By James Wellemeyer
Airbnb is expanding its “Experiences” business to include “Adventures.”
Airbnb Adventures, officially launched on June 13, will be multi-day and overnight trips for up to 12 guests, led by local hosts. They’re completely planned, meaning travelers don’t need to worry about accommodation, meals, or itinerary.
‘Millennials look at ‘tours’ as an older seniors tour group. They think they’re going to be on a bus with a group of old people and then go to a museum and see some statue.’
—Ed Radonic, RadonicRodgers Strategy+
Airbnb is currently offering more than 200 of these organized trips, with more coming before the end of 2019. Some of these adventures are brand new for Airbnb. Others, like a jungle retreat in Bali , were previously listed as experiences and have now been rebranded as adventures.
Airbnb Experiences, which launched in 2016, consist of activities, tours, and classes that generally last a few hours. They range in price from $10 to a few hundred dollars.
The decision to offer Adventures that will include overnight and multi-day trips is partly a marketing tactic, says Ed Radonic, a partner at travel and marketing firm RadonicRodgers Strategy+ . Travelers want adventure; “tours” simply don’t sell anymore, he said.
“Millennials look at ‘tours’ as an older seniors tour group. They think they’re going to be on a bus with a group of old people and then go to a museum and see some statue,” Radonic said. “And older people who are active and do travel want to see a marketing campaign that seems like it’s for younger people or features younger people.”
There’s another possible explanation: It’s an attempt by the company to expand its offerings and business model beyond real-estate listings in a hot 2019 IPO market for the sharing economy including car services Uber /zigman2/quotes/211348248/composite UBER +2.20% and Lyft /zigman2/quotes/208999293/composite LYFT +2.86% , and freelance platforms Upwork /zigman2/quotes/200102859/composite UPWK +2.57% and Fiverr /zigman2/quotes/212683127/composite FVRR +1.28% .
They’re more expensive than they seem
“Airbnb Adventures takes Airbnb Experiences one step further by introducing guests to epic, off-the-beaten-path locations,” Caroline Boone, head of Airbnb Adventures, told MarketWatch.
The shortest adventures last two days and cost anywhere from $79 to a few hundred dollars. Longer trips, such as a six-day Galapagos Slow Food safari , will generally set you back a couple of thousand dollars.
But if you think you’re getting a near-week-long tour of the Galapagos Islands for $3,500, you can think again. This listed price doesn’t include the cost of a flight to bring you to the destination. If you’re flying from New York to Ecuador, that journey will add between $350 and $600 to your trip at minimum.
That may not be too significant considering you’re already spending a few thousand on the adventure itself. But in other cases, a plane ticket will more than double the cost of your trip. If you’re absolutely set on doing the three-day $350 sacred mountain hike “with Samburu warriors” in Nairobi, Kenya, the journey from the U.S. to Nairobi is likely going to add anywhere from $600 to $1,200 to your adventure’s price tag.
Some of the adventures Airbnb advertises are clearly designed for the daring. If you’re brave enough, you can camp on the side of a cliff in Colorado. Soon, you’ll be able to visit six continents and 18 countries in just 80 days on an “around the world” trip . (The $5,000 price doesn’t include the cost of getting to London, where it starts.) But other adventures, like this four-day exploration of Cajun food in New Orleans, seem a bit more like guided tours. Airbnb doesn’t label them that, though.
More people seek ‘adventures’ over ‘tours’
The adventure travel business grew by 21% to $683 billion between 2011 and 2017, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
“There’s been a huge shift in both the type of travel people want and the way the word ‘adventure’ is used in the past 20 years,” Jeff Russill, a senior vice president at the adventure travel company G Adventures , said.
“Everything is now an adventure because that’s what’s appealing,” Russill told MarketWatch. “The parents of the baby boomers wanted to sit on the beach, but the baby boomers want something else.”
He says G Adventures’ fastest growing customer base is people over the age of 55.
Chris Davidson, executive vice president of insights and strategy at travel marketing agency MMGY Global, said there’s been an approximately 20% increase in the desire for “exploration” in travel over the past five years alone, across all generations.
“Travel is a powerful social currency,” Davidson said. “And it’s more powerful to say you had an ‘adventure’ than went on a tour or had an experience.”
With Adventures, Airbnb is hoping to capitalize on this increased desire for exploration and expand its business ahead of an IPO that co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk says could come this year. In March, Airbnb bought last-minute hotel-booking service HotelTonight in its largest acquisition to date.