A ‘WELLNESS SHARING ECONOMY’ TAKES OFF WITH THE PANDEMIC

Platforms that let people book daycations at hotels and resorts—and rent private homeowners’ pools, campsites, tennis courts, gardens, boats and more—are on fire

We’re deep in our second pandemic summer with a joy-killing Delta variant, and most of us have suffered a long year-plus of nixed vacations, closed public and private pools, and parks swarmed with crowds. We’ve gone mad at home, slumped over our laptops, desperate for some safe, uncrowded, outdoor wellness relief with friends and family.

A new “wellness sharing economy” is answering our desperate call. A growing number of companies are giving people access to daycations at hotels and resorts or work like “Airbnbs of wellness”: hooking people up with homeowners who are finding a major new source of income by renting their outdoor spaces: their pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, home gyms, gardens and boats—or letting people camp/glamp on their property.

Apps such as ResortPass (in the US, Caribbean, Mexico and Central America) let people book day access to both mainstream hotels and luxury resorts’ pools, cabanas, fitness centers, beach clubs and spas (often offering spa discounts)—at a range of price-points. They’re reporting a huge uptick in bookings and hotel sign-ups since the pandemic (no wonder, as daycation guests typically spend a whole lot on incidentals).

Swimply, dubbed the “Airbnb for backyard pools” (available in 125 US markets and Australia), lets people easily book time in other peoples’ pools to do laps or chill out with friends and family. Prices might range from $20 to over $150 an hour for either a humble backyard pool to a tricked-out Hollywood-celeb-style mansion offering resort-level pools, hot tubs and saunas—and even professional sound systems and movie screens to stream music and films while you float. Swimply’s pool listings and bookings have both exploded since 2019 (see below). And Swimply pool renters report they’re earning between $5,000–$10,000 a month! Peerspace, a US marketplace for booking film locations and event venues, is another player in the private swimming pool rental space. Swimply has been a personal salvation for this author living in LA since the pandemic hit. My friends will often text: “I’m dying. Swimply?”

Now, Swimply is launching Joyspace, expanding beyond pools to let people rent everything from private tennis and basketball courts, home gyms and fitness studios, and even docked boats by the hour.

Sites such as Glamping Hub, Hipcamp and Campspace let you camp, glamp and hit the great outdoors on private land. At Spanish start-up Glamping Hub you can book high-end yurts, tents, treehouses, tipis and cabins around the world. Hipcamp (in the US, Canada and Australia) gives access to everything from tent camping to RVs to treehouses on private property. With national parks crushed, these sites let people connect with nature in a more distanced and serene way.

And then there’s the gear-sharing: the Spinlister app connects bike owners with the traveling bike-less around the world and also connects them with people who will rent gear like surfboards and snowboards.

Wellness experiences and amenities have been heavily about exclusivity and “gated” access. These companies are re-inventing who can access, where, and how around sharing/rental models. Many of these companies will state that they launched to “do good”—for instance, Joyspace has said their mission is to “democratize luxury.” But they’re also doing incredibly well. More wellness businesses may want to think about their “wellness assets” and consider what they can share and monetize.

For more of the latest wellness trends, check out the GWS’s Mid-Year Wellness Trends Update.

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