Airbnb is giving homeowners $100,000 to build wacky rentals

OMG Fund.
OMG Fund.
Image: Airbnb
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Imagine sleeping in a spaceship. Or working remotely from a giant potato spud.

Airbnb announced today a new global competition that would allow more guests to pursue such wacky experiences. The 13-year-old vacation rental platform will award $100,000 to 100 imaginative Airbnb hosts with quirky architecture concepts.

While weird ideas are prized, the competition’s judges will also evaluate each applicant’s engineering plans, and will require proof that the rental can be completed within nine months. They’ll also look for sustainable design elements and interiors that are as comfortable and unique as the exterior. Anyone living in a region where Airbnb operates has until July 22 to apply to the so-called “OMG Fund.”

Airbnb says its $10 million initiative is a response to travelers’ cravings for unique destination rentals. During a time when Instagrammable experiences are prized, the company found that jaw-dropping rentals tend to generate the most interest—and the most income for hosts. A listing under what Airbnb calls the “OMG category” generated an average of $48,000 within a span of five years.

Big Idaho Potato Hotel - Idaho USA
Big Idaho Potato Hotel: Prop spud turn sleeping quarters.
Image: Airbnb
The Boot - New Zealand
The Boot in New Zealand.
Image: Airbnb

The OMG Fund is only the latest milestone in Airbnb’s history of promoting unique rentals. In 2017, the company funded the construction of a stunning all-cedar A-Frame house to highlight Japan’s beleaguered rural cities. It also helped revitalize a 13th-century Italian ruin, and helped make it a design destination.