Accommodation-sharing platforms can host hundreds and thousands of housing options
Renting an apartment or couch surfing is a great solution for frequent travellers. While most vacation rental companies own less than 20 properties (VRMA), accommodation-sharing platforms can host hundreds and thousands of housing options.
In 2018, 75% of vacation rental bookings were made on booking sites like Airbnb, HomeAway, or TripAdvisor (Hostfully). In 2017, over 250,000 organisations used Airbnb for their corporate travel (Bloomberg). When homeowners are ready to provide at least basic room services during the longer stays (e.g. changing linen and towels, some housekeeping, laundry & dining facilities), travellers of all kinds prefer private accommodation to hotel chains. The German Business Travel Association (VDR), reports about 6 million overnight stays in serviced apartments per year in Germany alone.
As you can see, accommodation sharing is extremely popular. Hence, we have prepared a list of the top online platforms working in this sector.
Top 8 accommodation-sharing platforms
The obvious leader and game-changer of the sharing economy has hosted 400 million guests since its launch. It is currently offering over 7 million accommodation listings and 40,000 handcrafted activities powered by local hosts across 191 countries and regions. Last year it launched Airbnb Plus, upscale listings that include a set of amenities typically found in a hotel.
Onefinestay presents the luxury side of the sharing market and makes private rentals more hotel-like. For instance, the company replaces each homeowner’s linens and towels with deluxe versions and supplies high-end soaps and shampoos. A staff member greets guests as a concierge, removing any encounter between owner and renter. The company chooses its properties according to their highest standards so that the homes are uniformly clean, well-situated and visually interesting (rates start around $250 a night and most properties have a minimum stay of four or more days).
HomeAway is one of the main competitors to Airbnb. The company is now owned by Expedia and may be subsumed under the Vrbo brand in the near future. The website includes over 1 million properties in 190 countries with the largest number of properties in Europe and North America.
Couchsurfing is a good resource for budget travellers who wish to embrace local realities from within. The website allows you to connect with a local person who has a spare bed, couch, room, or apartment and they let you stay for free. Some hosts may ask you to share something about your culture like teaching them to cook your national dishes. Such informal paybacks are a sign of gratitude and cultural exchange. Ideally, you become the part of Couchsurfing community, and return the favour, hosting people coming to your own hometown.
Homestay offers hosted experiences in rental rooms for those who want to actually meet the properties’ owners and get some help from them. All their stays include breakfast. Homestay may not have millions of listings, but it’s present in over 160 countries. Properties are more concentrated in Europe (particularly the UK) and major cities worldwide (Los Angeles, London, Sydney, Paris). The filter features will help you find the perfect host family. Whether you want to borrow a bike, have full access to the kitchen, or have someone guide you to stunning attractions away from the usual tourist tracks, there’s a perfect host or family for you. Its shared stays average $29 a night in Europe and $32 in the United States.
Home Exchange is a house-swapping service popular in Europe. Their listings include 400,000 accommodations in 187 countries of the world. Members pay $150 per year for an unlimited number of home exchanges. The exchange doesn’t have to be reciprocal. You can stay at a member’s home and you won’t need to have them stay at yours. Instead, you just transfer your GuestPoints to them so that they can use them to stay at another member’s home.
Mister B&B appeals to gay travellers with shared home listings in over 130 countries, and hold “meet-ups” in various cities to connect with like-minded travellers. Despite the worldwide appeals to appreciate diversity, many minority groups still face discrimination both in their homeland and while travelling. Creating a safe accommodation-sharing network is priceless for the LGBTQ community.
Noirbnb is another fresh startup aiming to create a global travel community that provides experiences and events with a focus on including and celebrating travellers of color.