Travel is an incredibly important part of the MBA experience and many people even take time off in between work and school to travel and gain new experiences. Last year BusinessBecause reported on MBA students' fave vacations and travel trends. This year, with the summer travel season in full swing, we thought to continue the MBA travel discussion and explore a growing trend in travel: home exchange.
Home exchange is rooted in the concept of the sharing economy, which according the European tech conference LeWeb, turns the principle of capitalism on its head, proposing that consumer access to goods and services is more important than owning them.
Exchanging houses as a way to travel reflects the current shift towards collaborative usage over possession. It is a trend in travel that is increasing in popularity every year, evidenced by the explosive growth of companies like AirBnB and Zipcar. Accommodation costs are the single largest expense of any vacation, a study by Knok found. Bearing that in mind, home swap providers like Knok propose a smart and social solution for those who want to save money and visit new cities like a local.
Home swap as a business model is not new. Since the 1950's, companies distributed paper catalogues and customers waited patiently for responses via post. Knok and the new class of home swap companies are bringing technology and innovation to update an old idea. Knok uses a proprietary algorithm to match potential exchange partners and users can search by city, region, or country, even filtering by lifestyle or favourite sport.
Given the average business school student's budget, the option of travelling and staying for free becomes pretty appealing. Patrick David, ESADE MBA 2013, swapped his condo in Toronto for a flat in the picturesque Barcelona neighbourhood of Gracia when he visited the city and the business school.
"For us it was a great way to maximize the experience while also saving money," Patrick said. "We really wanted to get the real Spanish experience, so a non-touristic apartment was perfect. We are actually still friends with the couple we swapped with."
The savings add up even more when you consider other advantages of staying in a real home as opposed to a hotel. You can stock the fridge and have access to a fully-equipped kitchen and have a large space for downtime or visiting with friends.
Home swapping during business school offers some exciting possibilities. Imagine swapping your home and visiting Australia before school or your new job starts. An MBA student from NYU Stern interning in London for the summer might swap with an LBS student working in New York! Earning your MBA in the sharing economy makes travelling on an MBA budget not only feasible, but also full of potential.
Sheera Gendzel is a recent MBA graduate and Partnerships Manager at Knok.
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