As of 2019 Guest to Guest will no longer offer entirely free home exchanges. The network will still be free to join, but there will be a mandatory 10€ per night fee for all exchanges. For this fee exchangers and hosts will get insurance, cancellation protection and emergency assistance.
While this sounds like a big change, Guest to Guest has long offered insurance for exchanges. And according to them, only 10% of users decline this entirely. So most swappers are paying for each exchange, probably an amount close to what this new system will cost them. The main change here is for the 10% of members who were doing house swaps without insurance. That won’t be an option any longer.
I’m of a split opinion on this. On the one hand, Guest to Guest needs to make money to keep running their home exchange network. And if they want to keep the network free to join, G2G has to come up with other ways to get generate revenue. But I really liked that my swaps on G2G could be entirely free, and I don’t need think insurance is needed for home exchanges, so for me this is a negative change.
But most free things aren’t really free. Someone has to pay for all the staff and infrastructure at Guest to Guest. At least with this system members only pay when they actually have an exchange.
Service Plus Insurance details
The new Guest to Guest insurance plan is called Service Plus. As of July 25, Guest to Guest house swappers can opt to pay 10€ per night to add on this insurance. Starting in 2019 this insurance fee will be mandatory. Service Plus provides:
- Cancellation protection: Up to 700€ per week if Guest to Guest can’t find a replacement home swap
- Compliance guarantee: If you swap home doesn’t match the description they will provide an alternative solution
- Damage and theft protection: Up to 500,000€ to cover damages and theft at the host property
- Emergency assistance: 24/7 personal assistance
In the case of accidental damage the member doing the damage still has to pay a 100€ deductible.
As an alternative to paying 10€ per night, Guest to Guest will launch a premium membership service this fall, which will include Service Plus for a year of unlimited exchanges. This will cost 130€ per year. If you anticipate doing more than 13 days of swaps in a year, this is obviously a better value.
What has changed?
Previously Guest to Guest offered several insurance options with varying levels of house swap coverage, as well as a security deposit option. This new insurance is replacing all of that. This means swappers no longer have the flexibility to choose the level of coverage they want. In the past I always asked my Guest to Guest hosts to either remove the insurance requirement or lower it to the lowest cost option. I offer my many good reviews and long history swapping as evidence that I’m not a risky guest. And they have all agreed to at least set the cost to the lowest option. In fact most didn’t even know they had selected insurance as a requirement. I’m losing this ability to negotiate down my costs. Until the end of this year I can at least ask that the insurance requirement be removed. In 2019 that won’t be an option.
Overall this is a significant simplification of insurance by Guest to Guest. That’s nice because I think the previous system was overly complicated, and the insurance and deposit were redundant. However, this new insurance offering appears to be an increase in price and a decrease in coverage for members. Paying 7€ per night previously you would get up to 700€ per week in cancellation protection and quite a lot more damage and theft protection. And in the past you could double that cancellation protection by paying 13€ per day. I don’t actually think that 500,000€ or even more is needed for damage and theft insurance for home exchange. So I’m not too concerned that this number is lower. But 700€ per week won’t pay for a decent hotel in most cities, especially for large families. So for folks really worried about cancellations this isn’t great coverage.
Overall I think Guest to Guest has an interesting business model. And this new insurance offering is a logical continuation of the previous optional insurance system. It allows Guest to Guest to maintain free membership while charging a fee for each swap, but offering something of real value in exchange for that fee: a higher level of service and security. In the end it costs money to run a home exchange business. Many G2G members are unhappy with this new insurance offering because it is mandatory. But I can’t think of another fee-based service Guest to Guest could offer that would provide value beyond the exchange itself. Even with the paid insurance, home exchange trips will still be quite a bit cheaper than any alternative lodging.