Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A true ‘sharing’ economy for accommodations

Kudos to the person who coined the term "the sharing economy.” It is brilliant. It evokes all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings (in kindergarten, we all learned that sharing was a nice thing to do) while simultaneously distancing itself from the alleged avarice and greed of what might be called the “corporate economy.”

The trouble is, it is total marketing hype.

In actual fact, people who drive Uber or Lyft cars or list their properties on AirBNB or VRBO aren’t “sharing” anything; they are selling a product or service just as surely as Yellow Cab or Hilton Hotels sells a product or service.

NIGHTSWAPPING
Now, though, there is a service that more closely aligns with the true spirit of sharing: NightSwapping.com. Through this service, members offer a guest room, guesthouse, or complete house or apartment to a traveler and, in exchange, receive credit they can redeem for nights in other members’ accommodations. No money changes hands between the guest and the host, so it more closely resembles actual sharing.

There are details, of course. Accommodations are assigned a grade by the NightSwapping team based on several criteria: the location’s appeal as a tourist destination, whether the listing on the NightSwapping website is completed, and the reactivity of the host on the NightSwapping platform. Guest rooms can be rated one, two or three, while entire homes can earn ratings from four to seven.

“These nights are used as a virtual currency and allow you to then be hosted for free by other members on our platform, worldwide,” Marc Caussanel, a member service rep for NightSwapping told TheTravelPro in an email.

Travelers who are new to the platform, have not accumulated enough nights or unable to host can purchase the nights from NightSwapping for a price ranging from €7 to €49 per night depending on the standing of the guest room or home the traveler wishes to book. The price is the same regardless of whether the person is traveling solo or is part of a group, though occupancy limits will apply and will vary by accommodation.

While no money changes hands between host and guest, travelers are also charged a reservation fee of approximately €10 per reservation.

Because of the personal nature of the transaction, NightSwapping members review not only the accommodations but their hosts and guests as well so all parties can get a sense of who they will be interacting with, or perhaps choose not to “rent” to or from a particular individual.

Whether NightSwapping.com will succeed and on what scale remains to be seen, but if you are a traveler who is a bit on the adventurous side or prefer to personal interaction of this type of travel, it might be worth investigating.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

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