Weekday space and time saver – Jessica Lai

Imagine dramatically cutting back your travel time to work each day and not having to move to do it.  We will tell you about a website that brings together people with a vacant room and workers not wanting to travel. One of the founders of the website, Jessica Lai gives us the rundown.
Kevin:   Imagine dramatically cutting back your travel time to work each day and not having to move to do it. Enter Weekday Space, a website that brings together people with a vacant room and workers not wanting to travel. One of the founders of the website, Jessica Lai, joins me. Jessica, welcome to the show. Thanks for your time.
Jessica:   Thanks very much for having me.
Kevin:   Okay, so the website, tell me the premise. What’s behind this? How does it work?
Jessica:   So, it’s a listing site that brings together landlords who have a spare room that they’re willing to rent out during the week, and it pairs them together with commuters, people, largely professionals, who are over their long commute to work and would like to stay during the week somewhere closer to work.
Kevin:   I could imagine this would be hugely popular in cities like Sydney and Melbourne and some of the other cap cities as well. Is there much of a need for it some of the smaller capitals, do you think?
Jessica:   At this stage, we’ve seen the most interest in Sydney and Brisbane. Obviously you’ve got, in both of those capital cities, you have people commuting from the coast, so Sunshine and Gold Coast into Brisbane, and the Central Coast and Wollongong into Sydney, and really doing it tough with those long commutes. But we do see great opportunity to take Weekday space through Australia. I mean, we’ve heard so many great stories of the long commute, we all know someone with it. A friend of mine, for example, her husband commutes from Brisbane up to Townsville every week. There is certainly, we see the opportunity for it to go to the regions and, actually, this concept’s been parading in the UK for quite a few years now and is certainly a successful model throughout the UK.
Kevin:   You mentioned there that you see the user being young professionals. Is there an opportunity there for people maybe on shift work or even part-time work?
Jessica:   Absolutely. I mean, with the increase of contract and freelance work, that allows people to have that more flexible accommodation option without having to resort to nightly stays, which can be quite costly. We also see potential, maybe down the track, for even students or people coming for courses or what not, further education, and needing a slightly longer than usual accommodation option, which is not currently being provided for.
Kevin:   What’s the business model here, Jessica? How do you make your money?
Jessica:   We’re purely a listing site at this point. Landlords can pay to list their property. We’re actually also now taking listings for lodgers who have unique needs. They can list a profile about themselves and landlords can search for them.
Kevin:   What sort of security do you offer to someone? I mean, effectively, they’re bringing a stranger into their home, aren’t they?
Jessica:   Yes, absolutely. We’ve got tips on the website regarding safety. So, all the usual tips apply in terms of if you were taking on a flatmate or a lodger. Certainly having someone present during inspection. Doing your due diligence in terms of reference checks and so forth as you would a conventional lodger or flatmate still apply. Also have recommendations on the site in terms of just making sure you’re covered in terms of your insurance as well.
Kevin:   Yeah, that’s another key consideration too. The website is called Weekday Space. So, it’s designed for people who’ve got a room and they may just want to let it out casually or by the night or even during the week. How are you gonna stop it from being used or will you stop it from being used from people who are looking for full-time tenants who might want to be there for months?
Jessica:   We see the sweet spot here being people who … That might be shorter that it’s probably people who they’re looking for a home away from home. So, it might be an ongoing lodger, but it’s just someone who wants to look for weekday accommodations. So, it’s ideal for landlords who wouldn’t mind the company and the extra income, but don’t want to really give up their freedom and their space, particular on weekends. So, it will certainly be a shorter-term lease, so just a couple weeks, for example. But we see the opportunity in long-term leasing here so that people who have been exhausted with the cleaning up of rooms if they’ve gone to the Air BnB model in the past, and wouldn’t mind that continuity of the same person, but still want a bit more freedom than they’ve had. We see that really being the sweet spot for Weekday Space.
Kevin:   Yeah, well it’s certainly going to be catering for a need, so check it out for yourself, WeekdaySpace.com.au. Jessica, thanks for your time.
Jessica:   Thank you very much.

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