Airbnb Experiences for Social Impact
Updated: Feb 21
When I first caught wind that Brian Chesky was working on ‘transformational’ experiences as the next next of Airbnb, I thought it sounded overly optimistic and naive, in a way. As if you can really transform people in a moment?! But last night, I found myself at Airbnb HQ for the second time in the last few weeks, learning about what Airbnb is doing with the experiences team, social impact organizations, volunteers, and non-profit organizations. I found myself humbled and inspired. I felt the same threads that drove the early success of Couchsurfing spoken through the articulate and seemingly generous hosts.
Not only is Airbnb doing trips and experiences for learning new skills or gaining a different awareness on a specific topic, but they are also empowering 501c3’s and their global equivalents to offer experiences which donate 100% of the proceeds to a non-profit of choice. That means neither the host nor Airbnb get paid for these social impact experiences.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the phrase ‘social impact,’ my mind goes numb as that can mean a zillion different things depending on the context. To give you some ideas on what hosts and social impact organizations are doing through Airbnb, I’ll offer some stories that I learned directly from the people who are leading these experiences.
Kerry Rodgers – Moderator – Social Impact consultant at Airbnb
Jessemin Sage – Airbnb Experiences Consultant Jessemin is an international sustainable tourism specialist with experience in planning, developing, and managing innovative travel programs across Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and is a Social Impact consultant at Airbnb.
Jack Beck – Queer History Bike Experience Host Jack has worked with LGBTQ organizations around the world for the past 10 years. He has lived in the Bay Area nearly as long, and he is constantly inspired by the city’s long history of queer residents, dissidents, organizers, and outlaws. Jack serves as Director of TurnOut, a local nonprofit that works to connect volunteers with LGBTQ causes, and is an Airbnb Social Impact Experience host.
Priya Kothari – Tenderloin St. Antonys Volunteer & Experience Host Priya advises organizations with a social mission on their impact. She also writes extensively about social justice and is an Airbnb Social Impact Experience host. She was previously Head of Economics at Save the Children UK and a Chief of Staff at the Bank of England.
About the Experiences
I was impressed by the depth and breadth of the Airbnb Experiences, especially where social impact is concerned. The way that Priya Kothari talked about her Neighbors in Need tour, which takes people through a walk around the Tenderloin and to help volunteer by cooking a meal at St. Anthony’s was truly inspiring. From her Airbnb experience page, “To dine with St. Anthony’s Chef Pepe & hear about his mission to bring fresh food to those in need. And you’ll join St. Anthony’s volunteers in serving a meal to the community.” She spoke of families, locals, and all different types of people joining on her tour and some of them even becoming long-term volunteers at St. Antony’s themselves because they were so touched by the experience. I was touched by how she, herself, volunteers to do these tours and 100% of the proceeds go not to Airbnb nor her, but to St. Anthony’s. Priya also talked about how the value of one new long-term volunteer would be worth her entire effort since it’s quite costly for St. Anthony’s to put these meals together without consistent and dedicated volunteers.
Jack Beck started doing a Airbnb social impact experience to support his organization, TurnOut, which connects LGBQ volunteers all over the Bay Area. Once Jack learned about the deep queer history in SF, he embarked on creating a bike tour to capture all of it with Bike Through Queer History, a roving cycling tour. He keeps the price to $65 to allow the most amount of people to join and says that it’s funny how weather dependent his experience can be – needing to completely reschedule if it rains. All of the proceeds from his experience go to support his nonprofit, TurnOut, mentioned above. From his experience description on Airbnb, “Learn about San Francisco’s hidden queer history by biking through some of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods. From the Gold Rush and Prohibition to World War II and the AIDS crisis, hear seldom-told stories of the people and places that gave San Francisco its reputation as the gayest city in the world.”
Become a Airbnb Experience Host
If you’re interested in doing a social impact experience through Airbnb, they are happening all over the world. What a great form of active philanthropy, supporting locals and organizations while getting a taste of authentic connection to a place. For example, there are currently 48 social impact experiences just in San Francisco! Check out what’s on offer locally or consider creating a social impact experience in your city! You can apply as a volunteer, as a member of an organization, or even a founder of a non-profit. To learn more apply to become a host and someone at Airbnb will give you a call to discuss the details.
Or if you simply want to do an experience through Airbnb, you have to book them through the Airbnb app. If you scroll up, you can see the filter I used with the social impact ribbon. That’s how you’ll find the social impact specific experiences.