We spoke to GuestToGuest, the people connecting a worldwide community of home-swappers.
1. Tell us the story of how GuestToGuest began
GuesttoGuest was founded in 2011 by Emmanuel Arnaud. A frequent home exchanger himself, Emmanuel had the idea to invent a more innovative approach to home exchange after a failed attempt at organising a house swap for a family trip to Florence, Italy. Emmanuel realised that the traditional home exchange model was not taking full advantage of today’s technology and could be improved upon through the implementation of a points system and different paid services (ex. Insurance).
Thanks to the help of the first 22 families that joined our network and a few angel investors, Emmanuel was able obtain the funds he needed to begin his home exchange revolution.
2. How does your platform work?
The GuesttoGuest platform is a social community of home exchangers from all over the world. Members join by adding information about themselves and their homes. Once a member has finished completing their profile our algorithm will assign their home a nightly GuestPoint value. Members can earn GuestPoints when they host and then use those GuestPoints to travel within the GuesttoGuest network of home exchangers.
3. How does GuesttoGuest evaluate the worth of your home?
A home’s nightly GuestPoint value is calculated based on several different factors. Our algorithm takes into consideration the home’s location, guest capacity, and all the extra amenities that the home might have (ex. pool, jacuzzi, terrace, etc…).
4. Trust and security are some of the most prevailing challenges of the sharing economy. How does GuesttoGuest deal with these issues?
GuestToGuest realises that building a network of trust is a key part of any sharing community, especially in a community of home exchangers. To help foster trust amongst our members we created a series of optional services that help boost member confidence.
- Verification: A service by which a member can pay 25EUR to have their identity and home address verified by the GuesttoGuest team.
- Security Deposit: Hosts can include a security deposit in their exchange agreement to protect against minor damages. The Guest will pay a commission of 3.5% of the deposit amount and GuesttoGuest will hold the deposit for the host until after the exchange is completed.
- Insurance: Hosts can also require their guests to take out a short-term insurance policy, which will cover more costly damages. Every host can select insurance as either a mandatory or optional request for their guests.
Apart from these added services, GuesttoGuest encourages its members to communicate amongst each other as much possible before an exchange. We really want our members to get to know one another and form a connection. For first time exchangers, or seasoned home exchangers who need assistance, we have an amazing Happiness Team that is always ready to answer questions and lend a hand whenever possible.
5. The online hospitality service industry has boomed in recent years. What sets GuesttoGuest apart from the rest of the crowd?
The major difference between GuesttoGuest and other online hospitality companies is our mission: Make travel safe, flexible and affordable for everyone!
Unlike other home exchange companies or other hospitality providers, our mission is to empower our members and anyone that joins to get out there and explore the world. We don’t have restrictive entrance fees or annual subscription costs. Our members only ever need to pay if their host requests an insurance policy or security deposit for finalising an exchange. No matter your age, family size or financial status, GuesttoGuest wants you to enjoy the experience of travel.
6. What are the benefits of using GuesttoGuest compared to traditional hotels etc?
Travelling with GuesttoGuest offers many advantages that hotels just can’t compete with. For starters, you save and you save big. Imagine travelling to a foreign destination and have all the comforts of your own home. Don’t feel like eating out? Cook a nice family meal. Don’t want to spend a fortune washing clothes? Use the washer and dryer of your host. These little expenses add up, but organising a home exchange lets you avoid all those extra expenditures and makes family travel affordable.
The other major difference between a hotel and home exchange is the experience. Staying at a hotel cuts you off from the local lifestyle. Travel should be a cultural and learning experience for the entire family. You should return home from your vacation with more than just the free hotel soap.
7. What are GuesttoGuest’s plans for the future?
We plan on growing our network of home exchangers, especially in high-demand cities like London. We want to reach the 1-million-member mark within the next 2 years. We already took home exchange into the 21st century and now we want to make it the number one travel option of all travellers.
8. What’s your favourite holiday story through GuesttoGuest?
There are too many stories to tell. Almost every day we have members writing to us about their recent home exchanges and how they found GuesttoGuest. We have retirees that tell us about their trips to go visit their children and grandchildren all around the world. We have families that tell us about their home exchange travels to the other side of the world. Our blog is full of these stories, so check it out if you want to share in the home exchange fun.