LoveHomeSwap is one of the house swap networks that offers points-based exchanges. They recently rolled out a new offer to some members called Instant Booking. It looks like LoveHomeSwap is trying to move home exchange in the direction of AirBnb, with pre-approved booking dates and dynamic pricing.
This system is only being offered to select members. I didn’t get the offer, but a reader tipped me off and sent me screen shots. The only thing we can figure is maybe it’s (initially?) just for people with second homes. That’s the most significant difference between this reader and I.
As this reader explained:
LoveHomeSwap, like HomeExchange, is shifting the home swap experience to closely resemble Airbnb/VRBO. They’ve always had points (given generously to new members and available for purchase), but today when I signed in, I was whisked to a page encouraging me to sign up for the new “Instant.”
With “Instant,” I can receive points just for making calendar dates available for “instant booking” (even if nobody stays). I can “Swap in seconds. No need to hang around. Chat later.” I get an exclusive algorithm which will adjust my home’s points value (out of my control)– depending on features, location, and the popularity of the dates. I get an “exclusive search filter” ( if it follows the VRBO/Airbnb model, Instant homes will be pushed to the forefront of searches).
Members are given 48 hours to decline a swap once it’s booked, but imagine the awkwardness. I already received the points, agreed to make the dates available…and you “booked” it with the free points you got at sign up. Now I’ve got two days to decide if I trust you enough to give you the keys to my house and access to almost every single thing I own. Nope.
To incentivize people to sign up for Instant, LoveHomeSwap is giving out points just for listing available dates in the Instant calendar.
This is reminiscent of when LoveHomeSwap first launched their points system. They gave out points for listing availability to get people started using points-based swapping. Of course I quickly listed all of my available travel dates. I came away with a nice pool of points to use for future bookings. To be fair, I ended up hosting some people too, and was an active participant in the community for a while. So with people like me, this incentive did lead to participation in the new system. But it’s important to keep in mind that people could sign up for these opportunities and spend their points without ever hosting anyone.
The dates added to an Instant calendar on LoveHomeSwap are only available to be booked by other Instant members. Instant members get a special search function that allows them to search others in this group.
Another feature of the Instant system the calculation of your home’s points value based on a “clever algorithm” that accounts for features, location and time of year. Basically they will automatically raise your points value during popular times of year. This sounds like the tools (i.e. Beyond Pricing) that Airbnb hosts use to set their pricing dynamically to ensure they get maximum revenue.
All Instant bookings are assumed to be approved. Hosts can still decline a stay within 48 hours of booking, but they have to email LoveHomeSwap to request that the booking be cancelled. Many people are familiar with how unhelpful LHS customer service has been with cancelling memberships and other services they don’t want to facilitate. So this sounds like a risky proposition if you aren’t ok with letting people book a stay in your home without first interacting with them.