From exclusive to professional to public, online social networks are quickly working their way into our daily lives and becoming an essential marketing tool for many. The most recent addition to the world of online networking is Modelshotel.com a private social network for professional models. Founder Jesper Lannung talks to us about the inspiration behind the concept and the reasons for its exclusivityâ€¦
Tell us a bit about modelshotel.com and what inspired its creation?
Modelshotel.com is a high trust private social network occupied by fashion models from around the world. It was created exclusively for fashion models from major agencies (Elite, Ford, NY models, etc). Our community offers models direct interaction and allows members to share advice and provide feedback on work experience. The site also has unique features including the ability to connect with models from agencies all over the world.
Life as a model can provide a lot of free time between castings and work. You really have the chance to explore your creative side. A lot of models advance into acting or musical careers, but I’ll be happy to add social networks to the list. What inspired me? I was inspired to create modelshotel.com because I thought the industry was missing a bit of unity. I took my personal experience of modeling around the world and applied a term I call â€œmodel needs to the concept of modelshotel.com.
I would meet a lot of guys/girls doing shows in Europe and looking back how many of them have the same mobile number today as 2-3 years ago? Modelshotel.com makes it easy for models to stay in touch. A model can type in an agency and then immediately see a list of fellow models with his/her agency. They can then contact the model and ask him/her for advice. Where should I stay? How’s the booker atâ€¦? Is work slow or busy there? What’s the best event to attend tonight? What gym you prefer? When starting to build the site I worked hard to apply features I thought I would need had I just started out at a new agency. I think that these â€œmodel needs played a large influence in the idea to start Modelshotel.com as a social network and Models 411.
There’s been a slight backlash against the idea of models having an exclusive space on the internet; with some of the online media taking the opinion that modelshotel.com is superficial in its concept and is solely for the beautiful people. How do you feel about this?
I can see where the backlash comes from, but you know I take it with a smile. I think everyone has beauty in his or her own way. I feel it’s judgmental to characterize Modelshotel.com as solely a place for beautiful people. I guess the definition of beautiful belongs in the eye of the beholder and I’ll leave it at that. A lot of industries have private clubs, societies and networks so what’s wrong with models having a private online social network?
I will admit that some of the media articles were a bit shocking to read. A few of the quotes I read were very twisted. You have to remember the media will copy and paste your quotes until they have the story they like, not you. In all honesty I think a few of the editors were quick to judge a book by the cover. To really understand Modelshotel.com you have get past the front-page and look at our concept from a member’s perspective.
What does the future hold for the company?
Hopefully less attacks from articles like Gawker (LOL). There’s a lot of potential for Modelshotel.com. The future is bright and I remain optimistic about what’s to come. I’m thankful to be working with a great team and I really believe in the project. The site has seen quick membership growth since our launch in late July. We’ve received good feedback from members and added some of the biggest names in modeling in our first 2 months. I am a firm believer that there are many more exciting possibilities to come. I believe Modelshotel.com will continue to grow. My vision is that Modelshotel.com will become a global social network for the fashion model industry. I also believe it will be a network capable of providing incentives to its valued members.
Have you found promotion of the site challenging in any way? And if so how?
Yes! I will admit that the week after NY’s fashion week here in Mid September I was exhausted. Not only was I running around to castings, doing a few shows, but in between all that I was out all day and night promoting the site. The whole networking aspect of the entertainment industry belongs in a different interview, but yeah it can be a challenge to cover all bases when you are a small team. It can also be difficult because when you are launching a new venture you don’t have the budget to really cover all angles as much as you like.
Fortunately I got some help from the people at DIESEL and YELLOW FEVER (Jamison Ernest) which allowed me to place our banners backstage, at the after parties and deliver invitation keys to the models at castings. I think that positive word of mouth from members and designers has been helpful and I’m very thankful for that.
Modelling agencies usually make it their responsibility to find accommodation for models, was it necessary for you to seek their approval prior to development?
I spoke with an established and well-recognized booker briefly prior to launching the project and he told me it was a good idea. We built the site mainly for the models in the industry. If you have agents on the site you can only imagine the endless emails bookers would get outside the office. Also we want to respect the models on the site and their respective agencies. Modelshotel.com is not a place to find or recruit talent. Agencies and agents really do their best to help all models out but time plays a restrictive role. With 50-200 guys/girls on a board it’s hard for an agent to be an individual tour guide for all the models at once. Modelshotel.com is a social network, but also kind of an online guide for models. From the agents I’ve talked to, the feedback on modelshotel.com has been very positive. The bookers I know have been happy to suggest the site to models on their board. I think that agents view Modelshotel.com as a helpful guide. You know models can use it as a resource to find friends from the same agency in a new city, to ask a question on nutrition in the forum or question an experienced model on career advice. Modelshotel.com can be very helpful to a new face living in a new city.
What has been the most difficult aspect of modelshotel.com?
The project requires a lot of energy. We’re a small team and there are a lot of ideas. Incorporating these ideas into technological solutions for the site can be challenging. The developers have done a terrific job working on the coding but of course little twitches can be a pain. Another difficult aspect has probably been the budget side. I mean you see potential but also have to think of your cost structure. You have to be careful with your budget and make the right decisions which you see promising. You have to budget your time, bridge good partnerships and work hard to provide a community that’s of value to members. All these factors can be difficult aspects when one is launching a new venture.
As a model yourself what’s your view on the recent ban of size zero models from the catwalks?
Marc Jacobs would probably give you a better quote on that than me. I think fashion is fashion. I mean if you’re a natural size zero it’s not fair to be ruled out, but then again if you are starving yourself to meet the cut that’s not cool either. There’s nothing wrong with a model that’s a few inches above a zero in my book. I think fashion will slowly change as we move into 07′, I could be wrong, but I’d guess you’ll see the demographic move away from the ultra thin appeal and more toward a natural shabby chic latter 80’s feel that’s shaped by the fitness center and not half a donut (LOL).
and finally what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
â€œthe best things happen when you least expect it