New online sharing platforms promise cheaper holidays | Travel

Lince before Airbnb became a household name, I was already using the “sharing economy” – booking directly with B&B and independent home owners. I would find them on forums, via word of mouth or on some internet rental pioneers like CouchSurfing (couchsurfing.fr) and VRBO (vrbo.com).

Then Airbnb (airbnb.com) took what was a niche business among travelers and brought the sharing economy – also known as peer-to-peer marketplaces – into the mainstream. While some predicted Covid would kill the trend as people opted for more sterile environments, the opposite happened; the cost of living is blowing up peer-to-peer platforms,

Over the past six months, carpooling company BlaBlaCar (blablacar.co.uk) saw an 80 percent increase in European bookings, while peer-to-peer motorhome site Goboony (goboony.co.uk) saw twice as many bookings in the UK and Europe in the first quarter of 2022 than in 2019. North American gear-sharing platform FriendWithA (amiaveca.com) has seen bookings increase by 700% since February 2020.

Try Click & Boat to find a rental

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why it works

The sharing economy is here to stay for the simple reason that it is generally much cheaper and often easier than its traditional counterparts.

Estelle Wilkinson, who runs the charity Lucky’s Legacy Rescue in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, is now a big fan of motorhomes after her recent experience with Goboony.

“We were able to converse with the owner of the campervan which we thought was very personal, but having Goboony as a go-between gave us the reassurance that if anything went wrong we would have someone to contact “, she says. “The process was so simple, it changed our mindset about vacations.”

Natalie Quail, who owns oral cosmetics company SmileTime and lives in London, had an exceptionally happy experience on her one-day yacht charter in Barcelona with Click & Boat (clickandboat.com).

Save money on RV rentals by dealing directly with owners

Save money on RV rentals by dealing directly with owners

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“I’ve dealt with boat rental companies before, and you have to call, and then they take a while to get back to you and send you pictures,” she explains. “But with Click & Boat you can see photos, availability and reviews much easier and faster. My husband, Nick, and I got engaged on the yacht we rented in Barcelona. We had never used it before but had an amazing time and our skipper was brilliant.”

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Tent sharing (tentpartage.fr) was launched in the UK by Rebecca Heaps in 2020, and she thinks price isn’t the only reason more people are opting for peer-to-peer platforms.

“The Tentshare community helps reduce consumption and waste while contributing to the local and circular economy,” says Heaps. “The sharing economy offers a solution using the resources we already have, because ‘use intensity’ reduces your individual carbon footprint and means unloved items can be used rather than going to landfill. .” And that’s as true for cars and RVs as it is for tents and kayaks.

Some platforms offer insurance for guests

Some platforms offer insurance for guests

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Potential pitfalls

The savings you get from using peer-to-peer platforms come with risk, however, as I learned when I stayed in the room of a beautiful rooftop guesthouse in Antwerp – which was listed without mentioning that she was on top of a legal brothel. Or the roughly affordable house in the Hamptons, New York, where we arrived to find the tap water smelling like raw sewage.

Claim yourself with the platform you booked with, and while they sometimes offer a refund if you leave straight away, you’re faced with the prospect of packing your bags and finding accommodation in a place you don’t know at exorbitant prices at the 11th hour. .

Nor am I the only one with a horror story about the sharing economy.

Nicola Wordsworth, owner of Pup Suds, an eco-dog brand in Birchington, Kent, tried a peer-to-peer motorhome rig last summer because she had vehicles near her that allowed his dog, Bertie, to board. “Our motorhome had great pictures and great reviews. But in real life it was scruffy, dirty and the side mirrors, floor, table, chairs and even the ‘full tank’ warning of the chemical toilets were all broken.

Besides potentially finding out that you’re not getting what you thought you paid for, there are other issues to consider, including security.

How can you be sure the owner won’t use his key to get into your boat or take your things while you’re away? Be aware that most travel insurance policies and government legislation offer better protection when making reservations using traditional options, such as travel agencies.

Take the sewage from my house in the Hamptons. My travel insurance would not cover the cost of my moving to another accommodation, as I had made a private booking. We had to shower with our mouths closed to avoid swallowing water and pay for bottled water to brush our teeth and make tea.

How to reduce the risks

Some platforms now offer insurance for guests, but check the details carefully as you might be better off trying to find your own. Before booking a standard policy, check that it will cover your sharing economy booking. Ask an insurer to email terms and conditions before you pay, rather than just speaking to an agent over the phone.

If you’re worried that the reviews are all a bit too glowing, which could indicate that the platform is suppressing negative reviews, try a Google reverse image search. Open Google, click Images, then upload an image you downloaded from a site’s listing in the search bar. This will show you where that image appears online and can help you discover more reviews for a potential item or property.

It’s also worth talking to the owner as much as possible on the platform’s messaging system and being clear about your needs. A wonderful apartment on the seventh floor may not always have an elevator (as I discovered on my trip to Berlin) or may be on the busiest road in the city, so ask about everything which could hamper your experience.

7 of the Best Sharing Economy Platforms

Boats
With more than 40,000 motorboats, sailboats, yachts and houseboats referenced worldwide, Click & Boat (clickandboat.com) makes it easy to find a rental, whether for a few hours or a few weeks. Owners tend to be individuals rather than large corporations, and if you need a captain for your boat, it’s often the owner. The cost of fuel is usually extra, so try to get an estimate before booking.

Motorhomes and Motorhomes
If you fancy the freedom of driving through a country with your own hotel room in the back seat, then check out Goboony (goboony.co.uk). With over 6,000 vehicles listed in the UK and thousands more in Europe, it’s a great way to explore with room for kids, cats, dogs and friends. Ask for up-to-date photos of the owner and make sure your license allows you to drive the size vehicle you want in the country where you are renting.

Cars
If you’ve recently tried renting a car, you may have noticed that prices are generally significantly higher than they were a few years ago. You can reduce these costs with Turo (turo.com), which lists cars direct from owners in North America and the UK. As with any car rental, however, take a full video of the car when you pick it up – inside and out – in case of a damage dispute.

Home swapping can provide a new perspective on a destination

Home swapping can provide a new perspective on a destination

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Home exchange
Home swapping, usually where both parties stay at each other’s properties at the same time, can help put you in the shoes of a destination. Love House Swap (lovehomeswap.com) has been around since 2011 and its annual fee, from £96, provides access to properties in over 100 countries. Be aware that there may be additional charges for cleaning and garbage collection.

Car park
Why pay airport or downtown parking rates when you can squeeze into a private space in someone’s driveway or garage for a fraction of the price? This is the principle of JustPark (justpark.com), which since 2006 has been connecting car park owners with those who need it.

tents
Want to try camping, but not sure if it’s your thing? Or maybe you don’t have enough space to store all the equipment? Tent sharing (tentpartage.fr) lists camping gear for hire from individuals across the UK, including tents that will be pitched and awaiting your arrival.

bicycles
While it started out as a bike-sharing platform, Spinlister (spinlister.com) now also offers surf and snow sports rentals in the US, London and Amsterdam. In the UK, the best availability for two-wheeler rentals is around towns; options in rural areas are limited.

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