A Backpacker “Time Share” Type Service

Resulting from not having a full time job and the fact I’ve been traveling for the last three months, I’m been brainstorming a number of business ideas related to traveling.

My latest business idea — a time share type service focused on backpackers (aka budget travelers). We all know timeshares are popular with the 35+ crowd, but why can’t the younger crowd have access to the same type of service? Of course, the accommodations wouldn’t be as nice since budget travelers are, how do you want to say it, on a budget. For example, in Chiang Mai where I’m living now — an apartment can be had for less than 5,000 Thai baht (about $170 US dollars) per month. I’m paying about $300 per month at Smith Residence, but there are certainly cheaper places to be had.

My room in Smith Residence in Chiang Mai

This idea actually originally started with the fact that I believe the world needs more “iHubs” and thinking through how to connect like minded travelers with each other to both collaborate further on business opportunities and build lasting friendships in the process. It came back to my mind, and evolved a bit, after speaking with Ian a couple weeks ago and he mentioned that he was thinking about just renting his place here for the long term and use it as a home base to travel around Southeast Asia. Leave all his stuff here in Chiang Mai so as to travel lighter to Burma, Laos, China, Malaysia, etc — and the holy grail being if he could rent it out to another traveler while he was gone on a long trip to recover some of the cost.

The service would be pretty simple. What’s Needed:

  • Rented rooms in cities across the globe
  • Booking system so that backpackers/nomads in the network can reserve a spot in the rooms
  • Bonus: amenities and goodies at some of the places. For instance, a motorcycle that could be used while in Chiang Mai would be awesome.

Revenue model:

  • Travelers would pay into the network on a monthly or yearly basis

Investment Needed:

  • Enough capital to rent rooms for 6 months in 8-10 cities – call it $20k (total guess)
  • Capital to build a great website that included a booking system and payment platform – call it $15k
  • Marketing – $3k

The location selections would be vital to making this a success. If it were up to me? The cities would include Chiang Mai, Santiago (never been), Rio (never been), Barcelona, Nairobi, Cape Town (never been), New York, San Francisco, New Orleans (never been), Santorini, Hanoi, Beijing (never been), and Istanbul (never been).

On a small scale, I wouldn’t be opposed to teaming with 4-6 other digital nomads and each “owning” a city — and coordinate some way to share a common calendar so as to determine who is planning to be where at what time. But that said, I truly believe this could be a real business for someone if done right.

The idea…is all yours. Make it happen, and you have your first paying customer already — provided the price and initial city selection are right.

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About Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon, a private couchsurfing app enabling you to stay with someone you trust on your next trip. He worked for Zillow.com from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder and managing editor of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. He is passionate about traveling..currently in Seattle.