Be­friend the Trend:

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - IN THE SAME Blair Burmeis­ter

way that Airbnb solved the prob­lem of find­ing a place to stay that isn’t an ex­or­bi­tantly priced ho­tel, canine canin host­ing site Dog­Va­cay.com – dubbed ‘the Airbnb Airb for pets’ – re­lies on a sim­i­lar busi­ness model an and con­nects va­ca­tion­ing an­i­mal own­ers with safe and a af­ford­able lo­cal sit­ters look­ing to make some spare cash.

The Los An­ge­les-based Ang start-up, which launched in March 2012 and now has 42 full-time staff, has proved s so pop­u­lar that it re­cently raised a de­cent $15m from fro in­vestors to help ex­pand and en­hance the com­pany’s comp cur­rent of­fer­ings. Ac­cord­ing to ABC News News, in­vestors as­so­ci­ated the busi­ness’s ap­proach w with other online pioneers that were de­sig de­signed around shar­ing economies, like eBay. How does doe it work? The site, which so far has abou about 10 000 hosts across the US and Canada, Cana al­lows any­one who wants to host dogs do in their home to ap­ply for a list­ing on t the site. Dog­Va­cay takes a ser­vice fee from fro hosts, which typ­i­cally ranges from 5%-10% 5% of the book­ing fee and charges $1 per dog per day for all book­ings ma made through the site.

Hosts are checked out and in­ter­viewed by Dog­Va­cay and like Airbnb, the hosts are re­viewed rev by an­i­mal own­ers who have trusted them with their pets in the past.

Rates start at $ $25 per night (de­pend­ing on the lo­ca­tion and the ex­tent e of ser­vices of­fered dur­ing the dog’s stay) an and all reser­va­tions in­clude free pet insurance, 24/ 24/7 cus­tomer sup­port, daily photo up­dates and a 100% money-back guar­an­tee. Why host? host Whether you’re a pro­fes­sional dog si sit­ter or just a reg­u­lar dog-lover, Dog­Va­cay Dog makes it easy to earn money, mo on an in­for­mal ba­sis, in the th com­fort of your own home. Av­er­age A monthly earn­ings could amount a to $500 and above – de­pend­ing de on how pop­u­lar you be­come bec as a host. And forf dog own­ers, the ser­vice of­fers a via vi­able al­ter­na­tive to ken­nels. If With mil­lions of dogs in SA, there is an op­por­tu­nity for a plat­form that helps peo­ple take care of them. “It may be a lit­tle slow to catch on in the be­gin­ning, but there is def­i­nitely a need for it,” says Wes­ley Lynch, CEO of Realmdig­i­tal. “If users trust the ser­vice, and have full con­fi­dence in the safety of their pets, there is def­i­nitely room for growth here.”

Trust is one of the largest fac­tors that con­cern peo­ple when us­ing shar­ing econ­omy ser­vices such as Airbnb and Dog­Va­cay. Sim­i­larly to Airbnb with its home own­ers and oc­cu­pants, the key to Dog­Va­cay’s suc­cess is to have pet own­ers place their trust in sit­ters.

Says Lynch: “Se­cu­rity is the pri­mary con­cern when a ser­vice such as this is of­fered. The user must feel 100% safe about leav­ing their pet with some­one else. Hav­ing the ser­vice ap­proved by the SPCA, for ex­am­ple, may give it some clout and fur­ther proof of its rep­utabil­ity.

“There needs to be an es­tab­lished bond and sense of se­cu­rity. The ser­vice would need to ver­ify all pet sit­ters and clear mul­ti­ple se­cu­rity checks as part of the ap­pli­ca­tion process.”

For a while, there were no es­tab­lished busi­ness mod­els on the In­ter­net – it was be­lieved to be a state of flux with­out strict busi­ness rules. Now, busi­ness mod­els have been cre­ated specif­i­cally for online and es­tab­lished brands have ex­tended their busi­ness model to in­cor­po­rate dig­i­tal plat­forms.

The user-to-user online com­mu­nity busi­ness model, which plat­forms such as Airbnb and Dog­Va­cay are com­mon ex­am­ples of, has ex­ploded in­ter­na­tion­ally as tech­nol­ogy makes it eas­ier for peo­ple to rent items to each other. The suc­cess of this model is based on build­ing strong com­mu­ni­ties and de­vel­op­ing a sense of trust within them.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Lynch, the user-to-user busi­ness model is tak­ing off in SA as well. “Take, for ex­am­ple, sites such as Gumtree and Bi­dor­buy where the mar­ket­place plat­form is pro­vided and the ac­tual sale then rests with the users. I be­lieve that many peo­ple are still wary with re­gard to this and ex­ert cau­tion, but hav­ing said that, many peo­ple were wary about e-com­merce and it has grown sub­stan­tially in SA over the last few years.”

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