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Airbnb Experiences Offer Tourists a Local’s-Eye View of Dallas

Airbnb offers more to its customers than places to stay, like this cabin outside Deep Ellum, thanks to its Experiences program.
Airbnb offers more to its customers than places to stay, like this cabin outside Deep Ellum, thanks to its Experiences program.
Grady McGahan

For artists who know their niche, it’s now easier than ever to share their skill with others.

A well-known air mattress-for-hire company that went global has extended its reach into the arts-and-culture realm with shareable experiences.

While Airbnb’s Experiences are not exactly new, they’re still fairly new to the Dallas area, which currently has about 30 to offer in North Texas.

Whether the occasion calls for a quirky outing, an Uptown pub crawl or treating an out-of-town guest to a Bonnie & Clyde or JFK assassination history tour, the Experiences, which vary in length, price and quirkiness, are there to be explored. And they’re led by locals who know the ins and outs of the area.

“I was in Dallas on vacation and decided to take my wife to this class as a surprise for our anniversary,” one reviewer says about a popular sushi-making event in Plano. “We both love sushi, and so I knew this would be a great experience. I was not disappointed.”

Several scavenger hunts are also up for grabs as well as bring-your-own-camera graffiti photo walks in Deep Ellum. Those cost $9 and last an hour. In addition, Dallas and Fort Worth both offer half-day, booze-included, brewery tours for $75.

A few years ago, New York Experiences initially launched with 150 offerings. According to Airbnb’s website, there are now more than 500 excursions there ranging from thrift store shopping to book store crawling to sketching male model adventures, which allow locals to amp their income.

"Due to high demand from both hosts and guests, Experiences are expanding fast," says Ben Breit, an Airbnb spokesman. "In 2016, we launched 500 Experiences across 12 cities. Now, our platform offers over 25,000 Experiences in 1,000-plus cities."

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While overnight stays are not required to host experiences, the activities are vetted through Airbnb, which encourages hosts to check for any regulations within their city.

“So far, the platform has benefited Airbnb because they have been allowed to operate the Experiences platform in cities where there are significant restrictions or even outright bans on Airbnb (short-term) property rentals,” writes AIRGMS, a company not affiliated with Airbnb.

Arlington, whose downtown area was designated a cultural district in 2016 by the Texas Commission of the Arts, is grappling with the issue of whether and where, to allow short-term rentals to legally operate.

However, City spokeswoman Susan Schrock says regulating arts-and-culture outings are not part of the talks.
“Those kinds of experiences are not currently part of the ongoing discussion regarding short-term rentals,” she said. 

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