This is an update to my July review of NightSwapping
Review date: February 2016
Founded in 2011
Free membership, €9.90 per swap
Founded in France, venture funding backed
English, French, Spanish, Italian
150,000 members in 160 countries (reported by website, unverified)
Summary: NightSwapping offers a unique system of home exchange that combines hosted and unhosted points-based swaps. With the option to purchase nights instead of hosting guests, this website may meet the needs of people who don’t want to host strangers in their home, but do want to enjoy cheap lodging in the homes of locals while traveling. In many ways NightSwapping is targeting a different crowd entirely from the traditional home exchange folks. While the site can be used for simultaneous swaps, the points system is not set up to facilitate these arrangements.
Searching: NightSwapping recently totally revamped their website to be based on a mobile design. They have set up home exchange a lot like popular dating sites, presenting you with one option at a time and requiring you to swipe right or left depending on your interest in the place. If you are a registered host you can narrow the search down to a specific place you want to visit, on specific dates. If not you can still search but you can not select the destination, and you will be presented the option to pay for lodging only.
When results of your search are displayed you browse through the options one at a time, and if you swipe right (liking a place) they are notified of your interest. I personally would prefer to assess my options first before deciding who I want to contact, but perhaps this new approach will work for some people.
When I did a “surprise me” search (I’m not a registered host on this site) all the options presented to me were in Italy or France. It seems likely, given that the site was founded in France, that the majority of members are in this region.
In theory users keep their calendars up to date with hosting availability so that date bounded searches only return available properties. Based on my experience having my membership deactivated, the staff at NightSwapping seem to be diligent about ensuring that listings are active and available to host, potentially improving the odds of finding a match for your lodging needs.
Listings: Search results return listings with overview information about the properties in an easy to read format, but NightSwapping does not offer much detail on each property, it’s up to the members to write a few sentences describing whatever they think is relevant. Amenities such as availability of wifi, parking, and other features are not included. The “cost” of each property is indicated on a scale of 1 to 7 which is calculated based on the NightSwapping algorithm using 5 criteria: “the type of the accommodation, the surface area, the level of comfort, the number of bedrooms available as well as the popularity of of the area.”
This site offers the following variations on house swapping:
- NightSwapping – earn points by letting people stay in your home when you are away or home, redeem these points to stay anywhere you like. Some people will host visitors in a spare room (which costs fewer nightswap points) and some will make their entire home available.
The website is not set up to facilitate simultaneous home exchanges. But you can definitely earn points while you’re out of town traveling, potentially spending those points somewhere else at the same time.
Site design: Modern look and feel with good responsiveness but not enough features in the search and listings. I also find it difficult to locate help or details about the site or the exchange system. In streamlining the look and feel NightSwapping has removed FAQs and even the help section of their blog is now just routing to an error page.
Additional features: NightSwapping automatically provides insurance for both hosts and travelers. In addition, if you have not earned enough points to stay somewhere, or for those who do not want to list their home, you can purchase points. The price of a night varies based on the luxury level of your chosen accommodation, with most properties in popular tourist destinations like San Francisco and Paris ranging from $25 to $48 per night. This is generally cheaper than rental properties and makes NightSwapping an interesting option for people who don’t want to host guests but do want the experience of staying in local homes while traveling.