A by-the-hour backyard swimming pool rental website is gaining steam in Richmond.
Swimply, which offers an Airbnb-type service as a way for pool owners to gain extra income off their pool’s idle time, is seeing a rise, albeit incrementally, in bookings around the Richmond region.
Founded in 2018 in New Jersey, Swimply has been taking listings nationwide and in Australia and Canada for a few years now. Vice President of Growth Sonny Mayugba said it has had listings in Richmond since 2019, but is beginning to see more. There are currently seven pools in the Richmond area listed on the site.
The Richmond listings include several pools in the city, as well in Mechanicsville, Chesterfield, Prince George and Colonial Heights, with hourly rates ranging from $40 to $100.
Mayugba said hosts decide the hourly rate and Swimply gets paid by taking 15 percent of each booking. Users also can list amenities offered such as outdoor speakers, grills, pool toys, WiFi, fire pits, diving boards, night lighting and more. They can also list the pool’s dimensions, depth and maximum number of swimmers.
Mayugba said that there are a few reasons why people rent out their private pools.
“The first is the obvious one: people are making incredible revenue on Swimply,” he said. “The second reason is the most surprising reason. When you have a home with a pool, you use it a lot the first year. But kids grow up and people get busy and suddenly you have this beautiful asset in your backyard that no one’s really using.”
As to questions of how the company handles safety and liability, Mayugba said Swimply runs background checks on all of its hosts and has an insurance program for certain injuries and property damage.
“Like anything, we highly stress personal responsibility. Safety, cleanliness, just like if you went to any swimming pool. There has to be supervision by an adult,” he said. “We have resources like lifeguards and swim instructors if you need them, and you have to be an adult to book at Swimply anyway,” Mayugba said.
Its insurance program covers $1 million in liability plus $10,000 in property damage.
“We’ve really gone to great lengths to make sure that things are in place so that you don’t have a bad situation,” he said.
In the future, Swimply has its eyes set on more countries worldwide. Mayugba said that they are also looking into adding other kinds of spaces like private tennis courts, recording studios, climbing walls, basketball courts and more.
“We have a host right now who has an 18-hole miniature golf course on her property. How about you take a swim for two hours and then dry the family off and play mini golf? That sounds like a pretty great afternoon,” Mayugba said. “We’ll definitely be adding more spaces as we continue to grow.”