Virtual Travel

Meditate with monks or work out with an Olympian: Airbnb launches virtual experiences

The goal of Airbnb Experiences has always been to help travellers immerse themselves in their destination — now they've taken the concept online

10 April 2020 - 12:57 By Sanet Oberholzer
One of the local Airbnb Experiences on offer online involves encounters with penguins.
One of the local Airbnb Experiences on offer online involves encounters with penguins.
Image: Craig Harding

There is no better time than lockdown to learn the secrets of Moroccan cooking with a Moroccan family or to centre yourself during a session of meditation with Buddhist monks. Perhaps what you need is a lesson in magic tricks to keep the kids entertained or a session of Irish dancing to get your sleepy limbs moving.

Taking the concept of Airbnb Experiences online, Airbnb has now launched Airbnb Online Experiences in an attempt to allow hosts to continue earning an income during this time of global lockdown and to provide people with the opportunity to connect with people and travel virtually.

“Human connection is at the core of what we do,” says Catherine Powell, head of Airbnb Experiences. “With so many people needing to stay indoors to protect their health, we want to provide an opportunity for our hosts to connect with our global community of guests in the only way possible right now, online.”

Launched in 2016, the idea behind Airbnb Experiences is to offer travellers the opportunity to join a local host for a tour or workshop and fully immerse themselves in their destination.

In the mix of online classes to choose from, there are two in SA. The Meet the Penguins experience is a one-hour chat and crafts workshop, which is ideal for the whole family and ticks all the boxes: biology, conservation and even art.

Lessons from Apartheid offers a look into the history of apartheid from the perspective of a Capetonian born and raised in District 6. Virtually explore Cape Town’s heritage sites and attractions as you discuss the roles they played in shaping the city’s history.

There are more than 50 classes to choose from and more will be added in the coming months. Classes are hosted on Zoom and there is an experience to suit every budget, with most experiences ranging between R21 and R1,162 per person.

For more information or to make a booking, visit airbnb.com/online-experiences.