The newest entrant in the sharing economy, NightSwapping, promises you free accommodations in 160 countries. No money (or not much) needed. Think Airbnb meets Home Exchange. Instead of getting cash for hosting guests at your place, you get points. Instead of being limited to trading lodgings with only those who want to swap their house for yours, you can pick from thousands of properties worldwide. The free options include a house in Milan, a houseboat in Amsterdam, a guest room in Lisbon, a studio apartment in Munich, and a garden house in Brussels.
The system works like a cooperative; you get back what you put in. The creators call it “collaborative consumption,” at least that’s the translation of the original French website. NightSwapping is based in Lyon with offices in New York, London, and Sydney. The site’s English needs a bit of tweaking.
No matter. The idea is clear and seems like fun for those comfortable with trusting their home to strangers and borrowing someone else’s place. You can offer your entire home or just a guest bedroom when you are in residence, a good way for those unsure of the experience to start.
You accrue points for hosting based on NightSwapping’s rating of your house on a scale of 1 to 7. Their algorithm takes into account the type of accommodation—spare bedroom or mega-sized penthouse, the square footage, the comfort level, number of bedrooms, and the popularity of the area. NightSwapping then calculates your points and equivalencies. “7 nights in a Standard 3 accommodation equals 4 nights in a Standard 5 accommodation, or 10 nights in a Standard 2 accommodation.”
If you’re low on travel capital, you can buy the extra nights. The price is based on the accommodation’s rating. For example, a guest room in a Brooklyn townhouse rated 4 costs $28 per night. A lodging rated 1 costs $7 per night and a top rated 7 lodging costs $49 per night.
How does NightSwapping make money? I am not at all sure. Listings are free. Booking fees are $9.90 and users can purchase insurance to cover such things as accidentally breaking a crystal vase at your villa in Italy or your hosts cancelling.
NightSwapping opens up the travel for those on limited budgets as well as for those who prefer living like a local instead of reserving hotel rooms. What do you think? Would you try this?