If you are runner you may have seen a few tweets, articles or news reports about a new business called “StayBillety”. The reason I say if you are a runner is because StayBillety is currently promoting itself along with Ottawa Race Weekend. For those outside the city who aren’t aware, Ottawa Race Weekend is a HUGE event, one that literally takes over the city for a full weekend. Almost 50,000 runners take part in the event and many of them come from out-of-town. Ottawa is an amazing destination city at the best of times, but throw in races for everyone from beginners to elites, plus a race course with scenery arguably second to none, it is no wonder many athletes flock to this event.
Of course traveling to a race brings its own challenges. I know, as I have made a trip for a race several times now. I have raced half marathons, 30k’s and marathons in Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver, New York, Philadelphia and Prague. When traveling there is always the added complication of finding accommodations. So many factors come into play: proximity to the start/finish line, price and – something that I consider a prime consideration – late check-out availability. Seriously, do you want to start a long drive home, or worse catch a flight, without first having the chance to shower? Personally I place more importance on that post race shower than I do on a good meal!
StayBillety is offering a new way to approach accommodations. It is an online service that helps link travelers to homes that are willing to rent out space. The idea is to link people with common interests, in this case runners. So, if you are coming from out-of-town for Ottawa Race Weekend you could find a place to stay owned by others who support the event and perhaps take part in it themselves. As a traveler you could potentially have a local’s expertise about the city and/or the race to tap into as well. It is a perfect way to meet up with fellow runners and forge new friendships. And let’s face it, we runners are known for wanting to congregate and share running stories. Who else wants to listen to our stories of lost toenails or awkward chafing spots?
That said, hosts also have the option of simply renting out their home while they are away. The hosts get to set their price and ideally the guests have the opportunity to save some money on a weekend when prices are most likely at a premium. And hopefully guests get that chance to head back and have that long hot shower they deserve after the race without room service knocking repeatedly to try to get them to leave. And as an added bonus, Run Ottawa will get a percentage of every booking.
I think it will be very interesting to see where this new service goes. The idea will be that it will be linked to many events and organizations, not just running. My interest of course lies in the running events. As race events get bigger, alternatives need to be offered in the area of accommodations. I find it appealing that there could be the opportunity to meet new friends in the running world. I have had that experience through social media and as a result have come to know some great people who I make sure to visit when racing in their area of the province. This seems like another way to expand your running circles, either by being a guest or a host.
For more information about StayBillety, check out the website at http://www.staybillety.com/