Would you dare to share a room with a complete stranger while traveling? The Winston Club is a new startup that offers the chance to book a hotel with a 50 percent discount… but there’s a catch — you won’t be sleeping alone. 

It’s the brainchild of 29-year-old Bryon Shannon, who came up with the idea after struggling to find affordable accommodations. The risky-sounding arrangement, which is currently available in Seattle, Las Vegas, Portland, San Franciso and Los Angeles, is made safe through five verification checks — phone number, professional email at account setup, one verified social media account, a credit card at booking, and one photo ID at check-in — on members. The Seattle-based founder told Metro that he aims to “provide better value, premium hotel comforts, and a more enjoyable experience for solo travelers."

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Q: How did you come up with the idea of the Winston Club?

– I found myself frustrated that in my local neighborhood in downtown Seattle there were no accommodation options that balanced the reliable comfort and convenience of a hotel with the affordability of a shared space. We set out to create an easy and secure way for people to connect when they'd like higher quality experiences than what you'd find on a couch, hostel or room at a private house. 

Q: How does hotel sharing work?

– Verified members merely share biographical information (age, gender, profession) and roommate preferences. Our booking platform pairs them with like-minded travelers who fit their criteria and travel plans, and books the room for them after these details are approved. At that point, all that's left to do is check in at the hotel.

Q: How could it be beneficial?

– When members are saving half on booking rates, the value really is more significant than any standard booking site. In many cities, members can enjoy rates below $100 at top, four star hotels.  

Q: Is it not potentially dangerous?

– All of our members must produce five forms of verification: phone number and email at account setup, one verified social media account and credit card at booking, and one photo ID at check-in. It is the most secure method of room sharing available. No other exciting platforms allow the combination of a secure hotel, vetted members, and ability to select who you stay with before you check in. 

Q: What does the hotel industry have to say?

– There is a massive untapped market of hotel rooms that go unbooked, with pricing being a huge factor, especially as more and more options exist. I am excited to see forward-looking hotel brands take advantage of the unique services, comfort and convenience they offer and aim these benefits at the rapidly growing market of people interested in sharing rooms.

Q: What’s next?

– We feel that travel can be an enriching experience when shared with friendly people and when you truly explore the cities you visit. Whether it's taking a tour of an exciting neighborhood or just visiting a notable restaurant down the street, we are looking at other startups in the sector who curate enjoyable travel experiences in the hope of sharing these offerings with our members.

– By Dmitry Belyaev