SINGAPORE: Airbnb has expanded its operations in Singapore to offer experiences led by local experts, it announced on Tuesday (Mar 14).
In a media release, the peer-to-peer home sharing site said Singapore was the first Southeast Asian city to debut Airbnb’s Trips feature, which was first announced in November last year. It expands the company's travel booking services to three core elements: Homes, Experiences and Places.
“We want to make travel magical again by immersing curious visitors in local cities and neighbourhoods, offering yet another way for the Airbnb community to help you feel like an insider in Singapore,” Airbnb co-founder and chief product officer Joe Gebbia, who was in Singapore for the announcement, said.
Experiences are designed and led by local experts who can share an insider’s view of their city with travellers, Airbnb said.
One of the first Singapore hosts is 48-year-old hawker Nick Soon, whose stall One Kueh at a Time at Berseh Food Centre in Jalan Besar serves up handmade soon kueh (turnip dumplings), gu chye kueh (chive dumplings) and png kueh (rice dumplings).
He learnt his skills from his parents and left his corporate job to strike out on his own in December 2014, he said.
(Photo: One Kueh at a Time / Facebook)
“Food in Singapore isn’t just about how good something tastes. It represents the way we live, how we think, and how we connect with one another as a community. It tells the story of our history," Mr Soon said.
“Being able to share my parents’ story and this piece of culture and craft with both travellers and locals who want a real taste of Singapore and soon kueh is a privilege," he added.
Other Singapore experiences include making pottery at Thow Kwang Pottery, a family business of three generations, and cooking a meal with locally grown and foraged crops at One Kind House.
Thow Kwang Pottery's "dragon kiln" is is one of the oldest surviving brick-built kilns in Singapore for wood-firing pottery, according to its website.
(Photo: Thow Kwang Pottery / Facebook)
"Over coffee and local pastries, I'll share the history of my family, the kiln, how it functions and teach you the basic techniques of both hand-building and using a potter's wheel," host Stella said.
Meanwhile, One Kind House's experience will allow guests to learn to grow their own crops with urban farming technologies, forage baby kedondong leaves to pound into pesto and buck blue pea flowers to make uniquely different tea and rice. "Then we'll cook a three-course meal using family recipes and enjoy it together while sharing stories," it said in the press release.
Hand-pounding pesto will be part of One Kind House's Airbnb experience. (Photo: One Kind House / Facebook)
There are now more than 800 Experiences available in 14 cities around the world – including Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney – with more than 50 cities due to be live by the end of the year, according to Airbnb.
Another element of Trips is Places, which offers the recommendations of "Airbnb hosts, neighbourhood insiders and local influencers" to the platform to provide travellers with access to a city’s "hidden gems" and the chance to socialise with other guests and locals through meet up events. Places will go live in Singapore later this year, the company added.