Airbnb offering cash prizes for crazy ideas, unique designs, experiences

The yellow submarine
Ideas will be judged for their originality, feasibility, experience and sustainability. Photo credit: Supplied

Airbnb is offering 100 people US$100,000 (NZ$159,000) each to create crazy experiences for the company's new OMG! category.

Last month the home-stay giant unveiled a range of new functionalities, including categories. It illustrated the OMG! Category with a Kiwi example - the yellow submarine house in woods in Marton.

Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb's AU, NZ & Oceania country director, told Newshub at the time that Airbnb was "really committed to finding and nurturing what we call these OMG! Places".

Now the company is putting its money where its mouth is with the US$10 million fund to help finance 100 out-of-this-world ideas, like the yellow submarine.

"Whether it's the next boot, UFO house or treehouse, the first-of-its-size OMG! Fund is seeking ideas from existing and aspiring designers, architects, DIYers and makers from around the globe," the company said. 

According to the company, the yellow submarine house cost just US$14,000 to create and has earned the owners US$69,000 since 2018.

They did so by incorporating materials such as recycled radar dishes and helmets into an old grain silo they bought for just $1. They then spent the next year converting and furnishing their yellow retreat to help them live during their retirement.

The fund's $10 million will help finance the craziest ideas with the opportunity to turn them into actual Airbnb OMG! Category listings, the company's most unique homes. 

Ideas will be judged by an expert panel for their originality, feasibility, the experience the space will provide guests, and sustainability. 

That includes style icon Iris Apfel, Koichi Takada, founder of Sydney-based global firm Koichi Takada Architects known for emotive designs inspired by the natural world and Disney alum Bruce Vaughn.

The OMG! Fund is open now and will close on July 23 at 3:59pm in Aotearoa.

"The 100 fund recipients will be selected by the panel over the coming months, with the intent of having their newly-constructed spaces complete next year," the company said.

Airbnb is popular in New Zealand and competes with the likes of, the hotel and flights booking website, and Bookabach to entice Kiwi travellers.

According to the company, hosting on Airbnb provides benefits to both hosts and communities.

In 2021, the typical Host in New Zealand earned over NZD $6,100, the company said.

Additionally, nights booked at unique properties increased globally by over 49 percent from 2019 to 2021.

Otago-based unique stay host, Emma Tyler, says listing her Kiwi Chalet in Lake Hayes allowed her to share the beautiful rural lifestyle she experiences with her family, with local and international travellers.

"I listed my place on Airbnb because I wanted to give guests a chance to escape the day to day and immerse themselves in a uniquely Kiwi experience," she said.

"From the breathtaking surrounding natural landscapes, fresh air and open outdoor spaces, all easily enjoyed from our architecturally designed chalet - I like to think I offer guests a glimpse of what my family loves about the lifestyle here."