Smart City Dwellers Defeat the Ban on Short-Term Rentals, with New Home Sharing Service

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New York City has become the latest large city to ban short-term rentals. Could the growth of peer to peer sharing services and this ban, be the catalyst for a home sharing community that is more flexible than home exchange and more attractive than time share?

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Available property on GuestVessel

We usually rent out our apartment for a week or two over the winter holidays. It pays for our winter vacation. We get out of town [to] someplace warm.

This May, New York City will join Paris and Maui in banning short-term vacation rentals. This has Sandra Myers, a resident of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, dismayed: “We usually rent out our apartment for a week or two over the winter holidays. It pays for our winter vacation. We get out of town [to] someplace warm.”    

Tourists have long used this type of informal vacation rental to enjoy more space and amenities than a tiny hotel room can offer. Apartment owners in expensive cities know that the occasional rental at peak travel times, like New Year’s Eve in Manhattan, can finance their own vacation get-away.    

With more cities forbidding the exchange of money for informal vacation rentals, a new club called has an innovative solution. GuestVessel is a community of smart travelers who let selected screened members use their house or apartment for free when those homes would otherwise be empty. In exchange, GuestVessel members earn tokens that can be redeemed for a stay in any other member’s home when that person is away for business or leisure. By providing a safe way for security-screened guests to use each others’ homes, GuestVessel offers a new twist on the half-century old institution of vacation “home exchange”.    

Unlike old-fashioned home exchange clubs that force two members to vacation at the same time, and only in each others’ homes, GuestVessel members have the flexibility to choose from any listed property.

Only GuestVessel members are screened to verify their home address and ensure they have no criminal convictions. This lets members host guests without worry. TripAdvisor reports that 40% of travelers would like to try home exchange, but only 1% have completed this sort of vacation swap. GuestVessel offers safety and flexibility missing in the traditional home exchange club model.    

GuestVessel offers free memberships to anyone with an existing membership to a for-pay sublet service, and a free upgrade to Gold membership for the rest of 2010. For more info or the limited-time free membership go to


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Eliot Yaxley
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