Peer-to-peer pioneer HomeExchange forecasts doubling the size of its business in the coming years, thanks to the latest technology and increased profile the sector has received from Airbnb.
The US based holiday home swap site was established pre the internet in 1992, but moved online in the late 90s ditching its old printed directory.
Speaking to Travolution at last week’s Phocuswright conference in Los Angeles founder Ed Kushins said the entry into the sector of Airbnb has been really positive.
“They have done an amazing job of getting people to think about using other people’s homes for their holidays,” he said.
“Minds are now open to that kind of experience and for that reason they are more open to home exchange.”
HomeExchange operates a simple model under which homeowners list their property on the site for an annual subscription of $100. A premium $500 listing is also available.
They then use the platform to put our requests for home stays and to receive inquiries about their home.
The company was the inspiration for the 2006 film The Holiday, starring Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jack Black.
As in the film, homeowners listed on the site arrange to swap homes for an agreed period and can agree to as many swaps as they like during the year. The average is around two or three per year.
HomeExchange now has 55,000 properties listed, with around 30% in the US and the same number in Europe.
Kushins said the drive for more authentic “live like a local” experiences has driven interest in the site from homeowners.
He said the site has seen a steady 20% to 25% growth rate in recent years, but that this is forecast to jump to 100% over the next couple of years.
“A lot of it is to do with new technologies to improve conversion and retention,” Kushins said. “Almost everything comes down to personalisation – technology that allow unobtrusive personalisation, welcome personalisation.
“If you log in from London you are going to get a totally different experience than if you log in from New York. We are going to show you people who want to go there. We know because they have searched for there.
“We know if you are looking for a certain destination, so we will present the right options. When a new listing from that destinations comes on we will send you an update as a service. Instead of the old fashioned search we do a lot of that for you.”
The site will also present alternative options based on what is known about the kind of activities the person searching for a home swap is interested in, like skiing or surfing.