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RENITA JABLONSKI: If you’re vacationing this holiday weekend, you could be saving money on accommodations. Or if you’re not going anywhere, you could be making some extra money. Some new online travel services are pairing up people with extra beds and sofas with travelers looking for somewhere to crash for a small fee. Timothy Beck Werth has the story.
TIMOTHY BECK WERTH: Robert Rutherford lives near the beach in Los Angeles. For that past few months, he’s been renting out his bed to total strangers for $75 a night. Nearby hotels can charge hundreds.
ROBERT RUTHERFORD: So this is the view. That’s Venice right there — you can see a little bit of the water out there.
Rutherford is one of thousands offering their futons, couches and bedrooms as crash pads on Airbedandbreakfast.com. The site gets a commission of up to 13 percent on each booking and operates in more than a thousand cities around the world.
It’s known as peer-to-peer travel. The half-dozen Web sites offering the service tend to get the most traffic during major events like the Super Bowl. Still, travel industry consultant Peter Yesawich says the idea’s appeal is limited mostly to twentysomethings.
PETER YESAWICH: At that stage in life there are probably not only certain financial motivations, but also social motivations. But what you’ll see as those travelers start to age, is their interest in more conventional lodging alternatives becomes more pronounced.
Venetia Pristavec of Hollywood rents her pull-out sofa for just $25. And though she doesn’t make pancakes in the morning, she can stand in as a hip concierge.
Venetia Pristavec: We’re so helpful, you know telling them the best restaurants to go to, it’s like having your own tour guide, and that’s why when we go travel we like to stay with people like that.
Peer-to-peer services aren’t just limited to couchsurfing. ParkatmyHouse.com, for example, lets people convert their empty driveways into car ports for cash.
I’m Timothy Beck Werth, for Marketplace.