Home swapping as a way to celebrate your summer weeks has been done for many years. Lately this type of vacation has become popular with the crowd. With an increased interest new initiatives arise, just as Behomm. Agusti Juste and Eva Calduch started Behomm a year ago out of dissatisfaction about the traditional home swapping websites. “You spend too much time scanning all the houses and rejecting people that have a completely different lifestyle and home” they said. As graphical designers they wondered why not to set up their own home swapping community JUST for creative people: Behomm was born!
The first 300 members consisted of friends and family of Augusti and Eva who received a lifelong membership in exchange for sending out invitations to their friends. As said only creative people are eligible to receive an invitation, for that reason the website holds a ‘professions list’ that indicates what is understood by this term. All sorts of designers to art museum managers to make up artists are welcome. Only an invitation will lead to access to the website which makes Behomm a private online community. To go even further, Augusti and Eva (try to) meet all new members; having a coffee or diner with potential members, everything to be sure that they fit the community. You can say that Behomm has already become a success. Within a year it reached 702 members in Europe and the Americas.
With the dissatisfaction that Augusti and Eva had, it makes sense that they set up a like-minded private community but the set up does show some weaknesses. Firstly some aspects of Behomm do not facilitate interaction. Besides the platform for swapping houses, Behomm also contains a blog. This blog is only used by Augusti and Eva to tell and promote their favorite books, movies, performances, and shops. There is no interaction between members on the blog, which makes it a one-way communication channel for the owner’s self-serving.
Secondly Behomm does not hold much content that will make members keep coming back daily. Promoting the community and maintaining its infrastructure requires that members take time from other activities, in other words: keep participating. Key ingredients that will keep users participation are found by Toral (2009) to be perceived usefulness, commitment, trust, and network cohesion. Behomm scores relatively good on these factors but it lacks enough features to keep members engaged. Besides searching for a suitable house and the blog Behomm houses no other features. One way to overcome this problem is by keep expanding. As found by Casaló (2013) new member integration assure community’s long-term survival. New members will create new input and will attract existing members to the website to check new houses. The problem with this approach is that when expansion stabilizes the problem with holding participation-rates reoccurs.
Behomm: a great concept that has potential but probably has to evolve to become a sustainable community.
- L.V. Casal, C.Flavián, & M. Guinalíu (2013). New members’ integration: Key factor of success in online travel communities. Journal of Business Research 66: 706-710.
- S.L. Toral et al. (2009). An empirical study of the driving forces behind online communities. Internet Research 19 (4): 378-392.