News and HeadlinesIndiana Coronavirus News


Airbnb Experiences offers exotic stay-at-home vacations that will take you away

Posted at 9:08 PM, Jul 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting vacations on hold across the country. Luckily, Airbnb Experiences is offering a getaway that doesn't require leaving the house.

The new program offers worldly activities with chefs, fitness trainers and other experts from various fields.

Like coffee? Take a coffee lesson from a national judge. Need to relax? Try meditation, "guided with sleepy sheep." Or, learn how to meditate with a Buddhist Monk.

There's yoga, wine tasting and cooking classes — but the dogs of Chernobyl experience is getting the most attention. The experience, guided by a Ukrainian native, introduces users to the dogs of Chernobyl — the second- and third-generation of wild dogs who were in the region when the nuclear disaster took place.

It's been a rough year for Airbnb. In a business reliant on travel, COVID-19 was a huge hit for the company.

"When you're in travel and tourism and you get hit with a global pandemic there is no necessary playbook for that," said Chris Lehane, the Senior Vice President for Policy and Communications at Airbnb.

But Airbnb has adapted. They've realized that people still need a way to escape while stuck at home.

Airbnb has also seen a rise in customers traveling to rural areas within driving distance.

"Sixty percent of traveling in Airbnb is within 300 miles of where someone lives," Lehane said. "I say this as a father of two teenage boys — people are looking to get in their car and drive without stopping."

Airbnb says one of its top "trending" destinations is southwest Michigan. Hannah Heyn and her family rent out four different places in Sawyer, Michigan on Airbnb.

"It's very special in the sense that there's a lot of breweries, wineries, beaches, trails," Heyn said, "It's a little treasure in our Midwest area, and when you love your area, you want to share it with others. And we love doing that."

Airbnb is their primary source of income, and they're just now coming back from the rough stay-at-home spring. Now Heyn is booked through August, and the "Superhost" is learning new things about the place she calls home.

"We had a guy coming to learn how to make better and fancier chocolates, and I didn't know we had that," she said. "He was meeting with a top chef here to learn how to make delicate designs on chocolate."

Airbnb has also introduced an "Enhanced Clean" option, which Lehane says gives hosts more control over their environments and allows vacationers to feel more comfortable.

"The protocol includes the types of equipment to use when cleaning, the type of chemicals you should use...really explaining and educating and providing protocol about the difference between cleaning, picking up clutter and dust-and-sanitizing," Lehane said.