higher rate.

3. What do you like about being an Airbnb experience host? 

The best part of being an experience host is that you’re in control of everything so you can be as creative as you want to be.

You can create your own experience, customize it, and be in control of the entire process. 

I was also happy with the work that Airbnb did to promote my experience when I first started.

For example, I had a friend visiting town reach out to me about hanging out. He booked an Airbnb unit for the weekend. Then a few days before the trip, he sent me a funny screenshot. Airbnb emailed him suggesting that he do my coffee crawl on Saturday morning. 

With Experiences, you don’t have to stress about doing all of the advertising. The app will promote for you and handle that end of the business. 

With many other side hustles, you essentially have to spend a lot of time on advertising and marketing. This can be a struggle for new entrepreneurs who are looking to just make some money on the side. 

Airbnb also does all of the other work for you (from collecting money to handling requests).

As an entrepreneur, you have to figure out how you’re going to make money and get paid. Airbnb handles all of that for you so that you have less to think about. You can focus on delivering the best possible tour for your guests.

I also like the fact that you can turn any hobby into a profitable business. I’ve attached various screenshots of images around the world to show you can turn any hobby into a side hustle (from hiking to yoga).

4. What is an Airbnb experience?

An experience is pretty much any activity that you can offer on the Airbnb platform.

Activities range from food tours to any other unique idea that you can come up with.

Here’s the official description of Airbnb Experiences: 

“Airbnb Experiences are in-person or online activities hosted by inspiring local experts. They go beyond typical tours or classes by immersing guests in a Host’s unique world.”

In other words, an Airbnb Experience is essentially any activity that can be offered as a thing to do. There are people offering astronomy tours, hikes up to Hollywood sign, and the opportunity to forge a knife from a horseshoe. More on ideas later.

5. How do Airbnb experiences work?

Airbnb Experiences depend on what kind of activity you plan on offering.

Here’s a general overview of the process…

For guests:

Guests on the Airbnb platform get a list of things to do when they book a unit or look up a town. Your goal is to get enough reviews so that you always pop up when someone’s in your town or near you. 

For hosts:

You think of an experience, then you apply and wait to get approved. Once you’re accepted, you have to schedule out dates in advance for guests to book. Then you deliver the experience to guests who book that specific date and time. 

I ensured that my experience information page was accurate and extremely thorough. You want to include everything from directions to the meeting place to what they should expect to do with a timeline. 

I would meet guests at a popular location (The Drake cafe– nothing to do with Drake). Then we would go through 3 coffee shops. We started off with Ethiopian coffee, then we walked through Queen West before arriving at an Armenian coffee shop where we had Turkish coffee, and then we finished off with coffee in the park. Every group had its own unique dynamic and no experiences were identical. 

6. What are some Airbnb experience ideas?

This is where things get interesting. 

Pretty much anything can be an experience. The categories range from sports to drinking to eating to history. 

I’ve noticed that tours tend to perform the best on the app. 

I had many guests start coffee crawls when they returned back home. We had coffee crawls in Barcelona, England, Montreal and Charlotte. 

Here are some popular experience ideas: 

  • Anything to do with a popular landmark.
  • Eating any kind of food.
  • The history of the area.
  • A mix of food and walking.

Here are some of the most unique experience ideas:

  • Eating fire seminar.
  • Tango classes in a coffee shop.
  • Being a mermaid for a day.
  • Bob Ross painting class.
  • Farm chores in the morning.
  • Running up the stairs like Rocky. 

Here are some common Airbnb experience ideas:

  • Food tour. We all want to eat the tasty local cuisine when we explore a new place.
  • Walking tour. We all want to see the popular attractions. 
  • Photography tour. We all want the perfect photo for Instagram. 

Can’t think of anything unique? Don’t worry. You can keep it simple. Your town may need a European food tour.

For the sake of this interview, I looked up a few popular places.

Here are some of the top experiences in major cities. 

  • New York City: Walk and eat, food tour, gangster tour, explore Brooklyn street art.
  • Denver: All kinds of hiking tours, astronomy tour, downtown pub crawls, hike the tallest peak, and even axe throwing.
  • Orlando: Paddleboard adventure, painting with a view, farm chores, and all kinds of hikes.
  • Dallas: JFK assassination tour, sightseeing, yoga in the park
  • Los Angeles: Hollywood sign hike, surf lessons, and anything to do with hiking.

Type in the city name and you’ll find unique experiences in every city across the globe. 

7. How much do Airbnb experience hosts make?

How much you make will depend on how much you charge and how many guests you get per experience. 

This is where it all comes down to value.

The more unique your experience is, the more that you can charge.

The goal is to have a decent profit margin with a sold-out experience. I found that my weekend crawls had up to 10 guests. So I could’ve made over $100. Then you got tips sometimes. 

Here’s how you can maximize your earnings with Airbnb Experiences:

  • Run multiple experiences. I’ve applied to host multiple different coffee shops. You can have many experiences in the same town.
  • Hire a co-host. You can run multiple experiences simultaneously by hiring a co-host to work with you.
  • Form partnerships. You can form business partnerships with any potential partners (this will depend on the activity).

8. What percentage does Airbnb take for experiences?

They take 20%. This seems like a fair number because they provide the platform, handle the advertising, and collect the money for you. You can focus on delivering the best possible experience.

There are some people who lead users to their Instagram page where they offer private tours. 

9. I’ve been hearing a lot about virtual Airbnb experiences. What is a virtual Airbnb experience?

This is an experience that you offer over Zoom.

For a virtual experience to work, you have to think of an interactive idea that can be done through your laptop and can be enjoyed by anyone around the world. 

I met a host who does tarot card reading and her experience took off during the pandemic. She did tarot card reading sessions all day from her living room during the lockdown.

I met another gentleman who plays piano in his living room. He puts on concerts in his living room for guests around the world.

Many Olympic athletes were also offering experiences during lockdowns where they shared mindset tips.

Cooking experiences are also popular because people are looking to sample food from around the world.

For the sake of transparency, I wasn’t able to convince Airbnb that my coffee crawl could be done over Zoom. It turns out that coffee drinking doesn’t translate as well to the virtual world.

With virtual experiences, Airbnb looks for the following:

  • Expertise.
  • Participation.
  • Easy to do.
  • Technical quality.

If you could brainstorm something that you could do from home, you could get paid to sit on the couch.

10. Are there Airbnb experience host requirements? For example, do you have to be an expert or have a degree?

This is where things get a bit confusing. You kind of have to sell yourself on what makes you a good host. Airbnb will ask about your credentials and anything that could make you think that you’re right for this.

The first time that I applied for the coffee crawl I was actually denied. I realized that I didn’t sell myself enough. I didn’t clearly display that I knew what I was talking about.

Here’s how you can prove that you’re an expert on a topic:

  • Show off your social media handles if you discuss this subject at all.
  • Share any accomplishments that you have in the field. 
  • Talk about your history in this field. 
  • Clearly explain why you’re fit to host this experience.
  • Share anything that proves you know what you’re talking about. 

The good news is that you’re likely going to start an experience in something that you’re familiar with so it should be easy to prove that you’re an expert or that you at least know what you’re doing. 

I helped a reader get approved for a history tour by having them share their Instagram profile where they discussed the entire history of the area already. Airbnb just wants to know that you’re not clueless about the topic. 

Here’s what will help you get approved:

  1. A clear plan for the experience. How long will the experience be? What will the guest do? 
  2. Proof that you understand the topic. What proof do you have that you know about this topic?

Good luck with getting approved. 

11. Can you list the steps needed to get started as an Airbnb experience host?

The most important thing is to get your experience approved on the Airbnb platform. You have to fill out the application on the Airbnb platform for approval. 

This can seem intimidating at first, but I’ve managed to fill it out in less than 15 minutes. 

You’re going to need the following information to apply:

  • Basic details about your experience.
  • The theme of the experience.
  • Where you’re going to start.
  • What you’re going to do.
  • What makes you qualified to do this?
  • What guests need to know about the experience. 

I have applied for many experiences during the last few years. The questions may change depending on the level of interaction of the activity. 

When you go to apply, you’re going to be asked a variety of questions ranging from the general theme of the experience to 

Your goal is to perfect the application process. So here’s what you should do:

  • Do a run-through of the experience.
  • Get some quality pictures. 

When you apply, your goal is to make it look like you’ve thought this experience through. Airbnb doesn’t want you to wing it or to rip people off by not providing a good enough activity. 

The good news is if you get denied, you’ll be given feedback. So you can modify your application and apply multiple times until you get approved. 

You can also pause your application if you need a break. I started working on an application in the last few days and Airbnb sent me an email with helpful tips. The email offered to help me with the description, with finding the perfect photos, and with optimizing the perfect idea. 

12. Are there any other tips that you have for someone who wants to try to become an Airbnb experience host? 

I would recommend turning a unique passion into a profitable hobby. 

This means that you can take any unique idea that you have and try to go all-in on it as an activity on the Airbnb platform.

For example, these are some of the most unique ideas out there: 

  • Eating fire.
  • Dressing up as a mermaid.
  • Goat yoga.
  • Astronomy tour.

The Airbnb team often recommends that you think of something unique. They specifically state this frequently in the marketing material:

We’re looking for experiences that give guests access to special places or communities, or unique activities that guests wouldn’t be able to do on their own.”

Airbnb goes on to mention that they’re looking for a, ”well-informed enthusiast.”

What this means is that there’s nothing off-limits and that being passionate about a topic is a qualification. 

I would also suggest that you try out a similar activity near you first to go through the process. The experience begins the moment that the person signs up. You want to ensure that they have all of the information that they need. Then I would send a welcome message (you should save a few of these templates).

13. Can you tell me more about the resource you offer?

I wrote an entire guide and created a course helping you turn your experience idea into an empire that brings in real money. 

I believe that anyone can turn an idea into a profitable business. You can then turn this profitable business into an empire.

You can run multiple experiences, hire a co-host, and have multiple streams of income coming in. 

You can grab the book to get started or you can take the course to go all in. You can also read my free blog post How You Can Make Money From Hosting an Airbnb Experience to learn more.

Are you interested in learning how to become an Airbnb experience host?

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. While gas prices continue to skyrocket, this is also the era where people should be willing to change the way they think and rely less on their day jobs for income. I arguably agree that AirBNB is one of the best passive income-based side hustles, simply because people are always looking for a nice place to stay at an affordable price. Air BNB will always be a profitable side hustle in my mind. Not only is this a profitable side hustle, but it’s also a healthy and stable passive income stream affiliate marketers, bloggers, and other Internet-based side hustlers should look into as a means of keeping steady streams of passive income coming in for years to come. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Martin Dasko

      With high gas prices, you can also offer many walking tours to give people a chance to explore the city on foot.

      1. This is very true, Martin. I couldn’t agree with you more. I would also advocate to people that creating gasoline related YouTube videos and showing people what gas stations has the lowest price on 87 octane grade gasoline would make a great you to base side hustle.

        That kind of gas related side hustle on video broadcasted through YouTube would instantly earn in my honest opinion steady streams of passive income. Your thoughts on this?

  2. Prior to Covid we did this – we live in a popular city, but one where you really need a car to get to some of the amazing out door experiences – and many people aren’t confident driving/navigating here (or don’t want to deal with the cost/hassle of renting a car). So we did tours out to these spots, pickup, dropoff, everything!

    1. Martin Dasko

      I love to hear it. I learned about experiences when I was in Costa Rica and paid to go see a popular sunset lookout. As a tourist, you have limited time and want things done for you. This is why sometimes the simplest experience can work.

    2. NZ…

      Gas prices on this end are now at $.99 to $5.01 per gallon for 87 octance gas. What are gas prices looking like on your end?

  3. […] One cool thing about Airbnb is that you don’t need to have a property to earn money on the platform, as Martin from Studenomics explains at Making Sense of Cents. How to Make Money as an Airbnb Experience Host. […]

  4. Didn’t know that AirBnB does the marketing/promotion for you like that, though it makes sense if you have to apply and they take 20%.

    I wonder what kind of experiences people have had success with in suburban areas, most of what’s discussed is in city centers or urban areas. Do people ever ask for refunds if they didn’t like the experience or it wasn’t up to par?

  5. I think this is a great way to make extra money and meet new people. I’ve been thinking about doing something like this myself, but I’m not sure what type of experience I could offer. Do you have any advice on how to come up with ideas for experiences in addition to what you’ve already included?

  6. Jay Zzzzz

    I’m a bit confused by this, from the AirBnb site:
    What doesn’t qualify as an Experience Accommodations?
    -Experiences that include accommodations or lodging of any kind are not permitted outside of Airbnb Adventures.

    So does this mean that I cannot simultaneously host and provide experiences to my visitors? I want to offer immersion yoga to my guests. Thanks in advance for your replies!