When writer Stephanie Hunt met up with Tia Clark this fall, Clark told her that being on the water with a net and raw bait was her “happy place.” Turns out that Casual Crabbing with Tia, Clark’s crabbing tutorial booked through Airbnb, is a lot of people’s happy place. So many, in fact, that out of all of the Airbnb Experiences available, Clark’s five-star, 2.5 hour crabbing primer is one of the top four rated. In the world. [content-1] Last week, Airbnb flew Clark out to their San Francisco headquarters to be honored as an exceptional host. “It was wild and crazy,” laughs Clark.
Airbnb Experiences, activities that Airbnb urges visitors (or staycationers) to refer to for unique local excursions, have been around for a couple of years, but only landed in Charleston this year. Airbnb figured out who the top hosts were based on reviews and the “climb” of the Experience on the platform.
[image-2]”I felt overwhelmed because I was like ‘why do they want me?’ I was having self doubt and then I was even more so after I found out who they [the other honorees] were,” says Clark.
The other exceptional hosts rounding out the top four were from Japan, Italy, and South Africa. Miwako Hayashi teaches guests how to make handmade washi paper that they then use for postcards; Pietro Visconti teaches people how to make pasta with his mother in Milan; and conservationist Jon hosts a social impact experience with outdoor activities (walking, kayaking, etc.) that allows them to glimpse the endangered African Penguin — with all money going to nonprofit AfriOceans Conservation Alliance.
In the past five months, Clark has made quite an impression on some of her guests.
Clark told Hunt in October that she had a client who told her, “‘this was the best day of my vacation. And one of the best days of my life,’ and then she proceeded to tell me she had terminal cancer.” Other reviewers have said that Crabbing with Tia is the off-the-beaten-path Charleston venture worth signing up for. [content-2] One reviewer named Rhonda says, “If I could give this Experience 10 stars, I would. Tia is engaging, explains exactly what needs to be done, then let’s you get as hands on as you would like … this was the best experience of the trip.” Reviewer Daria says, “skip the ghost tours, folks … crab fishing with Tia was amazing!”
While Clark is beyond thrilled with these tourists and their enthusiasm, she says her hope (especially after this cross-country trip) is that more locals will join her on the water.
“When I travel, I want to go where the locals go,” says Clark, who grew up on Romney Street.
“When I was in San Francisco I told people there about other local Charleston Experiences.” On a recent Lowcountry excursion, Clark says she taught a local mother and her 10-year-old daughter (not your average pre-teen, mind you — for her birthday she asked for a beach-cleaning trip because she had just learned about global warming in school) how to throw the cast net. “That was a Saturday, and she said ‘oh I wish my best friend could do this.’ The next day the mom took out both girls and the 10-year-old taught her best friend how to throw the net,” says Clark. The girls caught 80 shrimp that day — “they fed the family for a week.”
Clark hopes more and more people (especially locals) will take advantage of her Experience, a thought she did not entertain a few months ago. “I wasn’t sure about the platform at first, about taking people out.”
A food and bev industry vet for 17 years, Clark was rightfully skeptical about dealing with humanity in a foreign environment for hours at a time. But even after her first trip out with strangers, Clark says that her preconceived notions were entirely flipped. “It shut down everything that I made up in my mind. I haven’t dealt with any issues, no disgruntled people. If you’d asked me two years if I would be doing this, I would’ve said, ‘you’re crazy.'”
Find out more about Crabbing with Tia at casualcrabbingwithtia.com.