Rental lodging

Nightswapping Pivots from Home Exchange to Rental Lodging

The Nightswapping home exchange network has pivoted into a peer-to-peer rental lodging network. They still claim to offer home exchanges. But the entire system is based on paying money for lodging and there’s little resembling house swapping remaining. As a result I’ve removed Nightswapping from my home exchange network spreadsheet and instead added them into my list of peer-to-peer rental lodging businesses.

For more history on the home exchange services Nightswapping offered up until 2016 you can read my old reviews of the network. They never gained significant traction, with only about 5000 active listings. And since making a listing was free, even this number is probably a significant over count of real activity. So this pivot might be a good business plan.

However, Nightswapping is starting to look like an imitation of the Airbnb concept but with some more confusing features and a less functional website. I’m not seeing much incentive for people to use this network over the larger peer to peer rental businesses. The main thing I like: Nightswapping is offering a smart incentive for travelers. Travelers get 5% back in the form of credit towards future stays. It’s basically a loyalty program to encourage people to continue renting through Nightswapping. But that’s the only really unique thing I see on the network.

Nightswapping is carrying on in the legacy of their misleading home swap network claims, still maintaining that they have a huge membership.

Misleading claim on the Nightswapping website

That number probably counts all people who have ever created a free account on the Nightswapping website. In reality they have 5,711 active listings right now. And as I’ll explain below, I suspect many of those aren’t really active in the new peer-to-peer rental system.

Out of their 5,711 active listings, Nightswapping shows many with surprisingly low prices. To be fair, many of them are rooms in a home, not rentals of the entire flat. But the prices definitely don’t reflect what people could charge on other networks like Airbnb.  I suspect that these prices were set automatically by Nightswapping and the members aren’t active on the network. For instance, my entire home (a listing that is not public) is priced at $42/night. I didn’t set that price. Some people whose listings were active when Nightswapping pivoted to rentals probably ended up with default pricing on public listings.

I did a few searches on places I’m familiar with rental prices. The results bolstered my theory that many listings on Nightswapping may not be active. A number of the rentals for 1 room in London were priced at $27. Too much of a coincidence to be random. I found an entire 2 bedroom flat available in the center of Paris for $52. I also found a 3 bedroom cottage on the ocean in southern California listed for $48 per night. These prices are significantly cheaper than anything available on Airbnb. Perhaps this reflects a lower quality of listing on Nightswapping. But it’s more likely that only listings priced close to market rates are truly active members.

I sent out some inquiries to places that look nice and are priced low. One was closed by Nightswapping after just a few days with the message “this discussion looks inactive.” And another was rejected by the host telling me his place isn’t available for rent. Not a large sample, but some random data points.

If you’re looking for peer-to-peer rentals, Nightswapping is now a new option. Hopefully they will develop some innovative features to distinguish themselves from so many other businesses in this space.