Hospitality lodging

Holiday Swap: fake listings or bad vetting?

holiday swap

I wrote about Holiday Swap, a hospitality network, deactivating my listing last month. I was happy about this. It’s a good thing when companies are diligent about making sure home listings are legitimate. A hospitality exchange network is only as good as its listings.

After I got my account fully reinstated I did some more browsing on the app. And I found that the vast majority of the listings are suspiciously odd.

A few look like real homes of real people. But the rest have pictures that are just not realistic. I’d estimate more than 50% of the listings have the same three pictures, which show very little of the home.

  1. A bed without any bedding, just a mattress, in an empty room.
  2. a shot of a toilet or sink or radiator in the bathroom.
  3. a picture of a kitchen counter with a few cabinets and maybe the sink.

When people are trying to show off their homes, these are not the pictures they take.

This house in Madrid isn’t exactly selling itself to me. These pictures are very similar to those displayed on many listings.


These three pictures for a home in Toronto include a description that sounds fabulous, but the images don’t match.

More examples of the types of bed pictures throughout Holiday Swap


Those bed pictures are generally paired with a shot of a toilet or radiator in the bathroom, an uninviting kitchen, or a brick wall.

There are also a few listings with just a picture of a person. One looked like a sex solicitation but others may have been honest mistakes by someone confused about what to upload. Still, suspicious because my listing was inactivated with a real picture from my home, and Holiday Swap refused to re-activate it until I added more pictures of my home.

It’s also interesting that Holiday Swap shows me listings from so many countries around the world. Hopefully that’s an algorithm they’ve put in place to entice me to travel everywhere. It’s impressive how many homes are from far flung places across the globe. But it’s also more than a little surprising for such a new network. Perhaps the founders have friends in Estonia, Hong Kong, the Comoros, Kyrgystan, Armenia, Cyprus, Hyderabad, Macau and Poland. That’s just a small sampling of the homes displayed to me in the first 50 or so I browsed through.

I don’t think this place is really a home, much less available for hosted stays

I want Holiday Swap to succeed. I think hospitality networks are a great concept, and this one clearly has some solid funding and is building decent tech behind the scenes. And perhaps most importantly, they have a good in to the media, as is evidenced by the press coverage they’ve already scored. But I don’t want them to succeed by misleading people about the size of the Holiday Swap network.

In 2017 ASA, the UK advertising standards organization, ruled that the LoveHomeSwap home exchange network was grossly overstating their membership in their advertising. I hope Holiday Swap isn’t engaging in similar shenanigans to inflate their numbers and entice new members under false pretenses.

I’ve reached out to Holiday Swap a few times to ask for an interview, but so far there’s been no response. Hopefully I’m wrong about these listings mostly being fake. Holiday Swap claims to have 10,000+ properties in 172 countries.

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