Hotels to offer free stays to guests in exchange for their skills


More than 600 B&Bs, hotels and self-catering businesses across the world have signed up to take part in the second international Barter Week. The initiative runs for a week in November (18-24) and invites accommodation owners to offer free stays to guests in exchange for sharing skills or goods.

Hosts register their “wishes”, which range from carpentry and decorating skills to social media knowhow or website expertise and invite potential guests to make an offer.

Properties range from an eco-retreat in Bulgaria that is looking for someone with woodworking skills to help build a reiki room in its garden to a Sri Lankan hotel-spa hoping to find an expert in search engine optimisation and a Torquay guesthouse in need of a painter and decorator.

It’s not just skills that are required. A B&B in Turin is after children’s books in good condition; a hostel in Moscow wants board games, and a Ger house in Mongolia is hoping for a used computer.

Among more obscure requests are “vintage globes”, wanted by a B&B in Livorno, and musicians or acrobats to join a community setting up a vegetarian campsite south of Tarragona in Spain.

Launched in 2018, the initiative is the sister project to Italian Barter Week which started 11 years ago when the website bed-and-breakfast.it discovered one of its members, in Sardinia, was bartering with guests.

“When we found out there was this bizarre way of doing business, we asked all our properties to experiment for one week a year in low season,” said marketing manager Clara Corallo. The Italian edition of Barter Week, Settimana del Baratto, which operates over the same period, has nearly 900 properties listed on its site.

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Corallo says the next stage is to launch a permanent bartering site for accommodation owners to use at any time of year, not just the fixed week. This is expected to launch in 2020.

Barter Week is not the only initiative offering free stays in exchange for skills. Workaway lists 30,000 hosts worldwide offering accommodation and food in exchange for a few hours’ work a day, and individual hostels and lodges around the world often offer free stays on an ad-hoc basis in return for skills.

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