New startup allows strangers to share guestrooms

Has the sharing economy gone too far? Hoteliers are going to want to ask that question when they hear about the newest addition to the growing set of alternative lodging sites. 

The Winston Club is a startup that is offering the option of sharing your hotel room with a stranger in order to split the cost of the stay. According to Yahoo! Travel, the company bills itself as a guest-matching service that will find another person with similar interests to bunk up with solo travelers, pre-screening them and completing the booking process.

When the service launches it will be available in 12 hotels in San Francisco; Los Angeles; Seattle; Las Vegas; and Portland, Ore. 

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"Today, most members-only booking services offer the benefit of discounted pricing not available to the public, and they largely cater to the leisure traveler," Winston Club founder Bryon Shannon told KGW in an interview. "Their members have a one-way relationship with the company, not other members. With Winston, solo travelers are connected with each other."

In the same interview, Shannon said that the site has safety measures in place that require members to produce five forms of verification: phone numbers and professional emails, one verified social media account, a credit card at booking and a photo ID at check-in.

This plan, while an ingenious cost-saver for travelers, could potentially lead to a torrent of liability concerns. While Shannon told KGW that security is in place to ensure that the person sharing a guest's room is as familiar as possible, it is coming at a time when cities are beginning to do battle with alternative lodging options such as Airbnb. And while data theft is currently the largest security threat facing the industry, one can question who holds liability in the event of a guest's items being stolen when one had willingly let a stranger into their room.

Time will tell, but we won't have to wait long. The Winston Club was set to launch Nov. 9, 2015, and the industry can expect an early opening next year. 

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