Интервью с создателями сервиса Belodged.com
Как я уже подробно рассказывала, я открыла для себя несколько сервисов бесплатного поиска приюта в Европе и по всему миру, которые построены на принципе простого человеческого интереса и гостеприимства. Вы открываете свои двери для путешественников, прибывающих в ваш город, другие жители Европы открывают свои двери для вас.
Идея прекрасная. Для меня она прежде всего возможность внести свой вклад в противодействие обществу потребления, где главная ценность - материальные блага.
С другой стороны я нахожу крайне интересным увидеть за каждым таким сервисом живых людей, которые вкладывают в подобные интернет-проекты свое мировоззрение, время и энергию. Чтобы создать продукт, которым могут пользоваться для своего развития люди по всему миру.
Вот по этим двум причинам я решила связаться с разработчиками сервиса free accomodation worldwide Belodged.com и задать несколько вопросов.
Франк, один из идейных вдохновителей и главных движущих моторчиков проекта, любезно поддержал мою инициативу и ответил на мои вопросы.
Привожу их без перевода на английском для того, чтобы вы смогли потренировать свой иностранный язык здесь и сейчас. Перевод на русский помещу через в другой раз! Кстати, обратите особое внимание на вопрос номер 7 - там речь идет о том, как каждый из вас может внести свой посильный вклад в развитие движений бесплатного приюта для туристов.
1. In your opinion who would fit perfectly into the community?
Basically the community is open to ‘everybody’ as long as ‘everybody’ can host someone and offer free accommodation to other members. A sense of tolerance, curiosity and of course open mindedness is needed. One would say that only young people (students usually have plenty of time while being short of money fit very well into this ‘free lodging idea’ but in fact there are quite some senior people around loving to open their doors to other people from other countries and cultures, too.
2. What was your motivation to create a service that helps to find free accommodations?
- another way of travelling outside conventional tourism
- meeting up with great people anywhere in the world: having fun, discover a different culture, growing your international network, and getting a tremendous travel experience
- offer free accommodation worldwide also bring people together from different cultures and social classes, this can build intercultural understanding and reduce prejudices and intolerance
- could be staying for one or two nights in an area which is unfamiliar to me, with people who might be able to show me the ins and outs of the area...the must see places, perhaps recommend accommodations that are not exorbitantly priced
- it is always nice to have a "safe point" when you're in a new place
This service was already started in 1999 (under a different name and on a rather private level) before we decided to re-launch our ‘free lodging’ project past year – we thought the time had come !
3. What is the age range of the active participates? Is it possible for older people (i.e 40 + y.o.) to find suitable hosts?
- ad average age: we do not really know, because we care about user privacy and therefore do not ask for the age of our members. It is the decision of each member to give voluntarily his age while exchange of profile and accommodation information during ‘accommodation search process’. Members are even welcome to swap to their personal e-mail addresses or telephone numbers off the belodged.com platform, we do not care.
- ad senior people: of course! please see my answer to your first question above
4. Do you have an evaluation system or sharing experiences forum? Could this be it necessary and useful to help to avoid un-safe situation for other participants?
Not really. We have added a so called ‘guest book’ to everyone’s profile information. This is supposed to attest more credibility for someone who hosted already members. Usually we think to better call on everybody's comprehension skills and sense of responsibility in order to make the community operating properly, because we are convinced this would be more honest, straight and comprehensible for everyone. We assumed that 'simulating a sense of total security' would be the wrong way as in fact this 'sense of (fake) security' does not really exist...it's a sort of 'false promise', if you do understand what we want to express…
But: of course, we definitely take security matters very seriously!!!
Activities / functionality that is planned:
- member's profile have a direct link to the personal guest book (already implemented)
- blog authentication (already implemented)
- negative voting / rating feature as an instrument for mal-practise / abuse reporting
- recommendation respectively reference statement from other parties (a real person in real life; could be some kind of officials, doctors, employer etc.; everybody know someone in charge or social responsibility)
From a technical point of view we are one of the rare community portals using SSL encryption for login and the main profile information.
From our point of view every "security feature" we are offering may also have a negative impact. The user feels safer and safer and maybe is taking less care about his personal safety. All "features" can be avoided and even cheated if somebody really wants to (examples: "ebay stars", credit card, postal verification - everything can be defrauded if somebody wants to). So the community has to find its way concerning the "features" to be absolutely implemented or not…
5. Do you also travel using the information from your website? What places have you visited? Do you use it a lot?
Unfortunately I am not able to use it as often as I wish to, because we are very busy for the time being and have absolutely no time off ;-(
But of course, I am using it: On my way to Barcelone in Spain I met someone in Lyon / France where I stayed over night. And we host members from time to time (amongst others a Russian! girl from Berlin
6. How many people are working on the project development? How many volunteer helpers you have?
Currently we are 2 people working full time and a dozen more people when needed on projects. There are some freelancers as well…
7. What could Russian enthusiastic people who read project "V Europu" contribute to your community?
Ad hoc some ideas that come into my mind:
- active and vibrant participation in this ‘free lodging exchange’ idea
- offering their holiday homes, apartments, villas, chalets, cottages, fincas, bungalows, mountain huts, houseboat, tree-houses or igloos…
- maybe helping us translating the website into Russian language
- giving ideas what could be improved etc.
8. What does “belodged" mean and how have you chosen the name?
Everybody knows what the English word ‘lodge’ means. So it comes from ‘to be lodged’ = be welcome, be hosted, be my guest, be lodged
Quite simple, isn’t it? belodged.com - no more hotel rip-off, get accommodation for free!