The sharing economy is described, according to a recent report, as mainly an urban phenomenon. The report suggests the term “sharing economy” was first seen in the mid 2000s and was also referred to as collaborative consumption, or the peer-to-peer economy. Think of it as a joining of consumers and producers through lending, exchange and bartering and now, thanks to advancement in technology- the sharing economy is not just an intimate urban phenomenon, but a globalization wonder of the 21st century which allows this traditional thrift-led behavior, as the reports called it, to operate at scale and across geographic boundaries. With everything from travel accommodation markets like ‘airbnb’ to sharing transportation like ‘Uber’, the sharing economy is expanding, allowing for consumers to offer up their under-utilized resources such as a spare room, car or skill set in order to off-set costs.
A new and intriguing sharing economy platform called “MAGPIE” has emerged in the peer-to-peer travel accommodation market which should excite mostly female travelers; the peer-to-peer accommodation generally involves the renting of both properties and rooms across the globe. The process of booking takes place online at virtual marketplaces, which connects people who have a space to share (hosts) with those who are looking for a place to stay (guests). With travelling being a way to connect with the global world, accommodation is one of the major concerns people have, especially when venturing to a new location, which is why the sharing economy has been really popular in terms of accommodation, especially for female travelers. MAGPIE sets itself apart by offering their private membership to exclusively female travelers and taking it up a notch- allowing them to secure accommodation for FREE during their travel.
In this special report that explores the sharing economy and travel, I chat with the CEO of Magpie- Huong Tran, to brief us more about how MAGPIE works and how female travelers can take advantage of the membership platform.
According to Rachel Botsman, co-author of What’s Mine is Yours: the Rise of Collaborative Consumption (2010), three main benefits drive the sharing economy: economic, environmental, and community benefits-and Magpie proves to serve that purpose, allowing for travelers to use their financial resources more efficiently and resiliently by permitting sustainable use of natural resources while creating room for deeper social and personal connection…
10 QUESTIONS WITH HUONG TRAN- CEO OF MAGPIE:
1.How would you describe what Magpie is all about? Magpie is the world’s first private membership club for female travelers. Sign up, search profiles, meet hosts, and stay with them for free.
2. What was the gap that made you create magpie? What need were you trying to fill? As women who have traveled broadly we saw the need for a female-specific site where women could meet their unique needs of connecting with like-minded people, saving money on accommodations, and traveling with a renewed sense of safety.
3. How can users best make use of the platform? We encourage members to search first, by location, then explore a few host profiles in the cities they’re interested in traveling to. That way, members can see differences in personalities, offerings, locations, etc. Doing so often helps travelers clarify exactly what kind of environment(s) and host(s) they’d be happiest sharing time & space with. Once you’ve settled on a good option(s), write a clear & engaging intro message to your host. Tell her why you’re interested in traveling to her city, what sorts of things you enjoy doing with your time, and what your travel-style is. Feel free to include any questions you have about your host, her home, where you’ll be staying, and be sure to tell her what dates you’re considering! Approach this like the beginning of a friendship–have fun with it!
4. How would you compare Magpie to other travel hosting sites like perhaps Airbnb? While Airbnb has made great strides in the sharing economy travel space, more than 70% of its listings are managed by professional property managers, which often means an impersonal experience and and a lack of real-life interactions with your hosts. Magpie strives to create a space that is pre-vetted (women only), offers hosted accommodations with like-minded travelers, offers the benefit of growing a network of friends-you-wish-you-had all over the world, and removes the barrier of cost from the equation entirely. When you get to your destination, you stay for free, offering shared experiences (dinner, a show, a hike), rather than money, to your host.
5. What has the feedback been like and what current locations are available for hosting? So far, the feedback from hosts and travelers, alike, has been resoundingly positive. Both parties are engaged in the exchange, excited about meeting a new friend, and stoked to explore a place as either first-time-traveler, or tourist-in-my-own-town. The cities with the largest number of hosts on Magpie currently, are: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hanoi, Saigon and growing quickly.
6. What are some features in place to ensure trust and safety; minimize risk of staying with someone you don’t know? How can users be rest assured of a peaceful stay? Magpie is dedicated to creating a safe, secure, and friendly environment for all members. We do verification checks through Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Phone ID, Physical Address, and have space for reviews/feedback on the site. We are exploring additional verification methods as well and plan to roll those out in the future. Additionally, we have a dedicated concierge team standing by to support Magpie Members while they travel.
7. Can you paint a picture of what a user can experience from being a host or a guest? Magpie operates as an exchange platform: the exchange of hosted accommodations for shared experiences or gifts, rather than money. As a host, plan on offering accommodations to your guests, and then creating time for a shared experience. Hosts appreciate thoughtful gestures that help them learn more about the travelers they host. As a traveler, come prepared to share an interest, hobby, or talent: If a traveler loves food, cook a meal for your host, share a favorite recipe, or take them out to a local restaurant you’ve researched in their neighborhood. If a traveler is crafty, bring something made to share. If music, art, film, or theater is your thing, share an art piece, rent a favorite movie, make a playlist for your host, or get an extra ticket to an event you’re attending in your host’s city. If you & your host both love sports, consider attending a game together, or going on a hike, or bringing a cool souvenir from your favorite team. Use your imagination! Trust your intuition!
8. What is the future of Magpie looking like? Our goal is to be the #1 choice for women travelers all over the globe. Currently Magpie is in a growth stage & is dedicating to expanding into new cities monthly as we grow membership and hosts. If there are cities you’d like to see, drop us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and nominate your favorite travel destinations. If you’d like to become a host, adding your city to our list of destinations, visit our website and use the promo code: MAGPIEHOST to get your membership for free when you sign up as a host. Also we have a special holiday promo code for UYDERS; you can apply this code at checkout MAGPIEUYD and enjoy a 50% discount of the annual membership (regular $99.00 USD)
9. What special tips or advice do you have for female travelers to ensure a meaningful, safe and fun travel experience? Travel with an open heart, and open eyes. Plan a little, explore a lot–there is beauty in the unexpected. Be sure you know where you are and how to get home, at all times (keep a secret stash of transportation $ in a safe place). Be open to making new friends along the way. Always find the green space on the map and go there (parks, mountain tops, hillsides). Find your way to neighborhoods away from tourist districts (if it’s safe to do so) and enjoy authentic cuisine, engaged conversation, and camaraderie with locals. Ask shopkeepers, servers, and others what their favorite places to visit are; you’re destined to find some gems! Most of all, have fun, believe in yourself, and stay forever open to learning.
10. What does the ART OF BEING ALIVE mean to you? Take risks, follow your intuition, believe in yourself, try something new at every opportunity, and surround yourself with people you believe-in, admire, respect, and are challenged by.