"To foster a transformational community in a coliving space, you must encourage everyone to contribute. I believe community is built when individuals give without expecting anything in return."
As the coliving industry faces unprecedented growth, Jon Hormaetxe Castells discusses prioritizing meaningful community experiences and fostering authentic connections as a strategic vision for 2024. Join the three-time coliving award winner and advisor as he shares insights on the pivotal role community building plays in the success of coliving spaces while noting the balance required to meet demand and expand location portfolios.
Extending Beyond Coexisting
In 2015, Jon and his partner opened Sun and Co., Spain's first coliving space for digital nomads on the coast. The place was intended for living, working, relaxing, socializing, and having fun. However, as time passed, Jon discovered that coliving spaces could create transformative experiences that deeply impact people's lives. This realization led him to focus his career on community building.
As a coliving operator, the first thing that comes to mind when hearing 'community experience' is holding social events. But how can you ensure the event leads to a powerful, transformative experience? Those are not easy to come by - let alone recreate at scale. Jon, however, has great advice for those trying.
The Three Components of Creating a Transformational Community Experience
#01 "It all starts with a clear vision."
To establish an effective community strategy, it is essential for a coliving company first to determine its goals, brand, and culture. Who you attract to your space will determine the events you will facilitate. Having an intentional tenant profile is key to enabling a deep, authentic connection between coliving tenants later down the road.
#02 "Give your community a voice."
Jon believes that to create a transformational community where people can grow, they must contribute generously. This can only happen when they have ownership of events, thus leading events authentically. The result is a safe space where people can be their true selves without masks, open to vulnerability, and share a sense of belonging.
#03"Offer a variety of event types."
Foster various events to accommodate different interactions and levels of connectivity between people. For example:
- Professional events: Skillshare, round Table, masterminds, or other events that allow people to contribute their knowledge.
- Intimate gatherings: Sharing circles, bonfire sessions, or other cozy atmosphere events that allow people to open up.
- Social activities: Hiking, surfing, cooking, or simply hanging out with a beer for more casual interactions.
The Formula to Winning Three Coliving Awards
Jon and Sun and Co. were awarded the 2020 Coliving Awards for 'Best Community and User Experience'. They were also awarded the same title in 2021, but this time for 'Best Coliving for Digital Nomads'. Furthermore, B-hive Living, a company that Jon is advising, won the 'Community and User Experience' award this year.
"When you successfully create a community in a coliving space, it becomes a home for the people living there. During the pandemic, our clients generously donated 17,000 euros to support us, which made us realize the special bond we share. Before the pandemic, we had a 20% return rate, meaning that one out of every five people who stayed with us returned. Additionally, 66% of our clients reported having a transformative experience while staying with us, highlighting community experience's significant role in people's lives."
2024 Future Trends of Coliving
When asked what he sees for coliving in 2024, Jon replies: "The coliving market is experiencing high demand and low offering. We are seeing coliving rooms fill up fast, so coliving companies are expanding. That is where I see the clear use case for your software, Rayon: helping teams conduct fast feasibility studies to grow their portfolio.
Some coliving operators may mistakenly believe they do not need to invest in community building because it's currently easy to fill up their rooms. However, in a few years, coliving companies will have to differentiate themselves not only by price or interior design but also by the community experience they offer to their members. Clients will have a vast range of options and will select a coliving space based on their specific needs and personality.
"That is why coliving companies should focus on building and nurturing thriving communities from the get-go, that will last in the long run." As an advisor, Jon emphasizes this aspect with the companies he works with, such as Nomadico and others who have realized that community building is a gradual process and requires early fostering. By doing so, they gain a substantial advantage over their new competitors and offer added value to clients seeking a complete and unique coliving experience.
"In the future, we may see co-living spaces more focused on building specific types of communities as a primary pillar for success."
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