Gothenburg's Creators Inn by Elvine has taken couch-surfing to the next level. Visiting creators can take advantage of totally free short-term accommodation during their stay. Jesper Larsson of Next Century Modern (and a MoCo contributor) partnered with Elvine to offer accommodation to creatives when in Gothenburg, an idea that will spread to Stockholm this August. Shown above are Daniel Mänd of Elvine ("sophisticated clothes for unsophisticated behavior") and Jesper Larsson in Elvine's showroom in Gothenburg. We asked Jesper to tell us more about this very interesting concept in creative travel.
Creators Inn is a terrific idea. How do you define creators? Are there any limitations to this?
We have a very wide definition of creators. The reason for coming to town is more important than the title on your business card. We try to support up and coming creators of different kinds, the ones that would normally end up on someone's couch. To find them, Creators Inn by Elvine works first and foremost with local independent organizers offering their guests a place to stay. But everyone is welcome to register and explain why they should be granted a stay. Foreign visitors are prioritized. But you need what we call a "valid reason" to stay at our Inn. A valid reason is some sort of creative activity, preferably together with local creators or something that incorporates the city in some way. For instance, meeting up an old Swedish friend to go clubbing is not a valid reason to be granted a free stay.
Totally free accommodation sounds too good to be true. What's the catch?
There is no catch, really. We like to document our guests and write about them on our blog, but that's about it. And if a guest doesn't want to be featured online we respect that too. People have a hard time imagining that it is actually is totally free. Most of our guests don't believe it until they see the room. And then they become happily surprised and usually extremely humble. I think it's troubling that people can't seem to grasp something as simple as hospitality. Somehow this noble phenomenon got lost with capitalism.
Can you tell us more about the project? How did it come about? Whose idea was it?
At the time I had a lot of creative friends visiting me in Gothenburg and I wanted to increase the hospitality level. At the same time we - my design and communication agency Next Century Modern - had to come up with a marketing idea for our client Elvine. And since they are very Gothenburg- oriented and has a brand value that goes "Elvine is your friend", we figured they would make the perfect partner in this project. And so they did. We started the project together and the rest is history.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been a buzz word in the corporate world for quite some time now. With Creators Inn by Elvine we tried to add some creativity to the equation, labeling what we do as CSR - Creative Social Responsibility. By offering visiting creators free accommodation, we hope to remind people of a lovely little thing called hospitality. And in addition to making the visiting creators happy and Gothenburg a more interesting city because of their presence. It's actually a win-win-win-win-win-situation:
Win #1 - The creators get free accommodation with a high standard of service
Win #2 - The local independent event organizers don't have to pay for their guest artists/creators
Win #3 - The city becomes more attractive for creators, and the visiting creators make the city more interesting for the inhabitants
Win #4 - The project creates natural meetings between local and visiting creators
Win #5 - Our partners get goodwill and great PR
What are the next steps?
The next step for Creators Inn by Elvine is trying out the project as a hotel-in-hotel venture! (compare to the shop-in-shop phenomenon), where Creators Inn will occupy one or several rooms in a regular hotel, creating an original and creator friendly environment in the rooms. We have so far used apartments and privately held spaces to host the project, but it's been really hard work doing all the cleaning, changing sheets and so forth in between guests, since we don't really have a routine doing that. A hotel has that kind of infrastructure in-house. We are at the moment discussing this new model with hotels in both Stockholm and Gothenburg and they are both very positive to the idea. So for now it seems we will open two hotel-in-hotels this coming fall. I also hope we will get the funding we have applied for, to do some research regarding the project and its impact on society.
The bigger picture? I really think and hope this is the future of marketing. Creating as many win-win-situations as possible, including the bigger picture, social entrepreneurship etc.