Swap and Surf Creates an Innovative Way For Surfers To Travel

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Swap & Surf co founders and cousins Philippe and Sylvain Garms

Through the concept of shared accommodation, which enables members to exchange or accommodate others in their home, S&s will change the way 35 million surfers can now travel. With S&s’s strong international presence of members in more than 60 countries, they are capable of fulfilling any travel project a surfer could imagine.

Thanks to emerging technology and a powerful international network, S&s proposes a new approach to shared accommodation that is already familiar to the surfing community. A proficient tool was needed to draw a community that maintains a close relationship to the environment in the nature of surfing and in their eclectic cultural  values. Thus, the launch of S&s’s redesigned website on March 21st filled the gap to bring the community to this sustainable travel solution.

TRIED AND TESTED CONCEPT WITH AN ESTABLISHED NETWORK

The outset approach focused on the organic development of the network. Bypassing investor involvement from the very beginning, S&s’s strong brand identity strengthened their community and established a solid international presence.  Their brand is also recognized by a large majority of the surfing world’s cultural and economic actors. It was a lengthy task, but it enabled the organization’s development to be better managed.

Today, S&s is a well-known brand in the surfing arena, mentioned in magazines, newspapers and websites across every continent. An organic development model was therefore the logical choice for a network emphasising very strong values.

The origins of this project, closely tied to its founders, can be better understood through the film “because…” – link to film here.

Philippe and Sylvain Garms, cousins from the South of France, define themselves as “entrepreneurs by nature.” Due to their active involvement in this large “outdoor” community, they are aware of its codes and its needs. Thus, their creation of this innovative project came quite naturally to them, without either of them having had any previous project management experience before launching this ambitious enterprise.

S&s FUNCTIONS LIKE A CLUB

Moreover, S&s functions like a club where every member is considered to be equal. For instance, although S&s boasts certain well-known surfing personalities within its ranks, a ‘Kelly Slater’ would have the same rank and receive the same attention as an amateur surfer, no matter where they live or what their surfing ability. While S&s may operate like a club, it is still structured like a business in the sense that its aim is to offer real client service and great assistance to all its members.

This is why a ‘freemium’ economic model was chosen and why the network strictly rules against allowing direct financial transactions between members (S&s is not an Airbnb for surfers, its concept is much more innovative and relative, as it works in harmony with existing customs in the vast surfing community).

AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH ABOUT TO EXPLODE

Importance lies in practicality for S&s by starting with the need to organize a specific surf trip that includes all the desired particularities (i.e. project for a family vacation, finding a place to stay, contacting locals for surf info, etc.). The logic behind emphasising models in which users are identified by a rank or standing does not make sense to S&s. All our network’s actors appear with the same status, regardless of their surfing capacities.

For S&s, all its members are “team riders” and the network insists on considering them as a group encompassing the wealth of diversity. This great wealth is showcased on the website in order to be discovered. The project’s creators tapped into the interests in travelling via a local surf network by becoming immersed in another surfer’s life in addition to the benefits from essential surfing resources (where to get a board, finding family-friendly waves, best after-surf eats, etc.) This exchange of diversity is an incredible opportunity and an added bonus. S&s believes in the same vision as Leonard Nimoy said, “The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have.”

A RETURN TO THE MOST AUTHENTIC VALUES

Although this approach represents a real change to modern perspectives, it is really nothing more than a return to basic universal principles. These are the principles of our first nations, such as the American Indians who believe that true wealth lies in what we share.

While the common connection between its members is surfing, S&s highlights its member’s diversity by turning the spotlight on their artistic talents or other individual specialities. For example, their newsletter featured the inventor of the rail grab, Linda Benson, who has been member of S&s since the beginning. They have also focused on the South African shaper of Italian origin Fabio Giacomini who has led an iconoclastic life and never miss an occasion to relay the work of the talented photographer Cesar Ancelle Hansen from Biarritz, France.

The film “our community” hits on the particular characteristics of this network, “all surfers, all different”, as is indicated on the website’s homepage – link to film here.

A SURFER, A LIVING PLACE

Member profiles are featured just as much as the living space because the two form a partnership together.

The profile allows you to discover common ground you may have with a surfer you want to contact (description, link to social networks, etc.). Your aspired surfing level is indicated (how many sessions per week/month/year + preferred wave size + preferred board type) so that you can find out if you both share the same surfing habits or preferences.

This additional information is considered equally as important in the eyes of S&s’s founders, who envisaged the creation of networks within a network.

– member’s list here

You can therefore identify yourself as an artist, photographer or even a shaper and you can limit your searches to members belonging to a preferred category. Similarly, discussions with S&s’s partner organizations including Surfrider Foundation Europe, Japan and Argentina have led to a building network to enable exchanges between members of these foundations. The same idea is planned for competitors and other actors in the surfing community.

NEW WEBSITE UPHOLDIING THE VISION

The objective for all this work and reflection is on S&s’s new website that launched on March 21, 2016.  This site was the final tool formed to put this widespread international network into action.

The link between living space and surfer has been strengthened, the search engine has been redesigned, all the ergonomic features have been reviewed to help with searching, an internal messaging system has been added to facilitate initial contact between members interested in an E-exchange and, on top of all this, the design has remained as simple as possible.

The website also allows its members to announce events happening near them and to access specific information regarding surf trips via a blog dedicated to this subject. Many other functions driven by both practicality and need are also in the works.

The new website makes it even easier to organize your next trip. Whether it be planning a cold-water surf trip in Alaska, contacting big-wave surfers to combine project expenses or pioneer surfers in India, you can find a place you feel right at home in a variety of mythical surf spots.  You can organize several places to stay in advance or simply ask a local living on the other side of the world what beaches he recommends to surf at with the whole family.

Today with the digital age breaking down borders, any travel project can be achieved through S&s. The project’s founders strive to turn the website into a tool to help you organize the most authentic surf trips possible, while steering clear of creating yet another community website or virtual cash machine.

It is still free to join S&s at the moment until a certain number of members has been attained. In following, the website will function through an annual inscription. This is the best way to ensure the project remains viable and capable of offering its community members all the assistance necessary to realize their dream surf trip. According to the Centre for Surf Research, 85% of surfers already have their perfect surf trip in mind. This model also maintains the community vibe by continuing to follow the nature of a club.

S&s are dedicated to maintaining a direct link with the surfing community for whom they have developed this ambitious project for. Feel free to reach out to the S&s team who desire to continually evolve the project for those with a passion for surfing and in search of achieivng their dream trip.

ABOUT S&s

Established in Bidart, on the Basque coast in France, Swap&surf is an ecotourism solution envisaged by surfers, for surfers. Operating since 2010, the network helps you organize a surf trip by exchanging living spaces, sharing accommodation or perhaps simply by obtaining information about a destination. As a result, surfers are able to plunge into the life of a local. Our principles are simple: no money is exchanged between members and the network is only open to individuals, not big companies. Accommodation costs are thus reduced to 0, and the advantages and ease increased to the maximum, with surfers able to engage in their host’s local offerings. Beyond the economic advantages, you will become immersed in your host’s surfing world and can make the most of incredibly useful local resources.

www.swapandsurf.com

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