International House Swapping Can Become Go-To Travel Option
Only a few years ago, Airbnb took the lodging industry by surprise when it enabled people with a spare room to rent directly to travelers. The model spawned numerous imitators and spinoffs, and remains one of the most successful Internet startups of the past decade.
MyTwinPlace is one of those spinoffs, an innovative approach that connects people interested in house swapping. Members can join as travelers, hosts or both.
Travelers can browse the member rolls by location and available dates, then arrange payment to stay in the house they like best. Process-wise, this works almost exactly like booking a room via Airbnb or a hotel aggregator like Agoda
Hosts create a profile for their homes, and earn free stays at other hosts’ places when they go on vacation
The system is based on points, which are set by the owners but guided by general notes based on size, neighborhood and amenities like a hot tub or proximity to popular sites and public transportation.
The site addresses a variety of concerns for people on vacation. It puts somebody (reasonably) trustworthy in their homes so they needn’t worry about burglars or fire while they’re gone. It makes travel more accessible to those on a budget, potentially saving thousands in lodging expenses as compared to booking a hotel room for a family. It also makes for a better story, since “Our stay in this funky little house with a pool in a charming neighborhood of Barcelona” is objectively more interesting than “Our stay at the Holiday Inn two miles from the airport.”
As of March, 2015, the site is in its second year of operations and has several thousand listings across all seven continents, though some areas have richer pickings than others. For example, New York City has several dozen options, while Beijing has just one. Pickings are also slim if you move outside the major metro areas and tourist destinations.