There have been many attempts at hospitality networks, most of which have ended up losing steam for a variety of reasons. What’s our approach? Why do we think it will work, while previous attempts failed?
A few reasons…
Mobile. The world has changed since the last real attempt at a hospitality exchange network (Tripping in 2009); mobile dominates. None of the existing hospitality exchange networks have a consumer friendly mobile offering, aside from Couchsurfing (and even that is bloated). There has not been a hospitality exchange platform built specifically for the mobile world we live in today.
Single User Utility. In prior hospitality networks, there was zero single user utility if it had no members in the specific city someone was searching for. Everyone has a mini hospitality network – their friends and family, and friends of friends. Locating existing friends & family, and friends of friends unlocks some value to everyone in a travel scenario (either researching ahead of time or local connections in destination).
Built upon existing communities. Trusted reputations, brands, and communities take years and years to build. The world doesn’t actually need more trust networks and reputation systems to increase overall trust; the ones already in place need to be better utilized. Horizon facilitates existing trust, rather than create it from scratch. Of course, “trusted” means something different to everyone. We’re enabling you to define what trusted means to you, by selecting the people and communities you trust. Some of these communities, such as Couchsurfing and BeWelcome (get group unlock codes here), were specifically setup as hospitality exchange networks. Others, are simply communities where hospitality exchange happens to occur between members from time to time (such as Sigma Phi Epsilon & Kiva Fellows).
Consumer comfortability to strangers. People are slowly becoming more comfortable with connecting with strangers. Couchsurfing proved there is a large segment willing to accommodate total strangers with zero monetary gain, and AirBnB proved that population increases when you add financial incentives into the mix. We believe the population willing to provide accommodation can be increased by giving them control over who they field requests from, and adding a charitable giving incentive to the equation.
Technology / Monetary Transactions. One of the major challenges hospitality networks have faced is technology. They’ve all relied on volunteers building their own web technology - with no money changing hands, no resources exist to invest in a consumer friendly mobile or web experience consumers will actually use. Another challenge is signal to noise with fielding and sending requests for accommodation. Adding a financial transaction to bookings addresses both of these, as it both enables money to be invested into technology and reduces the number of people who waste hosts’ time with inquiries that are not serious in nature.
Operated as a Business. Horizon is not a charity. This is a business (with a deep social mission), aiming to shift some of the massive amounts of money spent on hospitality to amazing causes such as Kiva and Peace Corps – and enabling travel opportunities, cultural exchange, community, and friendships in the process.
Interested in being one of our first beta testers, or Horizon powering hospitality exchange for a specific community you are involved with?