With an estimated market of more than $23 billion in the United States alone, vacation rentals represent an extremely large opportunity. Some services, such as Airbnb, Onefinestay and Housetrip, attempt to offer renters the comfort of home-based vacations by allowing them to swap or rent out.
Founded in 2011 by Debbie Wosskow and Simon Walker, London-based Love Home Swap goes a step further and attempts to develop a tiered “travel club” by offering points-based swaps, connections over Facebook, and luxury services to premium members. Having reached 54,000 listings in 160 countries, the service has established itself as one of the top members-only clubs for renters.
Love Home Swap offers members the option of a straight swap with another renter, using points to stay for free in another home, or pay to rent properties that cannot be otherwise found online. The points system, which was introduced last September, allows members to list their homes and to then rent out in hopes of eventually cashing in with a free rental of their own.
As far as price is concerned, CMO Ben Wosskow tells me that there is a 14-day free trial period and then membership plans start at $204 per year. At that level, members have access to free swaps, secure messaging, and connections with other renters. Those who opt for the Silver package will end up paying $408 and have access to perks such as a personal key exchange, airport lounge passes, 50+ Hedonist travel guides, and the Trust Authentication Service.
Finally, those who are willing to shell out $816 for Platinum membership can expect access to priority listing of their properties, a personal trip-finder to help them find an ideal swap, concierge service, and a personal travel team to help making all the arrangements.
London-based MMC Ventures has acted as the main investor in Love Home Swap thus far, having invested £1 million in a round last September and £1.65 million in a pair of rounds the year before. In the summer of 2013, Love Home Swap made headlines when they acquired competitor 1stHomeExchange and tripled the number of listings offered in one fell swoop. Going forward, Wasskow tells me that the company is looking to further double their membership total over the next 12 months.