Socially progressive website introduces a travel barter model to benefit the developing world. Tourboarding.com, a Chinese startup company, has taken off with their concept for giving budget-minded travelers the opportunity to stay with host families in exchange for providing English conversati
BigNews.Biz - Oct 03,2010 - Based in Shanghai, TourBoarding.com has introduced a travel barter model that utilizes language fluency as a new form of travel currency that can be used in China or anywhere in the developing world where people yearn to improve their living circumstances via mastery of a second language such as English.
Travelers who plan to visit China can use TourBoarding.com's bilingual communication interface and travel barter platform to arrange a rich variety of travel benefits from local hosts, such as home stay, tour guiding, and Chinese language or cooking lessons. Instead of paying cash for any of these services, travelers can pay by speaking their native language to their hosts for two hours a day, to help them achieve proficiency in their desired language. English is the most in demand, but German, Japanese, and French are also highly sought by the Chinese.
“Unlike other sites that bring travelers and hosts together, TourBoarding is the first site of its kind to offer a structured framework for travelers and hosts to barter directly with one another for services and make specific arrangements according to their own needs,” explained co-founder Ken Chen. The framework is also designed to be flexible enough so that travelers can deviate from the framework and self-design an à la carte travel experience according to their individual tastes and preferences. TourBoarding facilitates the searching, communication, and arranging process, but leaves the final details to hosts and travelers who are responsible for making any actual exchange happen.
TourBoarding is also the first site to offer traveler and host exchanges that are grounded on the principle of reciprocity: both traveler and host give and receive a valuable benefit in the exchange. Both have an equally vested interest in ensuring the success of the exchange. To date, many TourBoarding exchanges have been completed with positive testimonials posted on the site, demonstrating that TourBoarding's travel barter model is sound and viable.
Licensing opportunities are available so that this unique “high-impact social benefit travel model” can be replicated in other developing countries.
Even though TourBoarding is fairly new, it has become extremely popular with the Chinese who are anxious to use the site to meet foreigners they can host. They have signed up at a brisk pace ever since the site was officially launched on May 1, 2010. There are now thousands of hosts from all over China, from the first-tier cities to the remote towns rarely frequented by foreigners.
TourBoarding's travel barter model encourages diverse people to come together and share their personal assets by engaging in mutually rewarding exchanges. In recent years, there has been a distinct shift with increasing momentum from a culture of hyper-consumption to a more affordable, neighborly, and environmentally friendly culture of sharing.
Neal Gorenflo, visionary publisher of Shareable magazine, dubs this growing movement "the new sharing economy."
According to Mr. Gorenflo, "Technologies that help people share in the real world are taking center stage. This is the decade when we answer the question, 'how much can we share?'