At home in the world with NightSwapping
BY CLAUDIA PELZER
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 2 2015)
Authentic living in a foreign city is what more and more people are looking for wherever they go in the world. After all, staying in a furnished apartment typical of the country, makes visitors feel like a real insider and not like an “anonymous” tourist. A company that has clearly recognised this trend is Cosmopolit Home, whose new accommodation concept called “NightSwapping” has sparked enthusiasm in the globe-trotting scene.
Unlike its competitors, NightSwapping does not require money. True to the sharing principle, what is exchanged here are nights. The model is based on a virtual point system. Users who offer their own homes get as many nights credited as they hosted and can then use them worldwide. Extra nights can be booked at any time. NightSwapping is thus positioning itself in a niche between other companies such as Airbnb and Couchsurfing.
In Europe, NightSwapping is already well known. Just three years after its launch, the platform already has over 70,000 members from more than 150 countries. The number of homes listed has now exceeded the 10,000 mark. Compared with the market leader Airbnb, NightSwapping is still in its infancy but the principle of exchange rather than monetary remuneration could prove to be a convincing selling point in the long run. “Our vision for the next five years is to be a leader in the peer-to-peer travel segment. Once we have established a strong presence in Europe, we would like to internationalise. By the end of 2018, we want to host one million users on the platform,” says founder Serge Duriavig. Last summer, the team of founders secured funding of over two million euros; this should get NightSwapping a little closer to realising its projects.
Most importantly however, is that the demand for alternative travel offers is increasing constantly. Particularly for city trips, the online exchanges of the so-called sharing economy are becoming more popular. While Airbnb is already under the beady eye of the hotel industry, which has attempted to take legal action against the new competition, those offers based on non-monetary exchange are likely to be less vulnerable - without cash flow no official sublease is taking place. Use of the platform is merely subject to a small commission of currently 9.90 euros.
The NightSwapping founders are convinced that travel based on the exchange or sharing model also changes users’ attitudes. Similar to couch surfing (only with a higher standard of accommodation) or Airbnb (without cash exchange), NightSwapping leads to a more authentic travel experience with personal meetings instead of anonymous hotel rooms, believes Serge Duriavig. Once more, it looks like we have truly reached the “Age of Access,” in which access is everything and ownership is losing its importance. But what is most remarkable here, is the access to a global community that quite matter-of-factly accepts “Nights” as their new currency.
Picture credits © NightSwapping