Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Tue December 22 2015

New Startup Hopes You'll Share A Hotel Room with a Stranger

Hotel & Resort | Patrick Clarke | December 22, 2015

New Startup Hopes You'll Share A Hotel Room with a Stranger

Travelers will have more options than ever before when booking hotels in the new year and you can add the soon-to-launch Winston Club to that growing list.

The members-only booking service startup aims to fully embrace the emergence of the sharing economy by pairing traveling strangers together in a hotel room, in turn cutting their hotel rate in half (since they are splitting the bill with another guest).

The new website is set to launch in early 2016 in a handful of U.S. cities, including  Seattle, Las Vegas, Portland, San Francisco or Los Angeles.

While many travelers will obviously be turned off to the idea of sharing their hotel room with someone they don't know, there are key benefits to Winston Club's concept. In addition to the savings, members will be staying at a hotel rather than a private residence. On top of peace of mind, that means guests will have access to a variety of amenities, assistance from the front desk and hotel staff and improved security. 

"We started Winston Club because we felt there should be an easy way for people to connect when they’d like a low-cost way to access the comfort and convenience of a hotel," founder Bryon Shannon told USA Today's Road Warrior Voices. "We wanted a safe, reliable, economical solution that provided a better experience than hostels or CouchSurfing alternatives."

In order to become a Winston Club member, users must be able to produce five forms of verification, including a phone number and professional email at account setup. Members will also need to present a photo ID at check-in.

The service goes a step further, though, pairing travelers based on similar interests and background information in hopes it will lead to a smoother stay. However members will have the last say when it comes to whom they room with.

"Room-sharing isn’t for everyone — or all the time. We get it. We personally wouldn’t want to share a room with someone who we wouldn’t click with either," Shannon told Road Warrior Voices. "That’s why we invest a lot of time in getting to know each member before their first trip, and we make thoughtful pairing recommendations that you can always accept or reject."

While it remains to be seen how the Winston Club will fare, it's clear the startup will present an intriguing alternative to Airbnb and other short-term vacation rental services for guests traveling on a budget or looking to experience destinations they otherwise couldn't afford.

After all, a recent PWC survey found that consumers familiar with the sharing economy are 34 percent more likely to trust a leading hotel brand than Airbnb.


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