UK: Célia Pronto, managing director of members-only, global home swapping platform Love Home Swap, pinpoints the reasons why home swapping is likely to become one of the key trends to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic in the hospitality space.
As lockdown relaxes and we begin to emerge from our homes, we can see some positive signs of confidence returning across all sectors, although there is still a long way to go. What is clear is we are not returning to the same landscape we were dealing with a year ago. This period of time has allowed consumers to take stock of what they want and we can already see some exciting new trends emerging.
One such trend is that Brits are coming out of lockdown with a new found focus on their work / life balance, as shown in our recent survey*. Having spent the last few months reacquainting ourselves with our homes, which for many of us also resulted in a marked improvement in our lifestyles, we are now looking at how to hold onto this better quality of life. More than half of all respondents cited that they agreed or strongly agreed that they are looking to improve their work / life balance in the long-term and nearly half of our respondents agreed that assessing their work / life balance has made them look for more leisure value from their homes.
We can already see this trend having an impact on the property market. According to recent news reports, potential homeowners have rushed out of lockdown to look for new homes that will give them a better quality of life, whether that is a place in the country or a bigger garden. And from our own research, more than a quarter of homeowners said they were looking to buy a new house in the next year, the majority of which [62 per cent] are looking to upgrade.
As we look to the travel market, we have seen similar reports of a boom in bookings, however consumers are returning with new priorities. Safety and personal security are now more important than weather when consumers consider their next holiday.
It is also important to note that consumers are returning to these markets with greater financial constraints than before. We are still in many ways coming to terms with the economic impact of the pandemic, but our research showed that only around five per cent of respondents would spend the same amount on travel over the coming months as they did before Covid-19.
All this points to a perfect storm for the sharing economy, and in particular home swapping. Based on trends ahead of the pandemic, the future of the sharing economy looked bright – PwC estimated that transactions from the sharing economy could grow from €28 billion in 2015 to €570 billion by 2025. Home swapping is a trend that has been in consistent double-digit growth over the past few years and we see the consumer trends emerging set to facilitate this further.
The ability for homeowners to use their home to go on their next holiday not only ticks the box when it comes to them looking for more leisure value from their home, but is also extremely cost effective. In 2019, Love Home Swappers saved an average total of £6.5 million by choosing our platform for their holidays. Sadly, affordability will not just be a short-term factor for those looking to travel – with the forecasted scale of the economic impact from the pandemic due to be with us for some time yet into the future.
Trust has also been revealed to be a key priority for consumers post-lockdown, as revealed by our own survey and that of others. What is unique to the sharing economy is that we foster a real sense of community, which in turn creates trust. We are proud to nurture our highly engaged community of thousands of homeowners who are active on the Love Home Swap platform and who, with our support, manage to build trust and confidence with each other. It is unique in that homeowners and holidaymakers are engaging directly person to person. For example, we have some Love Home Swappers who have now been friends for ten or more years, and we are proud of our 21,000+ reviews from members sharing their experiences.
There are still many challenges ahead, however the growth that we were experiencing before lockdown and the wider growth of the sharing economy definitely will not be brought to a halt by this pandemic. Since lockdown eased, we have already experienced up to 80 per cent of the normal swap rate activity versus pre-Covid 19, and we see ourselves as perfectly placed to meet the new consumer trends that are emerging out of lockdown.
The value of knowing our audience could not be more critical right now and businesses that employ the same outlook, who take stock of what matter most and adapt accordingly, will surely weather any storm we face ahead of us.
Love Home Swap is a leading members only global home swapping platform, allowing travellers to see the world through the power of sharing. From city pads to chateaux, the site features thousands of inspiring homes in 110+ countries worldwide. Founded in the UK in 2011, Love Home Swap was inspired by the movie ‘The Holiday’, and has been helping members swap houses and lives for almost ten years; offering authentic, original and unique holiday accommodation for travellers looking for somewhere to truly write home about.
* This research was conducted by Censuswide, polling 2,525 UK respondents [including 1,430 respondents who own a property], on behalf of Love Home Swap between 17.06.20 – 24.06.20. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.