An ‘Airbnb for Pools’ Is Making A Splash
Kanebridge News
Share Button

An ‘Airbnb for Pools’ Is Making A Splash

Swimply reports surge in demand amid pandemic, rising pool-chemical costs.

By SAMI SPARBER
Wed, Jul 21, 2021 10:51amGrey Clock 3 min

Jim Battan’s tree-lined swimming pool at his home outside Portland, Ore., had been sitting untouched since his youngest daughter moved out two years ago. Then in September, he listed it through an online platform for renting private pools.

He booked the pool three times within the first two hours, and says he has hosted 2,700 guests in less than a year. Mr. Battan expects to have earned $111,000 by the end of the summer, which would just cover the $110,000 he and his wife spent on the custom-built pool eight years ago.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s weird,’ ” Mr. Battan said. “It’s nice to feel like we didn’t have to spend all $110,000 for nothing.”

He is one of 13,000 pool owners in 125 markets across the U.S., including cities like Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, who are cashing in on their underused pool by listing with the company Swimply, which some media reports have dubbed the “Airbnb for backyard pools.”

Swimply said its pool owners have made about 122,000 bookings since the start of 2020. Business began picking up before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it boomed during the health crisis as public pools closed and people sought to make extra cash or safely gather after months of lockdown.

“We’ve seen a lot of families [and friends] rekindling with Swimply,” said Bunim Laskin, Swimply co-founder and chief executive.

Hosts on average earn between about $5,000 and $10,000 a month, according to Asher Weinberger, Swimply co-founder and chief operating officer. Most pool owners charge between $35 and $50 an hour, while Swimply collects 15% from the hosts and another 10% from the guests.

Some of the hosts’ earnings help pay for costs related to pool maintenance, which have jumped during the pandemic because lockdowns and business slowdowns disrupted the pool-chemical supply chain. Mr. Weinberger said he now spends $85 a week on chemicals and servicing his pool, up from $45 before the pandemic.

“It’s a hunt for chlorine at the best price,” said Shanon Zoeller, a Swimply host in Oklahoma City, who said he has made $10,000 since he started renting out his pool last June.

Most swimmers are local families, Mr. Weinberger said. Bookings on average run five to seven people. Hosts choose their rental rate, upload photos of their pool and list amenities, such as a barbecue grill or sound system.

It’s not a party for the pool owners. Rather, hosting is “an amazing amount of work,” Mr. Battan said. Most days he wakes up at 5 a.m. to skim the water of leaves. His wife cleans the pool-house bathroom and lays out rows of pool toys before each booking.

Swimply isn’t the only pool in town. Peerspace, a marketplace for booking film-production locations and event venues, offers thousands of spaces with swimming pools at hourly rates.

“With the heat rising, we see lots of demand for outdoor spaces, many of which have pools,” said Matt Bendett, Peerspace co-founder and vice president of operations.

Short-term rental companies like Airbnb Inc. and vacation-home rental firms including Expedia Group’s Vrbo also rent homes with pools by the day.

Like Airbnb and its industry peers, Swimply has to navigate safety and liability concerns. A swimmer could drown or rowdy guests might cause property damage.

To mitigate those risks, about 80% of the company’s hosts opt to stay home while guests are using their pool, Mr. Weinberger said. The company also has in place host liability insurance for as much as $1 million and a property-damage-protection policy.

Mr. Battan said he hasn’t had a serious problem arise while renting his pool, but he still prefers to be home during bookings. “There are too many risks with unattended guests,” he said, referring to “horror stories” of underage drinking and noisy events.

Next month, Mr. Zoeller is hosting a nearly 40-person pool party. He said enforcing rules about street parking and loud music has kept his neighbours happy.

“The worst thing that’s happened is I found two beer cans in the skimmer once,” Mr. Zoeller said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 20, 2021



MOST POPULAR

Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Money
Why Prices of the World’s Most Expensive Handbags Keep Rising
By CAROL RYAN 05/03/2024
Money
The Lessons I’ve Learned From My Friends’ Expensive Divorces
By JULIA CARPENTER 05/03/2024
Lifestyle
Only 5% of U.S. Foundations Invest for Impact, Study Finds
By ABBY SCHULTZ 02/03/2024
Why Prices of the World’s Most Expensive Handbags Keep Rising

Designers are charging more for their most recognisable bags to maintain the appearance of exclusivity as the industry balloons

By CAROL RYAN
Tue, Mar 5, 2024 3 min

The price of a basic Hermès Birkin handbag has jumped $1,000. This first-world problem for fashionistas is a sign that luxury brands are playing harder to get with their most sought-after products.

Hermès recently raised the cost of a basic Birkin 25-centimeter handbag in its U.S. stores by 10% to $11,400 before sales tax, according to data from luxury handbag forum PurseBop. Rarer Birkins made with exotic skins such as crocodile have jumped more than 20%. The Paris brand says it only increases prices to offset higher manufacturing costs, but this year’s increase is its largest in at least a decade.

The brand may feel under pressure to defend its reputation as the maker of the world’s most expensive handbags. The “Birkin premium”—the price difference between the Hermès bag and its closest competitor , the Chanel Classic Flap in medium—shrank from 70% in 2019 to 2% last year, according to PurseBop founder Monika Arora. Privately owned Chanel has jacked up the price of its most popular handbag by 75% since before the pandemic.

Eye-watering price increases on luxury brands’ benchmark products are a wider trend. Prada ’s Galleria bag will set shoppers back a cool $4,600—85% more than in 2019, according to the Wayback Machine internet archive. Christian Dior ’s Lady Dior bag and the Louis Vuitton Neverfull are both 45% more expensive, PurseBop data show.

With the U.S. consumer-price index up a fifth since 2019, luxury brands do need to offset higher wage and materials costs. But the inflation-beating increases are also a way to manage the challenge presented by their own success: how to maintain an aura of exclusivity at the same time as strong sales.

Luxury brands have grown enormously in recent years, helped by the Covid-19 lockdowns, when consumers had fewer outlets for spending. LVMH ’s fashion and leather goods division alone has almost doubled in size since 2019, with €42.2 billion in sales last year, equivalent to $45.8 billion at current exchange rates. Gucci, Chanel and Hermès all make more than $10 billion in sales a year. One way to avoid overexposure is to sell fewer items at much higher prices.

Many aspirational shoppers can no longer afford the handbags, but luxury brands can’t risk alienating them altogether. This may explain why labels such as Hermès and Prada have launched makeup lines and Gucci’s owner Kering is pushing deeper into eyewear. These cheaper categories can be a kind of consolation prize. They can also be sold in the tens of millions without saturating the market.

“Cosmetics are invisible—unless you catch someone applying lipstick and see the logo, you can’t tell the brand,” says Luca Solca, luxury analyst at Bernstein.

Most of the luxury industry’s growth in 2024 will come from price increases. Sales are expected to rise by 7% this year, according to Bernstein estimates, even as brands only sell 1% to 2% more stuff.

Limiting volume growth this way only works if a brand is so popular that shoppers won’t balk at climbing prices and defect to another label. Some companies may have pushed prices beyond what consumers think they are worth. Sales of Prada’s handbags rose a meagre 1% in its last quarter and the group’s cheaper sister label Miu Miu is growing faster.

Ramping up prices can invite unflattering comparisons. At more than $2,000, Burberry ’s small Lola bag is around 40% more expensive today than it was a few years ago. Luxury shoppers may decide that tried and tested styles such as Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull bag, which is now a little cheaper than the Burberry bag, are a better buy—especially as Louis Vuitton bags hold their value better in the resale market.

Aggressive price increases can also drive shoppers to secondhand websites. If a barely used Prada Galleria bag in excellent condition can be picked up for $1,500 on luxury resale website The Real Real, it is less appealing to pay three times that amount for the bag brand new.

The strategy won’t help everyone, but for the best luxury brands, stretching the price spectrum can keep the risks of growth in check.

MOST POPULAR

Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Money
He Stole Hundreds of iPhones and Looted People’s Life Savings. He Told Us How.
By JOANNA STERN 21/12/2023
Lifestyle
The sports lover’s trip of a lifetime
By KANEBRIDGE NEWS 25/01/2024
Money
How China Miscalculated Its Way to a Baby Bust
By LIYAN QI 13/02/2024
0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop