Staying with locals: the update
comment 1 Written by on January 24, 2011 – 1:41 am

Here’s an update stay with the locals schemes that I wrote for yesterday’s Guardian travel section.  The aim of the piece was to look at what was new in the field and how the site’s are developing.

It ran alongside a piece about an interesting, new homestay project in India and an account by one of the founders of Couchsurfing.com about his travels in Sicily.

Another standout site I wanted to mention, but space was tight was The Hotel Exchange (the-hotel-exchange.com), which allows hotel and B&B owners “ to use their businesses to travel the world for free” . The network was set up by B& B owner Rachel Seed, having recognised that the hard-working people behind the hospitality industry need a break too and they yet often deny themselves because of expense. The idea behind the site is that – after paying an annual registration fee of £79 – members can exchange free stays are their respective properties. Seed offers stays in her own “ boutique B& B” in a medieval town on Spain’ s southern coast.

Setting up a travel network is a huge commitment, and it is interesting to see which sites fall by the wayside. Various sites that I have written about before are no more, including Stay Don’t Pay, which seemed like a lovely network mainly made up of retirees offering their homes as B&Bs, and gay couchsurfing site, Surfing Sofa. Sadly, Sweden-based tent-surfing site also seems to be down.

But at the same time there are a lot of great innovative new players too, or old sites that are keeping their game up. I’ve picked out Tripping, MyFriendsHotel, AirBnB and BetterThanTheVan as sites that will be moving forward in 2011.

Social networking is a field that is evolving so fast that you can’t afford not to innovate. People have higher expectations of the networks they use these days.

Take a look at poor Hospitality Club. It’s home page centres around ‘news updates’ from 2007/8. It’s future isn’t looking bright.

I don’t think it’s all about funds, but commitment and technical ambition are essential.

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One Response to “Staying with locals: the update”

  1. I’ve recently recently a post about my experience with Airbnb while I was in New York. I had a great time, everything went smoothly and my hosts were kind and helpful! I strongly recommend it.
    I’m even considering posting an apartment of mine, too!

    In case you want to check: http://100mileshighway.blogspot.com/2011/01/east-village-my-first-airbnb-experience.html

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