The problem with owning a holiday house is that soon you get bored of going there. Globetrender speaks with Wade Shealy, co-founder of Thirdhome, about how his platform enables luxury holiday home swaps and rentals as part of an elite social network.
What is Thirdhome and why is it innovative?
Originally a luxury home exchange, Thirdhome has evolved into the only travel brand that brings together a collective of trusted home owners, renters and adventurers.
Thirdhome Exchange invites second-home owners to join an exclusive community of like-minded members and trade time in their homes for stays in spectacular destinations without paying high rental fees.
Thirdhome Rentals empowers owners to list their home with confidence and allows travellers to book. Meanwhile, Thirdhome Adventures are small-group organised luxury tours offered by Thirdhome Custom Travel with set departure dates.
How is it different from Airbnb Luxe?
The Exchange is different from Airbnb Luxe in that members are leveraging time in their second home to travel the world. Members can stay in other members’ properties across the globe without paying. There is only a small exchange fee for each week that averages US$800.
Our rental programme is another option for those members who wish to earn rental income. This differs from Airbnb Luxe in that homeowners who participate in the Exchange pay no commission and listing fees for displaying their home on the rental website. There is also comprehensive guest screening, giving homeowners peace of mind.
Who is the target market?
Our market includes luxury second-home owners who have the flexibility and desire to travel. The majority of members range in age from 45 to 60 years old, and home values average US$2.4 million. Almost one-third of our members are retired. They are well-educated, fiscally responsible, entrepreneurial and adventurous.
How do you decide who can become a member?
Membership of Exchange is simple – your home must not be a primary residence, must be valued at at least US$500,000 (the average home value is US$2.4Million), and in a desirable location with upscale luxury furnishings. We also accept members who own time in full-service luxury resorts.
What inspired you to create Thirdhome?
I have had a successful history as both a property developer and real-estate entrepreneur in the southern states of the US, which is where I came up with the idea for the club. It is the combination of hundreds of conversations with my real-estate clients that all echoed the same theme.
No matter how excited they were when they first bought their second home, almost invariably, within five years, they would be back wanting me to re-list their property. When asked why, the same answer always came up: ‘We love it here but feel like we have seen and done everything there is to do and want to try somewhere new’.With further research, I realised that, deep down, they did not want to sell a home that they had grown to love and cherish, but instead wanted to have new travel experiences and not feel guilty about paying and staying somewhere else.
Then it dawned on me, why should you have to sell your home to travel? Why not leverage this investment and exchange time with other like-minded individuals?
Coincidentally, around the same time as my concept of the exchange club was evolving in 2009, many home owners who had purchased in the early 2000s found themselves unable to sell with the financial crisis of 2008. In 2010, I decided it was time to lean into what the market was asking for, and I created Thirdhome.
We have quickly grown the Club from our first member in early 2010, with a beautiful home on the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, Montana, to 11,000 members who have homes in 94 countries.
How does the exchange element work? How does the platform work when it comes to booking?
The Exchange element is simple – when members join, their home is assessed and assigned a Key value based on several factors, including how much the home is worth, desirability of location, and if it rents, weekly rental rates.
They deposit a couple of weeks into the platform, and in return earn Keys, or “travel credits” – the more desirable the time of year, the more Keys that can be obtained. Those Keys can immediately be exchanged for stays in other members’ homes.
Depending on the size of the property and time of year, a set fee is charged that ranges from US$495-US$1,295 for a week-long stay.
Once a stay is booked, information is shared between the guest and the host so they can discuss the details of the stay. Often, hosts will share their favorite local recommendations for restaurants, entertainment and activities.
Our members report that it feels like a friend staying in their home and, in turn, treat it just as they would their own home. Additionally, the follow-up after a stay is essential and includes the guest review of the home that is shared publicly and the host review of the guest that is shared only with Thirdhome.
What are Thirdhome Adventures?
Thirdhome Adventures are for our Adventure Club members. They are small-group luxury trips with set dates and itineraries. For those who prefer to travel specifically with their family and friends, we have My Private Adventures. (Luxury travelers who join the Adventure Club do not have to own a second home to participate.)
How many destinations do you have properties in?
1,600 destinations in 94 countries.
What are your plans for growth?
Thirdhome will be the brand people associate with luxury home-sharing and travel. We will continue to provide tremendous value to known luxury brands, while gaining exponential exposure to the high-net-worth group within our club.
We are working with select luxury vacation rental companies. We can bring them increased occupancy rates, ancillary income, retention opportunities, and new audiences while offering their home owners a unique travel opportunity leveraging what they already own for guilt-free travel.
Our developer partnerships are also areas where we continue to grow. Thirdhome provides value-add with custom programs to assist in their sales that include extra travel opportunities, marketing, promotions and brand exposure.
What do you predict for the future of home rentals?
Ten years from now, virtually every owner of a second home will have joined a club like Thirdhome. I predict millennials will believe that buying a second home automatically means you travel the world and stay in other people’s houses.