If you’re looking for a place to rest your head during your next holiday, Nightswapping offers members the ability to find a free place to stay through a new service that’s a mix of CouchSurfing and house swapping.
Founded in December 2012 by Serge Duriavig, the idea of Nightswapping was influenced by his desire to use home exchange websites when visiting New York. However, upon listing his home in Nimes, he couldn’t find another home exchange participant who was interested in visiting his country at the given time Serge had available.
As such, Nightswapping attempts to modernize the longstanding trend of home exchanging by removing the constraint of reciprocity. In other words, instead of swapping with one single home exchange user, and limiting you both to the location and vacation dates of the other party, Nightswapping allows users to earn “Nights” by hosting others.
Serge also claims that Nightswapping users don’t face the same legal concerns as lodging powerhouse Airbnb, as Nightswapping members never exchange money.
How Nightswapping Works
Joining Nightswapping is free. Just list your home or guest room — that must have a real bed, not a couch — and invite people to stay.
There are three types of Nightswapping exchanges:
- A mutual home exchange, where you stay in another member’s home while they stay in yours
- You stay in a member’s home while they go elsewhere (or the property is otherwise empty)
- You stay in a guest room of another member’s home while they are there
Instead of paying money, each night someone stays in your home, you earn a “Night” that you can use at another member’s place. Nightswapping has created the “Night” as a virtual currency that allows for fair and equal trading of lodging, by preventing members from only experiencing the hospitality of others without hosting anyone themselves.
Each unit listed on the site is ranked from 1 to 7, based on the level of luxury and other comforts guests are afforded. Nights that you’ve earned are convertible, and the ranking of your listing can work in your favor. For example, if you earned one Night ranked at a “7”, you can convert your earned stays to seven nights at a level 1 home.
Nightswapping currently lists more than 6,000 accommodations worldwide, with 80% of available properties located in Europe, although the company is actively expanding to entice users in a wider variety of locations.
Interested members can sign up with Facebook or an email account. Just by signing up, Nightswapping credits your account with seven nights, so you start off with a little travel capital.
After signing up, list your space by providing the following information:
- Whether your listing includes the entire home or just a guest bedroom
- Your home type
- The level of comfort offered in your home, from basic and intermediate, to high and luxury
- The size of your home and how many bedrooms are available
- How many guests your home can accommodate
- The address of your home
- The popularity level of your neighborhood
After you give your listing a title, your home a brief description, and list the dates it’s available to host guests, you’ll need to indicate whether or not other Nightswappers can stay in the entire home while you’re away.
Once your listing is up and running, you’re free to search or browse other Nightswapping accommodations. You can filter by the level of comfort, if properties offer only a guest room or the entire home, and the number of guests the property can accommodate.
Based on our experience using the site, browsing through the available lodgings displays a wide variety of homes that appear very welcoming, clean, modern and enticing.
If you find a place that you’d like to visit, you can then discuss the conditions of your Nightswapping stay with the host on an inner discussion board. After your dates are confirmed, your Nightswapping contract is finalized by “paying” for the space with your available Nights.
When it’s your time to host, you can accept or deny any request that comes your way, allowing you control over who shares your space and when.
Nightswapping is free to use. However each finalized transaction with other members is charged a 10 euro fee for service (about $11.42 USD).
What About Safety When Using Nightswapping?
Are you concerned about safety?
Similar to other sites that connect travelers with hosts, each member’s profile displays feedback from other members. You can contact the other member securely through the Nightswapping inner discussion board to discuss terms and ask additional questions.
The screening process includes photo, address, and telephone verification, as well as “city ambassadors” in main cities who can stop by your home. In addition, Nightswapping formalizes every exchange with a contract and offers a variety of insurance solutions to cover most issues that could arise.
If you’ve planned a trip and haven’t quite earned all the Nights you need to cover lodging, members can purchase the additional Nights you need at rates ranging from $20 to $120/night.
What People Are Saying About Nightswapping
There are not many available user or customer reviews at this time, but there are different blogs and publications that have expressed excitement over the potential offered by Nightswapping.com.
Competitors include Airbnd.com, HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, and many others that offer a traditional renting format, but do not offer the ability to swap.
My Take on Nightswapping
When asked if any members had expressed concerns, Serge replied that he has been asked “what if our belongings are stolen?” or “what if it's not clean when the guests leave?” His response is that the people on Nightswapping’s platform are all there for the same reason: to lodge for free and to have a local experience when traveling. Serge says that this means all members all have the same values and will treat your home like it's their own, and with respect.
While that sounds brilliant, Airbnb started with a similar philosophy and has endured three major media scandals after host’s homes were brutally abused, and one incident where guests refused to leave. Airbnb has learned to deal with these issues gracefully by offering hosts a great amount of support.
While Nightswapping may very well set themselves up to do the same, I believe it is naive to assume that simply because other members are like-minded in their appreciation of travel, that they will treat your space and belongings with the respect that you require.
An additional quandary is that, while some of the homes listed on Nightswapping look appealing enough that I would even pay to stay there, the money I might spend purchasing Nights to do so does not go to my host — although they are earning the “compensation” of nights at another lodging of their choosing.
5 out 5 people found this review helpful
NightSwapping is at the moment my favorite traveling concept
NightSwapping is at the moment my favorite traveling concept. I mention them as my best Nomadic Accomodation on my blog (BikeTravelTheater org).
It's a community that is between Airbnb and Couchsurfing. They have the non-money based system of Couchsurfing, but the professional interface and privacy (as guest) of Airbnb. When you host someone you get credits (nights) instead of money, which you can use to travel. It's a really convenient system because it's more peer-to-peer than any other money based platform, and makes it more community based. You are not even required to make any bureaucracy or tax declaration of course, because you are getting paid. To match guest and host, they even recently introduced a "swiping" system, where you can like or dislike a potential interested person, this makes it quite fast to choose.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend