The Geenee team announced the shuttering of their network this month:
It is with deep disappointment that I announce that we will be closing the Geenee home exchange business. Due to the unprecedented pressures from COVID-19, we are unable to continue to offer our services. We would like to thank all members for their support over the last number of years. If you need to contact us, you will be able to email us on [email protected] for a short while. We wish you all the best for your future travel adventures.
Geenee was one of those home swap networks I couldn’t figure out. Founded in 2006, Geenee appeared to be quite big. They claimed 17,800 listings! But as a free network, a lot of those listings were inactive. I tried to work out how many listings were active but, as you can read in my review of the network, the Geenee team couldn’t offer much insight. In reality, I think they didn’t know. This was a husband and wife team project, and it certainly wasn’t earning them any money.
Free networks are a great way to recruit new members. And some people argue that home exchange should be free because that’s the home exchange ethos. But there are some problems with that idea. First, free networks need to proactively remove, hide, or cancel accounts of inactive members. This is easy enough when people pay an annual fee, but requires much more work without a fee. And where will that work come from? How will the folks doing all set up, maintenance, and improvements on a free network will finance their work? Even if the labor is all volunteer there are expenses like paying for web hosting.
I’m just speculating, but I think Geenee suffered from the lack of a fee. I suspect the project was sidelined by people needing to focus on earning a living. And so the network’s membership just kept shrinking. Not much incentive to continue once the pandemic hit and those who remained were forced to stop traveling.
If you’re looking for a home swap network to join, check out my spreadsheet comparing all the networks.