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Welcome to Episode 4 of The Room Xchange – Partner with us.
The sharing economy has been taken to an exciting new level connecting people who want more out of life with the resources that already exist. The Room Xchange is tackling the challenges head on with the housing crisis across major capital cities in Australia and even the world that stress that households are facing as well with the high cost of living that millennials have inherited which they’re just unable to afford and we’re on the look out for businesses who are passionate about positively changing the way people live and how they connect socially to join us.
Now who’s The Room Xchange? They’re an online marketplace that connects busy people who’ve got a spare room with guests who are willing to give a couple of hours around the house each day in exchange for food and accommodation. So find out how you can join us, by becoming one of our valued partners in today’s episode.
Hi I’m your host Anne-Marie Cross and joining me today is CEO and Founder of The Room Xchange Ludwina Dautovic. To tell us more about how we can become a partner. So welcome to the show Ludwina.
[Ludwina]: Thank you very much for having me and I’m just going to say at this point you’re also one of our partners.
[Anne-Marie]: Yea, absolutely. Look in the last few episodes, we’ve been talking a lot about the benefits of becoming a host and a guest of The Room Xchange and today of course we’re going to be talking about the value of partnerships being at the core of the sharing economy and of course The Room Xchange as well, so just tell us a little bit about from The Room Xchange’s perspective why are they passionate about aligning themselves with key partners.
[Ludwina]: I for many business perspective from a marketing standpoint, it’s a smart thing to do to partner with other businesses that are aligned and/or complementary to what it is that you’re doing. Apart from the I guess the perception that people have of your brand when you’re partnering with other brands that’s also good to grow and to strengthen your own brand story. But it’s also good in terms of you know you’re supporting each other in that way so that their the benefits I guess from a business perspective. But from The Room Xchange’s perspective what it does is it just adds so much value to our users for them to have access to other brands that are going to be able to offer you know additional support, products or experiences.
And it’s such a win-win, of course we’re going to dive a little bit deeper in a moment into some of the benefits that our partners can expect and of course you’ve got a number of key partners that have joined and are supporting you, which is working really well and of course we’ll share who they are in a moment. But firstly let’s talk a little bit about the importance that your partners do have similar values in their approach, they’re like-minded so it’s really good opportunity I think to be able to share with people today the core values that are important to The Room Xchange.
[Ludwina]: Yea, look I think that’s vital for any organisation, when they’re looking at partnering with people to make sure that they’re in alignment in terms of their core values. I remember years ago when I was running a school media program, there was a lot of uproar around you know particular junk food companies or petroleum-based companies that were wanting to sponsor the school’s programs and obviously you know you see that there’s a misalignment there you wanna make sure that the companies that the schools were partnering with are going to be of value to the students so it’s the same with The Room Xchange or any other business and at the core for us our company’s really about making people feel good on the inside you know so anything so any kind of products that are going to be taken internally needs to make us feel good inside so they need to be good for our bodies so we’re looking at partnering with food or personal care products that are organic that are clean that don’t sort of have the petrol chemicals in them you know if they’re food products you know and that they’re good for us. If there’s anything that’s going to make us feel good on the outside and something that’s going to put a smile on our face so you know some kind of entertainment and you know going to see a band or you know movie tickets or just any kind of entertainment in general like events as well, just things that sort of you know to make you feel good and then the other thing is that it has to be good for the environment as well. We’re very much about The Room Xchange is going to put a dent in the environmental footprint that we all have by using resources that are already exist so that’s a core value for us so it has to be good for the world as a whole. So good for us you know internally, good for us externally and also good for the environment.
[Anne-Marie]: Of course, any organisation that is working within any of those key areas, there’s certainly an opportunity to speak more with you about yea becoming one of the partners and we’ll share with everyone in a moment, how they can do that, how they can reach out to you. Let’s talk about some of the benefits as a partner, when aligning themselves with The Room Xchange, what benefits can they expect to achieve?
[Ludwina]: One of our key focuses at the moment is the amount of PR that we’re getting and that has a lot to do with the impact that The Room Xchange is going to have on how people live globally and there’s a lot of issues that are coming up in the media at the moment that The Room Xchange just by nature address and because of those issues that we’re addressing obviously it’s easier for us to get the media stories. So the value in one of the key things is PR exposure so obviously the brands that come onboard with us will be getting they’ll be named as a strategic partner in all of our media.
Then we’ve got the above and below the line media exposure, so just strategic alliances and campaigns that we put out, you know we post a lot on our LinkedIn profiles which gets a lot of exposure to other organisations there in our social media as well. They also get featured on our website o n our partner page and in our blog, you know inclusion in our partner communications across all of our networks and you at times we’re also going to be doing tailored strategic campaigns to reach specific targeted audiences so you know that’s one of the key areas that we’ve got with our exposure and as I said it’s mainly to do with a lot of the key issues that The Room Xchange is addressing can I mention what some of those are?
[Anne-Marie]: Absolutely, go for it!
[Ludwina]: What we’ve realized is that and this has just been a beautiful thing about, it’s just an idea on how me and my husband live and we figured that so many people could get their time back as well and just get a new way to live, but what we’ve realized is that just by sharing the time that we’re in now, you know housing shortage is a big issue, that’s being discussed alo in the media right now and that’s obviously that’s one of the issues that we’re addressing the high cost of living. You know we’ve got an aging population who you know need support and apart from putting you know aged people into the retirement villages or care homes that they may not want too you know that’s a way that we can be supporting them is by having companionship in that house with student housing. You know that’s another massive one that’s in the media at the moment very little amount of affordable student housing for both international students and also students in Australia. We’ve got life-work balance issues that The Room Xchange is addressing, household stress, you know human connection where people are feeling lonely even though we’re sort of living in a world where pull out your smart phone and you can be connected with anyone in the world and yet we’re feeling really lonely and then of course there’s the environmental footprint that I had already mentioned that by utilising resources that already exist it’s going to minimize our environmental footprint that we leave behind so there’s a lot of related businesses and organisations who can come off the back of those issues that we’re solving and partner with us and we could really create a beautifully well-rounded organization with all of this support around us from other brands
[Anne-Marie]: Yea, absolutely and I mean the fact that you’ve only been around for ten months I believe and the exposure that you’ve gained already is absolutely phenomenal in that short amount of time. Do you wanna just give people a snapshot as to the exposure you have already as The Room Xchange gained in the marketplace.
[Ludwina]: Yea, it’s been pretty incredible from the get go I think it only took about 2 weeks to get our first piece but the Backpackers tax last year was a big issue in government. We had a couple of articles run on the back of that. We’ve been featured in The Sydney Morning Herald, News.comAU, Start Up Smart, Byte, which is a travel blog, another one called Travel Weekly. We recently had two articles featured in the most recent edition of the CEO Magazine, we had a featured article on The Room Xchange, also on my career and how I got to be here . We’ve got you know The Age coming up, we’ve got, there’s so much, it’s just crazy and in fact my PR agent has actually done the numbers and this is quite staggering apparently we’ve gained over $620,000 in advertising spend rate or the equivalent of the advertising spend rate, so we had to pay for the amount of editorial that we have had. In terms of the advertising spend rate it’s $620,000 worth and we’ve had between 1.7 – 2.2 million have already heard or read about The Room Xchange through editorial.
We’ve already had over 200 sign ups you know from that and we only launched a few days ago. You know, when you look at the media that we’re getting and the level of interest that’s coming through that, it’s going to be yea, it’s quite phenomenal and what’s coming up like one of the things that’s recently happened is, you know we’re getting interest from government so I’m getting invites to go and meet with various different ministers in government and you know that’s obviously as a result of some of the issues that they’re having to deal with too. So it’s not something that we’re having to fight for, in terms of media, we’ve already, you know, the media’s already converted in terms of what we are already doing and now it’s a matter of having more stories for them.
[Anne-Marie]: Yea, absolutely and that’s of course where partners who have aligned with The Room Xchange are really going to benefit. Now we mentioned in the introduction and you’ve shared again the crisis that Australia and even the world has with its housing. The millennials, the cost of, oh the high cost of living, they just can not afford and this really is where The Room Xchange is taking things to the next level. Talk a little bit about then some of the guests. So these really are potential clients for some or you know the exposure that you’re then getting to these guests that are coming and of course the hosts. But let’s talk about some of the guests because you really as The Room Xchange have a diverse clientele or people that you can support when considering guests that come on The Room Xchange program, share a little bit more about that.
[Ludwina]: Yea, absolutely. We’ve identified what we call our core personas in terms of the people that we feel will be ideal users of The Room Xchange, there are actual border groups outside of that, but just to sort of, you know pinpoint it down to three key target hosts, you know in any business you want to sort of like, you know, not go too wide in your approach. But the first key guest target for us are travellers. So they’re travellers, whether they’re from overseas on a working holiday here in Australia because let’s reiterate the accommodation at The Room Xchange is mid to long-term, it’s not short term. So it’s not sort of like for a weekend or a week’s stay. That’s why we say if people have working visas, you know they generally wanna stay sort of like at least one month at a time, in one place. When someone might just be here on a couple of weeks trip, you know, might want to stay a couple of nights in one location. So, we’re looking at those who are travelling on a working visa but also travel within Australia. We’ve found through our research that there’s a lot of people in Australia who like to do extensive travel within Australia. So they’re a key group.
The next ones are independent youth. Now this would include young people wanting to leave home. Minimum age is 18 to use The Room Xchange. Now that would be, you mentioned that the high cost of living is limiting their opportunities to be able to afford to live outside of their parents home, but they’re also under independent youth as a student too. So again, whether they’re international students coming to Australia because the Universities are here really need those international students to stay open and also the local university students being able to have affordable housing for them. So there’s a good range in there.
Then we have another group called New Starters, now these might be people who’ve already been studying and finished, perhaps they’ve had a single career for a long period of time and they’re now ready to start the next chapter in their life, but don’t have the financial backing to do it on their own, having an exchange gives them an opportunity to be able to, you know, live somewhere without the cost of living by doing the exchange and in the meantime building up something for themselves. Sort of in that group there too, you know there’s again through our research we found that there’s a group such as, you know, women over 50, who are divorced and not gained enough Superannuation to live out the rest of their life, you know, they’re going to end up being a group too but you know as I said there’s lots of fringe groups, but the key groups are the travellers, the independent youth and the new starters and then we go onto the hosts. Now we see that empty nesters, I hate that term, but anyway that’s just what they call us. I’m actually officially going to be an empty nester this week, my daughter’s leaving home on Wednesday –
[Anne-Marie]: Oh wow!
[Ludwina]: I know! But I’m like yes, I’m so excited, I’ve done my work for 25 years and now, yea they’ve both left home. You know there’s a lot of people like my husband and I, who have the family home that we have and we don’t want to give it up. We worked really hard all of our life for it and we want a place where our kids, adult kids can come back home or you know, have family come and stay and have the space to be able to do that, like I’m already thinking aw I’ll have two spare bedrooms upstairs, I need to fill them, you know cause I like having that energy of having people around. So we’re looking for an exchanger for at least one of them. So, you know, there’s a lot of people like that and they might still have the family pets that need looking after or you know they might have gardens that need maintaining and or they might decide you know to keep that sort of young, youthful energy around their home.
And then we have young families and you know the family can be made up of any kind of dynamic, but generally we see them as having young children, whatever that make up is in terms of the family unit and you know they’re just looking for that extra help around the house, just to give them more time with their children and their partners rather than them feeling them like they’re running around in circles, day in and day out. I remember what that was like, when my kids were young, but I was fortunate enough to have a Greek mother-in-law that lived close by and she would’ve kept my children had I let her but you know, not everyone’s got the benefit of having grandparents. For example that can support their kids and the cost of child-care is so prohibitive and so then you can sort of see that Monday to Friday from 3 to 6pm, you know we see that as a really key time of families getting support with somebody in their home.
And then the other group is busy professionals, this could be singles or couples or just even maybe a shared house of busy professional people who spend all waking hours working to pay for their lifestyle but have little time or energy to spend on their home or where they live or let alone, you know, possibly even cook a decent meal most days or just running errands or just simply having personal time.
So they’re the core groups that we see as being our ideal target market.
[Anne-Marie]: Now what’s really interesting, there is a story behind the story of The Room Xchange and I think now would be a great time just to share with people who may not know your story already about how The Room Xchange actually came to be because you were a host but you didn’t really know it then because The Room Xchange wasn’t in existence then, but share a little bit more about that, so people can really see that this, you’ve been doing this for quite some time already.
[Ludwina]: Yea, look just by default, having adult children, you know they had friends who would travelling, we also had you know some of our friends from overseas had adult kids who were you know travelling around Australia and you know, they sort of wanted somewhere to stay. They wanted to come and stay with us at least for a little while, but then you know we’d like them to sort of stay a little bit longer, but what we found is there’s a real difference between you know, somebody that’s in your home, that actually really feels like it’s their home, if they’re a guest they sort of tend you know, do you mind if I have a sandwich, as opposed to if they feel like that they’ve either paid usually paid for rental, your food, whatever I’ll just open up the fridge and grab something and that’s really how I wanted my household to run and so I just organically came up with this idea you know they wanted to stay longer and have that sort of feeling like it was they’re home, I said well how about you help me out a couple of hours a day in exchange for your food and accommodation. Now it really didn’t sort of start out that clearly in the beginning, but it just sort of morphed into that and then we’re been doing it for about four years and then the second last person that we had, she was from Spain really started to solidify that sort of whole concept and she was with us for three months and then Guillaume came and that was 18 months ago and he’s been, he’s actually going to leave tomorrow, which I’m really sad about but he’s been with us for yes 18 months and you know so many people kept saying to me – oh my God it’s such a great idea and I said yea I know I don’t do any housework but what I do is cook, but that’s because I enjoy it and I spend my evenings and my weekends doing what I want to do, you know and they said aw can you help us find one, someone like Guillaume and then I kept hearing that, like 5, 6, 7 times and then my husband and I had a chat one night, in the kitchen literally and he’s like this could be a global company you know and I said yea I know, I’ve been thinking about that too and he said, I think we should do it and I said yea I think we should and he said do you think you could do it? And I went, yea, I think I can do it and then that’s how The Room Xchange was born and then, you know we re-mortgaged our house and you know, took some money to invest in the company to get an investor ready, which is where we’re at right now, so we’re raising capital, we’re looking at in around 3 years, you know turning it into a publically listed company. I mean, we’ve got big global plans for it, but it just seems you know, we made the right decision, at the right time on the cusp of when this was so, you know, the world is so ready for something like this.
[Anne-Marie]: Yea, yes right time, right place. You’ve been living it yourself so and several times so you know all of the best practice if you will and of course as you’ve mentioned, I think that you’ve mentioned too you’ve got a beta program too at the moment and you’re certainly continuing to develop. Let’s talk about some of the partners that have already aligned with The Room Xchange.
[Ludwina]: Yea, well as I said at the beginning of the show – you are one of our partners.
[Anne-Marie]: Yea, absolutely!
[Ludwina]: Yea, yea and that partnership is the development of this Podcast show and you know there’s lots of different ways to look at incorporating partners within The Room Xchange, you know some are – you know you’re a communications partner for us, you know we have partners that are product partners. So for example, Nature Direct, they’re a natural cleaning company here in Australia. All of their cleaning products are all made from essential oils and are really good for, you know you can breathe them in and know that you’re going to get sick or harm yourself and plus they’re good for the environment. So having product partners onboard is so invaluable. We’ve got another communications partner called VoiceByte, they’re an app, it’s kind of like a you know audio for Twitter so you can audio record a kind of like a Tweet and then share that out to your social media but there’s a lot of other applications that we can use with that too, in terms of our identifying who is actually sharing our social content via hashtags, which is ideal with, to be able to use that media dashboard that we have with partners that are coming onboard, so we can sort of do a promotion out there, do a voice byte, put a hashtag on it and then we can look at the dashboard and see where those responses are coming back in.
[Ludwina]: So you know, yea so things like that can use and as I said with yours being another communications partner you know we’re obviously able then to get the word out and then you and I doing cross promotion so there are those types of partners. We’ve got like advertising partners as well, Last Minute Billboards, they’ve been providing us with a digital billboard ad, which is just amazing, you know that we’re going to be able to be seeing us up on a Freeway somewhere soon.
[Ludwina]: Yea, I know it’s fantastic!
Every is another new partner that we’ve just taken on board and they’re an event platform that aggregates events all across Australia within their technology and then they’ll be adding that onto our actual platform very soon, which will be great because then we’ll be able to provide all of our users with localized events too, I’m loving that.
[Anne-Marie]: That’s amazing
[Ludwina]: Yea, that only just got finalized last week. I’m so excited about that and we’ve got Trevello, they’re actually a travel app, this is a really cool app actually so people listening you know check it out. What iti does is you can create a profile on there as a traveller and identify where you are and then you can connect up with other travellers via interest or location, wherever you are in the world. Which is fantastic, so they’re going to be highlighting The Room Xchange on their app and vice versa, so you’re getting an idea of the kind of people that we have. Australian Women’s Network is a fantastic one, they’re a national business women’s network, so obviously the women that are part of that network are going to be ideal for us in terms of target market for hosts. CV check is just such a wonderful partnership they’ve been amazing. All of our users can apply for a police check directly in the profile building area, when you’re becoming a member because it’s important that all of our users need to have a police check to add that security for everyone. It’s very low cost but they can do it within our system because of our partnership with CV check and CV check are also really kindly just opened up their vast network to me, to the point where 3 of our partners have actually come through them and there’s another one 360 App, which is, this is another great one. It’s an app that people who have got things that they don’t need anymore but are completely useable can list them on an app and then people who need them can come and pick them up for free.
[Anne-Marie]: That’s incredible
[Ludwina]: I know you get an idea in terms of the kind of partners that we’ve got now and you know they’ve varying degrees in terms of where they’re at you know within their own company and we’ve got another one called GoldenTicks, which is an incredible ticketing platform, you know from small events to sort of 20,000 person run events, you know and they’re going to be supporting us with the events that we’re going to be running for The Room Xchange too.
So there’s a vast array there, you know within that. There’s lots of possibilities, one of the things I love to do with businesses is play ‘what if?’. Let’s just talk about the possibilities of what we could do together and how we could support each other and it’s really fascinating with what comes up.
[Anne-Marie]: And I can really see from what you’re just explaining with the different companies, your different partners that you’ve aligned with and their service offerings how you’ve really leveraged that to support everybody who’s involved in The Room Xchange platform and of course the benefits that are going out to the partners as well, so just to recap and share with everyone Ludwina how they can get in contact with you, these partner opportunities really are going to continue to add value, enhance the exchange that you’re offering with people, so some complementary incentives, let me just list some again I know we’ve covered it but sometimes people need to hear these things again to realize you know what maybe that is an opportunity for us. So travel vouchers, flights for accommodation, you’ve got car hire, maybe taxi vouchers, food and drink vouchers, entertainment, household items, experiences, you know even extreme adventures, clothing, electronics, digital, personal care, I mean there are so many different opportunities within those key areas that a service or a business is able to provide those complimentary incentives and if they feel aligned with The Room Xchange’s values that you shared, of course, you would love for them to reach out, have a conversation, have a discussion and see where that takes you.
Ludwina, what’s the best way for a potential partner to reach out and get in contact with you?
[Ludwina]: Well they can either connect with me directly on LinkedIn. Ludwina Dautovic or just shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org that’s the letter ‘X’ Change dot com and we’ve got a partnership document that we’ve put together to just sort of help potential partners get an idea of how they could be involved with us and what they could gain from that. So just shoot me an email and request that and a time to have a chat, it’s really that simple and we’d love to have you connect with us on social media as well, so if you’re a potential partner and you sort of want to have a look at what we’re doing and how we’re reaching out to our target groups, just head over to all the main social media platforms for The Room Xchange and you know you can connect with us there and also go over to theroomxchange.com and maybe create a profile for yourself and become a host or a guest.
Find out how to join The Room Xchange partner program by going to www.theroomxchange.com and remember that letter ‘X’. You can also follow The Room Xchange on all of the social media platforms just search for The Room Xchange.