“What makes a community?” is maybe the first question you should ask…
What kind of community should you build? “What makes a community?” is maybe the first question you should ask… Well, things often happen best organically – not forced. But this does not work well if you try to monetize and keep the people in that community under your “control”. You don’t want people to form their own community and float away from what you are trying to create. They should know that the safest and best way to be with the other members is at your place and that you are the reason they have connected. The community you want to form, is the one that sees your space as where they can meet interesting people, share knowledge and grow both personally and professionally. It’s very important that you hold events and gatherings for both residents and non-residents. This will strengthen the relationship between residents, as well as getting others to see the value of being part of the group. Build the kind of community you’d like, based around interests that you already know a lot about. Example diving, surfing, climbing or building startups. Different locations will probably also attract different crowds, so there will be another feeling to the place if it’s in a mountain-village, or on a beach, or in a big city. Another factor is the price. Different ticket prices/entry fees attract different people.
Residents People living staying in your space should be vetted and carefully selected. These are the “proof” of the success of your space. If you have random people living there that do not add any value to the group, the rest of the group will feel a lack of interest from the host. The host has an important role to fill. Selecting the right people, and then connecting members closer to each other. To build a community of knowledge and sharing, both long-term and some short-term residents is a healthy mix. But, don’t let guests stay shorter than 1-2 weeks. Shorter stays sometimes get people booking this accommodation for attending an outside event. They won’t bring much to the community, as they won’t invest time to get to know the residents and add value/knowledge.
How big should my community be? This question depends on your plans with your business and if you are able to scale with your property once you see you can fit more people. We have been talking with a lot of hosts and it seems like 20 people in a group are good for serendipity and activities, without being too stressful for hosts and guests. Anyway, there will almost never be 100% of residents in the house at once, because people have business meetings, meeting friends, getaways for the weekend etc.
Guests As your guests stay for a long time, they often build friendships outside the space too. This is a great opportunity for you to show off, but can also lead to a negative situation if people with bad attitudes or intentions start hanging around your space. Set clear rules regarding outside guests from day one. They should only be able to visit the social area, not work-area or bedrooms. Both of these are the sacred areas and places that residents should feel safe in – and should be strictly off-limits to non-paying guests. No guests should be allowed after 10 pm, especially as this is the time the house should start to quieten day anyway. If a resident becomes a life-partner with an outsider, it should be natural for the resident to pay more as their partner will be using the premises. A normal 10-20% more per month should be acceptable. If the resident wants their partner to move in full-time, the space should then have their own rule on this. Even though they might not use more beds, they are a bigger burden for the rest of the residents and add wear and tear – as well as adding to your water and electricity bills.
Events Here are some event suggestions, so residents get added value to their stay: Introduction of new guests: Let the new guests present themselves and what they are working on. Masterminds: For the residents that are struggling or want to share their experiences on running a business. Think Tanks: This can either be topics that are set in advance, or what the residents want to discuss. Some want to learn, and some want to share. This is a good point to show off what you know as you should lead the discussions. Hackathons: Either pre-set topics on new business ideas, or up for discussion as we go. It should be either 24 hours, or a weekend. At the end of the Hackathon, there should be a presentation of what has been achieved, and a jury/you should choose a winner.
Activities Hikes Team sports, like football or basketball. Local events / meetups (go together). Dinners – both in and out. BBQ or Drinks Party: This can help the more introvert, and slightly anxious people feel more relaxed – there is no denying that a glass of wine or a pint of beer can bring about the confidence and courage to strike up conversations more easily. Poker tournaments. Movie nights with popcorn.