HiBnb is an online marketplace dedicated to growing the cannabis community by providing four pillars of engagement; Stay Hi offers inclusive accommodations, Play Hi is an activities and event ticketing platform, Read Hi editorial covers cannabis news and culture, and Get Hi provides compliant marketing for dispensaries, brands, and products.
Our mission is to “share what you love” to bring together the cannabis community without shame or censorship. We are committed to the normalization of cannabis across international borders and to promoting education towards the benefits of cannabis both for recreational/social purposes and better health and wellness.
Tell us about yourself?
I have always been a passionate cannabis advocate and activist. My background is split between sales and marketing to promote brands and products that I love, broadcast T.V. and journalism, and writing and directing in film and television to promote a message that resonates with a widescale audience. I am blessed to bring together all three of these passions and experiences with HiBnb, so I feel that HiBnb is the culmination and destination of my life’s work. My background experience has only prepared me for this time now. To be able to contribute towards a global awakening to the benefits of the cannabis plant is an honour. I am proud to be recognized as a thought leader in cannabis tourism on an international stage and proud to represent Canada on it.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Well, I didn’t anticipate the pandemic or the economic turbulence that would arrive subsequently, so going back a year or two I think my message to myself would be to focus, focus, focus in that initial engagement and prove the concept out of the gate. Because of the economic and global issues, HiBnb made an early pivot to enter the U.S. market, and doing this, caused our focus to widen. Without enough resources, we haven’t been able to effectively penetrate the markets we’ve entered. The other message I’d send to myself is to immerse myself in corporate finance and learn more about raising capital and pitching to investors.
What problem does your business solve?
Now that cannabis is legal and/or decriminalized in many markets and countries, the cannabis consumer wants to enjoy the plant and its products. However, there is nowhere in the hospitality industry that welcomes the cannabis consumer, and there are very few opportunities for consumers to actually enjoy consuming cannabis in social and recreational environments. HiBnb is a shame-free, uncensored platform that invites the celebration of normalizing cannabis use. We are ahead of the curve as the production and purchase of cannabis are legal (and/or decriminalized), but the regulations to allow for consumption of the product are not yet in place. With HiBnb, a consumer can travel internationally and not have to worry about where and how they can access the plant. Our community relies on either directly connecting the Guest to a nearby licensed dispensary or the hosts leaving a gift for their guests. So the traveller can arrive and enjoy their lifestyle choice legally and safely. For many people, cannabis is their medicine, and they need access to it when travelling or on vacation.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Honestly, I was inspired to create HiBnb after Canada was the first G7 country to legalize it at the federal level. The general public was so excited, but when the legalization happened, there were so many regulations inhibiting brands from marketing and advertising and inhibiting consumers from open consuming. This meant consumers still needed to hide in an alley to consume or support the stereotype of consuming in their basement. What if the consumer is travelling and consumption is not permitted in hotels? Or if they are a home renter and not a homeowner and smoking is not permitted in their home? There was widespread disappointment that expectations were not met. I had a knee-jerk reaction to both make a statement and provide a service. HiBnb is what the legalization of cannabis should look like – the normalization of the product with full rights to consumption parallel to the rights of someone who enjoys alcohol. Pushing that even further, I am frustrated at how Canadian resources are sold to the U.S., processed and sold back to us, or the U.S. companies come into Canada and take a monopoly of certain industries. So I wanted to go to market and create HiBnb before an American came into our country to do it for us.
What is your magic sauce?
Our secret sauce? The business is actually a double business. While it appears to be a tourism booking engine for accommodations and adventures/experiences/events, it is also a marketing and promotional vehicle for commercial brands and products. This diversifies and doubles the revenue streams.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We will strengthen our team and position in international markets: Africa, Latin America, Mexico, and Europe, growing revenues to support a mainstream commercial marketing campaign and enter the public market.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge, hands down, was the pandemic and how it affected the tourism and travel industry, how it changed public attitudes and practises, and how it negatively affected the economy and forced us into a recession. We are also challenged by the instability of the cannabis sector, with the public markets collapsing and the consolidation of the cannabis industry, brands are not in a position of strength to advertise. There is also the saturation of the retail market and the poor regulatory conditions affecting brands’ ability to profit, which has weakened the legal industry. This, in turn, has compromised the ability of the retail industry to partner with us.
How can people get involved?
HiBnb is growing organically and relies on the collaboration of individuals and businesses who can benefit from exposure through HiBnb to the niche market we are targeting. If you have an accommodation, destination, or experience that welcomes or would be attractive to the cannabis consumer, create a listing for it by following the prompts to “Become a Host” on www.HiBnb.ca, or if you have an ancillary business such as go-carting, VR gaming, mini golf, a fishing excursion, or any activity that stoners might like to enjoy, reach out to us at [email protected] so we can add your business to our catalogue and promote it to our network in your region or for those visiting your region.
Canada has a unique opportunity to establish itself as a destination for cannabis tourism, and it is important that we claim that title. At HiBnb, we are seeing cannabis tourism emerging in many different countries and regions. There is high demand for this type of vacation, especially for people in Asia and Europe, where regulations still prohibit the use of cannabis.
Lastly, you can help by signing up for an account at HiBnb, following us @experiencehibnb, and talking to your friends and neighbours to assist with word of mouth.
If you want to participate economically, join our Affiliate Program (accessible in the footer on our site), where we pay you 10 per cent of our gross revenues for accommodations and experiences which sign up on our site and Users who book those accommodations and experiences.
Made in CA does not endorse HiBnb or the use of cannabis products for medical or recreational purposes; this interview is merely for informational purposes. For more information about cannabis product use, speak to your medical practitioner.