The sharing economy continues to grow and expand as it takes on a heavier load of digital payment and commerce. In fact, it is now reaching into places that can be considered forms of childhood paradise, underscoring the scope and appeal of this business model.
The latest evidence comes from a company called Swimply, which offers to help consumers “find beautiful pools near you.” The company boats of “thousands of Swimply hosts who have converted their pool from an ongoing expense into a profitable asset without compromising on any of their own pool time.” Those hosts use the Swimply app to set the times when their pools are available for use, and can then take reservations and get paid. Think of it as an Airbnb for private pools whose idle time can be used for profit. “Non-pool owners can read all about the pools, see user reviews and book directly on Swimply,” the company said.
So far, the company is focusing on bookings in such areas as Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston – places safely away from the snow and ice that will soon enough hit much of the U.S. According to one recent description of the company, “in those areas, Swimply contracts a pool maintenance firm to carry out a health inspection of the pools and also makes sure to visit the site or have a video call with the owners of the pools to verify that the pools exist and are as the photos show. Eventually, all pools will be vetted and inspected, though the company is still expanding its customer care team and doesn’t yet have the resources to vet all the pools.”
On one side of Swimply’s platform are pool owners who might be frustrated by the cost of owning a pool and might not use it frequently. On the other side are swimmers who might be looking for a place to take a dip and don’t have access to a private pool. (Only 17.12 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 owned a pool, hot tub or spa last year, per one estimate, while only 12.97 percent of Americans ages 50 to 64 owned one.)
According to an announcement for the service, the average pool costs $45 per hour and is based on size, amenities, demand and timing.
Swimming pools are places of mostly happy memories that spark anticipation, especially among younger people (but also adults, of course). So are treehouses. And the sharing economy and the world of treehouses have recently come together in an interesting way. The most popular house in Airbnb history is a treehouse – or, to be totally accurate, a rather treehouse-esque structure nestled into the woods of a coastal Northern California town called Aptos, population 6,620. Due to its cylindrical shape and domed roof, it is affectionately known as “The Mushroom Dome.”
The dome is currently booked until mid-2020 and is viewed approximately three million times per year on Airbnb, according to Vox.
Back on the water, the sharing economy is also starting to take in more boats. Platforms like Boatsetter, Click&Boat and Samboat help boat enthusiasts rent a wide array of vessels, including yachts, sailboats and catamarans. Boat owners can list their vessels, specs, photos and rental prices on these websites and apps, similar to how a property owner would list on Airbnb. The platforms also help boat owners maintain pricing transparency, meaning renters have no need to haggle. Payments are held in escrow and disbursed when the rental period is complete.
“It was actually built by a friend of mine who had become homeless. She asked if she could bring a trailer and two daughters out here,” said Kitty Mrache, the Mushroom Dome’s owner. “The housing in this area is extremely short and expensive – because we’re a small mountain range away from Silicon Valley. Then she wanted to build a cabin; I said, ‘well, it can’t be more than 100 square feet.’ She linked up with a designer and [off they went.] So she lived out here for about 10 years, then she got married and left.”
Sharing will continue to grow as consumer desires shift and evolve – and you can bet more recreational activities will be part of all that.