Retail

Taking A Poolside Dip Into the Sharing Economy

The Aquatic ‘Airbnb’ Connects Swimmers, Pools

To connect consumers who are looking to take a dip in the summer heat with property owners who have a place for people to cool down, online platforms are taking a sharing economy approach to pools. Take Swimply, which says it is “the first online marketplace for pool sharing.” The company’s Co-founder and CMO Asher Weinberger told PYMNTS in an interview that the company is “filling a dual need.” The beauty of a marketplace when it is properly functioning, Weinberger said, is that it is “solving two needs.”

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 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.)

Consumers can go to the company’s website or download its app to start using the platform. The app can detect the user’s location if given permission, or users can type in the information manually. Swimply then shows available pools that are nearby. Consumers can scroll through them as they would with Turo for cars or Airbnb for apartments. They can find a pool they like and look at the amenities, rules and price. For reservations, consumers can either instantly book the pool or request a time slot that a host can then accept or decline. Payments are handled via the Stripe platform.

“We’re democratizing swimming,” Weinberger said, pointing out that Airbnb has made the sharing economy concept more normalized.

According to an announcement for the service, the average pool costs $45 per hour and is based on size, amenities, demand and timing.

The Pools

Pool amenities can range from barbeque grills to tennis courts. Some have built-in speakers for music or lounge chairs. Many pools offer access to bathrooms, and hosts can usually charge more to provide one. “It’s obviously a big amenity to be offering,” Weinberger said

To list their pools, property owners can visit the company’s website or app. Swimply asks a couple of questions about the pool, like an address, description and what is noteworthy about the pool (i.e., a tropical oasis in the middle of New York City.) One listing in Massachusetts, for instance, reads, “This pool is perfectly located on a nice park and walking distance to the center of town. It’s a perfect little getaway.”

Swimply also provides a list of amenities owners can select as available with their pool, such as a barbeque, hot tub, Wi-Fi, pool toys or a basketball court. It also asks them to set up their payment information (property owners get paid by direct deposit) and enter any applicable rules (i.e, no food, no pets). The platform also asks owners to block off certain hours the pool might not be available.

Once the pool owner submits the request, Swimply receives the information and reviews the listing before it goes live.

Weinberger said that the platform is seeing many pools in New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. (There is also availability in Canada and Australia.)

With online booking and payments, digital marketplaces like Swimply are aiming to connect pool owners near and far with those looking to go for a swim by leveraging the sharing economy business model.

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