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ComospolitHome.com: "A more legal night swapping option than Airbnb and more structured than CouchSurfing."

Interview with Serge Duriavig, President and Founder of the company


Rédigé par Written by Pierre Coronas translated by Joséphine FOUCHER le Vendredi 28 Février 2014

Founded in December 2012, but launched a year later, CosmopolitHome.com is a website that develops the concept of "Night Swapping". He modernized the home exchange idea by removing the reciprocity aspect and declares his idea as more legal than Airbnb "because its members never exchange money.” Serge Duriavig, its founder, uncovers it all.



CosmopolitHome.com is a French company that develops the concept of NightSwapping - Screenshot
CosmopolitHome.com is a French company that develops the concept of NightSwapping - Screenshot
TourMaG.com - CosmopolitHome.com is based on Night Swapping. What is this concept?

Serge Duriavig: We have created a virtual currency - the “Night"- which allows free housing through the exchange of one's housing.

When I host a site member in my house, for 3 nights, for example, I gain 3 "Nights" that I can then use to be hosted by another member.

Originally, we were inspired by the concept of home exchange to remove the constraint of reciprocity, we decided to create this virtual currency. It allows everyone to go where they want.

When experimenting with home exchanges, I realized that living in Nîmes and wanting to go to New York, I could not find New Yorkers who wanted to come to Nîmes.

Each unit listed on the site is ranked from 1 to 7 based on its standing. When you win "Nights " they are ranked based on their level of luxury on that 1 to 7 scale and are then convertible. A "Night" with a 7 ranking converts to 7 "Nights" with a 1 standing.

TourMaG.com - In your press release, you present your service as “more legal than Airbnb and more comfortable than CouchSurfing…”

SD: "Yes In fact, we are different from Airbnb because we do not offer rental and have banned the exchange of money between members, but we work in the same mindset: accommodation services between individuals through a collaborative economy, a concept that is literally exploding today.

With us, there is no exchange of money between member so no problems in terms of legality. Whether rental, legal or fiscal.

As for CouchSurfing, we are a little on the same principle. But instead of saying "more comfortable,” I think we could also say "more structured." Because through CouchSurfing, people receive housing, which is great, but unfortunately abuses sometimes arise.

Some people will host over 10 times while others never. And as for safety, it is sometimes not very monitored.

Moreover, in terms of comfort, we require our members to provide at least one separate bedroom. Not necessarily with a bathroom. But in any case not a bed in the living room, an air mattress or a tent..."

TourMaG.com - Nevertheless, it is possible for your members to face some problems such property damage or last minute cancellation. What do you expect in these cases?

SD: "Zero risk does not actually exist. The idea then is to set up ways to avoid these risks from materializing.

For this, we have a section about cancellation insurance and civil liability. They help protect potential problems that members could encounter.

In addition, we have an on site team in charge of monitoring: it aims to moderate and validate all ads. We do not publish a house offer without photos for example. They are all verified.

We also implemented a SMS verification system. And, in my opinion, the most effective control is the evaluation among members through feedback.

Currently, we are also setting up a program of "City Ambassadors." These are members who believe in the concept and go on volunteer missions to photograph homes, recruit or certify members."

"Creating a French company that is able to compete with major international players."

Serge Duriavig is the Founding President - Photo DR
Serge Duriavig is the Founding President - Photo DR
TourMaG.com – Tell us now about your business model. How are you compensated? Does it cost members to advertise their home?

SD: "The system is completely free, without obligation or subscription.

We only charge a commission of €9.90 when a traveler stays with a host. Whatever the length of stay."

TourMaG.com - Who pays?

SD: It is the traveler. In our opinion, the host is the person that we really need to tend to.

We strive to set up the best possible conditions for the host in order to prevent as many constraints.

TourMaG.com - ComospolitHome.com celebrates its one year anniversary. How was this first year?

SD: It mainly consisted of creating the site itself which was set up in December 2012 and then launching it progressively as new versions were updated.

Initially, we communicated rather informally by trying to create a community, which then evolved to promoting ourselves more officially as we now do.

Since December 2013, the site in on par with our true ambitions. That is why we now communicate more strongly. We want to make it big: the site is present in 54 countries, translated into 7 languages and already counts 6,000 members.

The idea is to exceed the 1 million ads in the next 3 or 4 years."

TourMaG.com - Have you set goals for the second year?

SD: "Yes, we have a Business Plan. But they are figures.

For us, our main interest is making sure that people who are part of the community are satisfied with the platform.

That is why, for now, I prefer having fewer ads but of better quality and certification. On the Internet, when a service is poor, it gets known very quickly. And I do not want that to happen to us.

I also aim to expand my circle of collaborators. With the idea of opening local antennas within 2 or 3 years in 300 or 400 of the largest cities in the world.

The objective would be to create reference points for our members, offer concierge services, customer service, photography, visits...

But besides our strong commercial ambitions, I want to emphasize that before that we carry human and intellectual values. For me, regardless of the number of members and revenue, it is important to offer a more enjoyable platform for our members and pleasant work conditions for our employees.

The idea, ultimately, is to create associations and redistribute the income as much as possible. I have no intention at all to enrich myself and go to a tax haven.

Our project was selected to go to Silicon Valley, but I refused. The idea is to create a French company that can compete with the big international players."

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