Home exchange represents a part of tourism that grows over time. It complements the tourist offers offered by hoteliers or private individuals with offers such as AirBnB. In France, extended holidays or weekends are all opportunities to go to another region, or even another country. Travellers’ behaviour is changing and is turning to new solutions that allow you to enjoy your holidays differently.
Home exchange, a new way to travel
This way of travelling appeared in the United States in the 1950s. Gradually, it became popular all over the world, so much so that today the exchange of houses is an interesting alternative. And this in many aspects, which are drivers in the choice of accommodation. It is above all an economic choice for a majority of families who leave. Compared to sometimes expensive hotel nights if the property is well located, the house exchange is much more interesting.
The exchange of houses takes place through platforms provided for this kind of rental. In exchange for an annual membership that allows the traveller to be a member of the community, the traveller can go to another member’s accommodation anywhere in the world. In return, the other member can invest the host’s house, for a reciprocal exchange. But this is not mandatory, the only obligation being not to be in his dwelling during the exchange.
Without paying anything once joining the platform, it’s easy to travel cheaply around the world. It is therefore a very popular solution to leave more often, and discover other places, meet new people. Beyond a simple exchange of houses, it is above all a social rapprochement. The founders of the dedicated platforms understood this. The mutual trust of leaving your home to a family you don’t know allows you to exchange more before you make an agreement. An essential value in a society seen as very individualistic. Moreover, France is one of the most touristic countries in the world, this type of exchange is very important. A beautiful concept that does not make everyone happy, especially hoteliers, directly impacted.
A flourishing business, between growth opportunities and the break-up of an already fragile tourism market
Home exchange is practiced all over the world, making you feel at home on the other side of the world, or in the surrounding region. This increasingly successful concept calls into question the growth of hotels, which have been hit hard by COVID-19. The preparation time for a holiday is 6 months to 1 year, especially for summer holidays. During this period when most French people are on holiday, in addition to foreign tourists, it is better to plan upstream its accommodation. However, following the latest news, many tourists are no longer able to provide their trip. The temporary closure of borders and containment are a harbinger of a difficult period for all tourism professionals. This is despite the economic measures announced by the Government to support them.
Between 2015 and 2019, according to an INSEE study in April 2019, in New Aquitaine, the number of hotels decreased by 3.4%. The closure of smaller establishments has allowed the reopening of new, larger ones, thus increasing the capacity of 0.3%. Low growth, which seems to be undermined by the development of other tourist accommodations. After the confinement, it is likely that the departure on vacation will be prepared to optimize expenses. A boon for home exchanges, but not necessarily for tourism professionals.
The only category of hotels that still managed to continue a constant activity wasthe high-end hotel industry. Indeed, they attract an affluent foreign tourist clientele, especially in seaside resorts such as the Arcachon Basin. In Bordeaux, the situation is the same, the foreign clientele enjoying hotels well located in the city centre or near the vineyards.
Bordeaux, a multi-faceted tourist town
Home exchange in France is widespread, but some regions are more popular than others. This is the case, for example, of New Aquitaine, ranked second region in terms of house exchanges behind the Ile-de-France. It is ideally located close to the ocean, mountains and it is possible to be disoriented after a few minutes drive. In addition, Bordeaux is renowned all over the world for its wine, which is also an incentive for tourists to come. As mentioned earlier, with the arrival of summer, the Arcachon Basin is also popular, for holidays with family or friends.
The Gironde easily ranks on the third step of the podium of the departments most prized by visitors who practice the exchange of houses. According to a Press Release from HomeExchange dated October 2019, more than 730,000 nights have been booked in France in 2018 via their platform. A resounding success that has not slowed down since. By welcoming tourists, however, the region benefits from their purchasing power. Limited spending on accommodation allows for more on-site consumption. Excursions, shopping at merchants, outings to restaurants and other expenses are revised upwards when the hotel budget is limited.
The concept of home exchange has the wind in its sails and encourages tourists to go on holiday more often. A guarantee of safety, but also of comfort, it allows you to leave by limiting its costs. For cities, it is a way to develop tourism throughout the year. On the other hand, the hotel sector is shaken, also sharing its shares with rentals such as AirBnB.