NEW YORK - It's the latest vacation rental platform, giving 'travel light' a whole new meaning. Whether it's for business or pleasure, Victoria O'Connell says, traveling alone as a woman can be intimidating. That is, until now.
At Golightly, all properties are owned or managed exclusively by women. The renters have to be ladies too, but men can travel with them. The home-sharing platform gives each member five invites. If women want to join on their own they can apply on the Golightly website. O'Connell and her team personally vet each applicant. "It’s just a little sisterhood," the CEO says, "to be able to support each other, and understand where we feel vulnerable."
O'Connell officially launched Golightly in January. The idea stemmed from a bad experience she had renting her London home about three years ago. "They wrecked the place, they stole my TV, everything from the kitchen, even the stools, the barstool, they only just left the microwave," she says.
An invite-only community of women is O'Connell's way of making home-sharing feel safe again.
Thousands of women have applied so far, and there are already more than 350 properties available for rent in cities around the world. "There’s an appeal to an all-women workplace and all-women environment, especially when you’re doing something vulnerable like traveling alone," Madeline Hirsch, a Golightly member, explains.
The platform's launch didn't come without its fair share of backlash. Several people on social media called it discriminatory against men. "I’m doing this for a need for a safer place for me to travel, my friends to travel, their friends to travel," O'Connell said in response, "I’m sure someone would happily do that for men, but men don’t go to the bathroom together, do they?"