Luxe Home Swap: Trading Spaces for Vacations in Style
"Luxe" doesn't have to mean luxury, believes Debbie Wosskow, who came up with the idea of Luxe Home Swap. Wasskow was tired of spending 80% of her travel budget on her hotel stays and tested out the main home exchange sites. When she posted her home in Central London on a few sites, she was bombarded with inquiries from others whose homes weren't what she was asking for in exchange -- in some cases, the wrong size, wrong location, and even the wrong continent..
Her recently launched web site for Luxe Home Swap is member-driven and lets clients make their own deals It costs $159 a year to list as many homes as you own and wish to include and you can swap as often as you wish within the year. If you haven't completed a swap within the first year, the second year's membership is free.
Two of the trends Luxe Home Swap is seeing, said Wosskow, are "asymmetrical" swaps -- 10 days in your condo for 7 nights in my beach home -- and "non-simultaneous" swaps -- you come in October and I'll use your home in June.
"It's totally up to our members to work out the details with each other and they're completely free to arrange swaps however they wish," she said. Flexibility is what distinguishes this site from the others, she said.
There are already 500 members on the site, some with multiple homes. More homes are being added each week as the site continues its roll-out in key markets. They already have homes from around the world, including Moscow, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Marrakesh and Brisbane.
There are also advanced search features offered, such as allowing members to filter homes interested in swapping with where they are based and giving members full personal support via a member concierge team.
The site is checked daily to remove any homes that don't fit with the quality of the other properties on the site, although none have actually been removed thus far, Wosskow said. "The process tends to be self-selecting as people take a look at the homes on the site and make a judgment on whether LHS is the site for them," she added.
Members finalize a swap after screening one another -- just like online dating -- typically exchanging 20 or more messages nailing down the details. The site provides them with a secure messaging system to communicate with one another and a digital contract to secure the exchange.