Wimdu kicks off search for UK advocates through peerindex.com

Europe-based private accommodation marketplace wimdu.com has begun a search for 40 UK advocates through a first social media campaign with peerindex.com.

Wimdu, a rival to US-based airbnb.com, is offering £100 vouchers that can be spent on a Wimdu stay through peerperks.com.

PeerIndex identifies social media users with influence on specific topics and then connects them with brands for product sampling campaigns to drive online discussion and advocacy.

Users sign up at www.peerperks.com and, if they’re sufficiently influential in a topic, they get free goods and services (or ‘perks’) from the brands that work with PeerIndex.

Michael Riegel, chief executive of Wimdu, said the campaign was being launched in the UK first before a possible roll out to other international markets it is active in.

He said London would be a key focus for Wimdu after analysis of its customer database found the service particularly appeals to people who are into art, culture and music.

But Riegel claimed that the social travel sector had huge potential to grow once awareness increases.

“Overall this sector is under the radar but we estimate that down the road, maybe one-and-a-half to two years, we are going to be 5% to 10% of the worldwide hotel market.

“We are very much convinced this is going to grow way bigger, the potential is more or less unlimited and at the same time the experience the guests get is really good.”

Riegel said he expected the sector to become more competitive as new players enter the market but he doubted there would be any new international players.

“We are very, very broad and not limited to certain geographical areas or accommodation or customer types. I do not think that many players will come into this market.

“We have made a big investment to do this international approach and go for all different markets. I think more and more players will enter the more niche markets.”

The 40 advocates will be expected to blog or write posts about their trips but Wimdu hopes they will enjoy they experience so much they will spread the word among their social networks.

“It’s really important in order to know what you are talking about to experience the product for yourself.

“The really good posts only come from those people who are 100% convinced of the concept. If they test it and really like it then we think they will post.”

Wimdu estimates it will hit €100 million of revenue this year and it offers 50,000 properties worldwide with more being added all the time once the firm has given them the seal of approval.

The firm believes it offers travellers better value for money than an equivalent hotel stay, particularly for larger groups like families who would normally need to book two rooms.

And it says the experience is enhanced by being put in touch with their accommodation provider – a local in the chosen destination to share travel tips and hints.

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