Trusted Housesitters

by Lucy on February 3, 2014

Trusted Housesitters helps home and pet owners find trusted sitters to care for their home and pets while away. It’s a win-win situation for both the home owner, whose home and pet are well taken care of, and for the housesitter who has a great place to stay.

Another great platform for peer to peer interactions, building trust between strangers and building an online reputation.

Check it out and try it out! If you’re going on vacation, it could be an alternative to hotels or even airbnb!

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According to the U.S. Travel Association, travelers spent approximately $158.4 billion on traditional lodging last year. If those travelers had instead spent their lodging dollars for a nontraditional room — say from CouchSurfer or Airbnb — they could have saved a substantial amount of money. How much? A study conducted by Priceonomics showed that travelers saved almost 50 percent a night by booking a room through AirBnB versus staying in a traditional hotel.

Saving money isn’t the only reason why travelers have been turning to these Internet sites that connect travelers with homeowners who want to rent out rooms or other spaces in their residences. Many people seek these types of rentals because they prefer the intimate, more personal feeling that they get from staying in a local person’s home rather than spending the night in a bland hotel room.

The New Lodging Choices

Today, the Internet allows just about any homeowner the ability to become a landlord or bed and breakfast proprietor. While the concept of couchsurfing or home exchanges is relatively new, it’s becoming an increasingly popular trend. In fact, even upscale travel site Conde Nast Traveler — which traditionally showcases five-star, astronomically priced hotels — recently ran a favorable piece about Airbnb and CouchSurfer. If you haven’t heard about some of these sites, you may be wondering what they offer and how they work.

Airbnb

This site allows homeowners to rent out a room or their entire house to paying guests. The Airbnb host may be present in the home during your stay, or may not be present at all.

CouchSurfer

With CouchSurfer, it is expected that the homeowner will be around during the guest’s stay. Although, the experience varies from house to house, some homeowners will invite the couchsurfer to eat with them or even show them around. At the very least, most will be happy to give recommendations on things to do and places to see to their couchsurfing guests.

HomeExchange

HomeExchange is a site that allows homeowners to swap their homes on a short-term basis with other registered users. Say you want to go to Paris. Through HomeExchange, you would look for a homeowner in Paris who would be interested in taking your home so that you could stay in his home. While no money changes hands between the homeowners, HomeExchange does charge a membership fee.

VRBO

The properties on VRBO are rental units listed by their owners. Because this site is one of the biggest of its kind, you’ll find over 540,000 rentals available on VRBO.

Cautionary Tales

As with anything to do with the Internet, be cautious and do your due diligence before committing to a room or a couch. Always check references and call phone numbers to speak to the owners of properties you may be interested in renting. In addition, you should talk to a company regarding identity theft protection, just in case you lose your wallet or documents, or have them stolen while on your travels, especially if you are planning on going on a long trip and hitting a number of different couches.

Avoid sending money by wire transfer if at all possible. Travel expert Christopher Elliott has written several articles about unfortunate souls who have been bilked out of thousands of dollars by online thieves. In many of these cases, the scam artists had hijacked the email accounts of the actual owners of VRBO properties. Unwitting potential renters would then end up contacting and paying the thief instead of the actual home owner.

However, with a little bit of knowledge and a great sense of adventure, home exchange and couch surfing can be great additions to your next vacation. So start planning your next trip, and begin brainstorming what you’ll do with the money you save!

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Guest post from Paige Callahan

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The Importance of Public Services

by Lucy on November 4, 2013

developedcountry

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Sharing in Toronto

by Lucy on August 5, 2013

After being inspired by a post on Shareable on how to map the new economy in your city, we created our own Google map of all the sharing organizations and businesses in our home town of Toronto.

Take a look at our Toronto Sharing Map and let us know if we’ve missed anything!

Toronto sharing map

 

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In our previous post “3 key success factors for a successful sharing platform,” we received a comment asking for top tips on building a platform that feels more like a community than a marketplace. While many sharing platforms are inherently doing so by connecting producers with users (ex. Etsy), we’ve come up with 6 great ways to enhance your sharing community:

  1. Have user profiles. A community is made of people, so anonymity really doesn’t help. With P2P platforms this is essential in order for people to connect and build trust. For non P2P platforms, user profiles may not be required but still highly recommended. Kiva (microloans) is a great example of this as their users do not lend or borrow money from each other, but form lending groups and interact with other users.
  2. Present a set of values. A community is based on a set of values, and writing them out helps people align with them. They also give potential users a way to “feel out” your culture. Providing yours as an image makes it much easier for people to share (just check out our manifesto!) The Centre for Social Innovation (coworking space) has a clear mission and strong set of values, which are consistent throughout their website and physical locations, giving members a sense of belonging.
  3. Communicate with users. This includes responding to blog comments, tweets and emails in a personable and helpful way. While this definitely requires a bit more effort, these actions make your users feel appreciated. People enjoy real interactions over automated responses, which can be all too common. Mealsharing (meals with strangers) does a great job at this. As soon as you create a profile, someone from their team greets you and welcomes you to the community.
  4. Maintain social media presence. Social media is a great vehicle for user interactions, feedback and community/culture reinforcement. Regularly updating a blog, Facebook and Twitter also keeps your current and potential users in the know with what’s going on. Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and other outlets could be valuable as well, depending on your platform. Shareable (sharing economy publication/blog) has an incredible social media presence, not only do they post frequently, they also keep their users engaged and involved in the conversation.
  5. Organize offline meetups. This allows users to put a face to your platform, to meet others with similar interests and views. A meetup really helps solidify relationships. Be Social Change in New York (empowering social entrepreneurs) holds weekly meetups and lots of great events that are 100% enhancing their community.
  6. Invite users to be ambassadors. If you have users who love your platform and rave about it, give them an opportunity to be more involved. These ambassadors are great for word of mouth marketing, which is must more effective at reaching new users. Yerdle (p2p sharing) has “Pollinators” who help spread the word and so far this has been working great for them.

Let us know if you have more examples or more tips!
community

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Shareable Cities

by Lucy on June 6, 2013

In the post of our recap of OuiShare Fest, we touched on the subject of shareable cities, essentially reinventing public services to be more collaborative, build resilience and create stronger, more connected cities. This video by Nesta, an organization based in the UK focused on social innovation, gives a nice overview of this concept.

 

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