SU alumna Barbara Jones has big plans to revolutionize the way we travel and strengthen community bonds. The Newhouse School professor of practice is the CEO and founder of StayBillety, a community-based home sharing service that connects like-minded hosts and guests by their common interests. The company was founded in May 2015 and officially launched in March 2016.
StayBillety differs from other online accommodation services, like Airbnb, in that it partially eliminates fears of “stranger danger.” As Jones puts it, “A lot of people don’t like the idea of staying with strangers, so it is much more comforting to stay with people who share your interests, passions, and principles.” This introduces a previously untapped user base to the home-sharing economy: people who never would have been comfortable with the practice of home-sharing before.
Coming up with the right name for the company was no easy task, but Jones eventually had her eureka moment. She coined the term StayBillety from a clever play on the words “Stability” and “Billeting,” a common practice in Canada where people open their homes and share their spaces with strangers for temporary periods of time. She was inspired to start StayBillety because of her experiences growing up in a family that billeted all the time.
Jones says the most challenging aspect of running StayBillety is raising awareness to get more hosts and more guests. Additionally, gaining affiliate agreements with a diverse variety of organizations, such as Syracuse University or Sail Canada, is very important to help grow and expand her business. Managing time and money is always a challenging aspect for any business, but Jones enjoys the work that comes with running her own business.
In fact, she is no stranger to the entrepreneurial spirit. She’s had multiple single purpose companies, a few start-ups, and was even responsible for launching international business and websites during her time working for The Weather Channel. StayBillety is the largest personal venture she’s had thus far, and she is very hopeful for its future.
Moving forward, Barbara Jones has big plans for her company. She hopes to gain more affiliates, hosts, languages, and revenue within the next few years. With everything she does, community building remains at the forefront of her mind and because of this StayBillety is also a social enterprise that supports charitable organizations. According to the company’s website, “Each month, the StayBillety community will also select a national charity to receive funds resulting from transactions not directly associated with registered affiliate events.”
For more information about StayBillety, contact Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Blackstone Global Media Fellow Justina Hnatowicz
Photo by Blackstone Global Media Fellow Amanda Chou