Considering the different ways to book your accommodations for a much-needed getaway? If you are stuck between the options of Airbnb, hostels and couchsurfing, there is a new startup in town offering a fresh spin on the “sharing economy.”
Seattle startup Winston Club will allow travelers to save money on hotels by sharing rooms with other users. The booking service matches people looking to stay in the same area and cuts hotel room fares in half through room-sharing.
Company founder Byron Shannon wrote about the epiphany that led him to Winston Club in a blog post. After renting his own space out to an Airbnb guest, Shannon searched for a place to stay in Seattle. He wrote:
“I set out looking for a low cost option — somewhere I could share a space, perhaps meet someone cool, and then be on my way for the weekend.
“I messaged the few clean, close AirBnB spots I could find, and had no success. I certainly didn’t want to dish out $150 or $200 on a hotel room. Frustrated, I wondered why there wasn’t a way for me to split the cost of a room with someone else at one of the nice hotels nearby. There were plenty of open rooms available, and surely a good portion of them had two beds.”
The resulting product was Winston Club, which screens its members through a five-step verification process that includes authenticating photo IDs, emails, credit cards, social networks and phone numbers. According to GeekWire, the screening process also includes video chats and surveying members on their interests and hobbies.
While Winston Club will not offer its users insurance policies on damages and lost or stolen property, the startup does have the advantage of using accredited hotels. Theft will not be a common concern for members due to their thorough vetting process, claims Shannon. However, he says such scenarios will be resolved on a case-by-case basis and members may face criminal charges and potentially lose eligibility to book through Winston services in the future.
As for partnerships with hotels, Winston Club has already been welcomed at “over 12 premier hotels on the west coast,” the company website reads. Shannon elaborated to GeekWire on the advantages companies get from collaborating with his startup:
“With Winston, hotels receive the benefit of increased demand from a pipeline of vetted guests ready to be introduced to their brand for the first time.”
Winston Club specifically partners with four- and five-star hotels based on their members’ preferences. While the names of the hotels have yet to be released, Winston Club will be launching early spring in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The startup also plans to utilize a user review system similar to Airbnb’s in the latter half of 2016.
Shannon believes users of his service will be able to travel more because of the money they will save. He told Road Warrior Voices:
“The chance to explore some of the best hotels in the best cities for half price. You have tons of options to save 10, 20, 30% when you travel, but it’s exciting to think about the places you might not otherwise consider visiting until now, when you can stay in some of the most exciting neighborhoods in the U.S. and pay half price.”