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Dear Fellow HomeLinker,

Here we are in the middle of Autumn, 2016 already.  Boy oh boy, did that sneak up on us this year! Since we engaged our new IT development team a few months back, we have been very busy keeping pace with their exemplary performance, hence the slight delay in sending this newsletter.

Much has been improved on our site since our new developers came on board, most of which has been related to back-end search function improvements, that have not been visually apparent to our Members and Visitors.  However, we anticipate obvious front-end upgrades to be implemented (hopefully) within the next month or so, which we will all enjoy!  Please see our IT Update section for more detail on all of this.

We decided to retain the information on our Exchange Agreement Form (EAF) system as we continue receiving many inquiries about how it works.

We have also included a couple helpful hints sent in from our members to help toward having successful exchanges.

Don’t miss our Member Stories section that includes a wonderful website created by a fellow HomeLinker.  It’s a very enjoyable and informative read.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with fun, family and memorable home swaps!

Your Friends,
Karl & Katie

                           

Helpful Hints

Arranging Longer-term Exchanges:  An option many of our members find great success with when they wish to travel for a month or more, is to arrange multiple, back-to-back exchanges to accommodate their longer-term travel plans.  This will certainly increase the number of potential exchange partners, including those seeking shorter-term exchanges.The main logistical issue at your end would be to arrange to have someone come into your home in between exchanges to ready it for your next exchange partner’s stay.

Also, if you are open to arranging multiple, shorter-term exchanges we recommend adding this detail at the beginning of your descriptive text field at your “Our Home” page as this is the first text members see when viewing your listing.  This will let them know your plans straight away.

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Replying To Messages from our Message Notification System:  The message notifications we send to your personal email address are “No-reply” emails, so clicking the reply link for your mail browser you would normally click to reply to an email received will not work.

You need to click the “Reply” link found within the content of the notification and follow the prompts from there.

TIP:  If you had previously selected the “Remember me” option for your HomeLink login, you will be taken directly to the message for your response.  Otherwise, you will be directed to the login page where you will log into the site and then navigate to the message for you to reply.  Remember to click the “Remember me” option when logging in to streamline the process for replying to messages in the future.

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Automated Exchange Agreement Form (EAF) System:  Our Home Exchange reporting system is an automated system, where the only way for the system to acknowledge and document your exchanges is by completing our online EAF prior to your exchange.  This system will also prompt you to add Guest Book Comments to your Exchange Partner’s listing and to evaluate your exchange after it is completed.

The links to evaluate your exchange will appear after the dates on the corresponding EAF have passed.  These links and are found under the “Past Exchanges” tab at the “Our Exchange” area of your online account.

Please see our HomeLink Website Help Section for further EAF Instructions.

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Just a Reminder

Keys to Successful Exchanges:

Communication During Your Home Exchange:  One of our members recently sent an email, letting us know how much they enjoyed their first home swap and touched on an important element of successful home swap experiences.  It is important to exchange contact information with your Exchange Partner for use while on exchange. You never know what might happen that would warrant contacting your Exchange Partner, or perhaps, you simply want to share something wonderful you have experienced.  Whatever the case, it is important to have current contact information on hand while on exchange.

Our members write, “We just got back from our vacation and our first homelink exchange, and I couldn’t wait to tell you how much fun it was and what a successful exchange we had! It was SO great. We had a bump in the road in communication, but got that out of the way and ended up having a terrific time with a great vibe and super daily communication. …

Embracing the term, “Go with the flow”:  Relatively new members of ours learned early on that unforeseen obstacles to an exchange may not necessarily have to be a deal-breaker for the exchange.  In their particular situation, their Exchange Partner’s listing showed a pool in one of their photos, implying it was available for their private use.

Unfortunately, it came to their attention very near to the exchange that although the pool was near the exchange home, it was not available for their use.

When contacted about this unfortunate turn of events, we suggested they consider following through with the exchange, as the destination was a lovely place and they would more than likely have a wonderful time despite this disruption in their plans.

We were pleased to receive their follow-up email, confirming our experienced advice paid off for them…they wrote, “I am the member who wrote earlier re the pool photo in St.Martin. We followed your good advise and went ahead with exchage. However, we decided to go for only 6 days though our host stayed in our home for the original 15 day exchange time. The experience was very, very nice. They are lovely and the island was beautiful. Thanks for your guidance.

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Accurately Describe your Home and It’s Surrounding:  The above situation also emphasizes the importance of accurately presenting your home through the photos and descriptive text you include in your listing.

Include photos of the rooms your exchange partners will have access to.  Further, be sure to include details about the amenities your exchange partners will be able to enjoy, such as a private or public, community pool.

The goal is to minimize any surprises for both parties entering into an exchange and providing full information goes along way toward this end.

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HomeLinker Stories

We would love to hear about your HomeLinking experiences so please email us your stories to include in our forthcoming newsletters.

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Below is a link to a narrative from new members of ours, Alex & Deb Fernandez from Maryland who found great success through HomeLink soon after joining.  Included in their story is a link to the website they created that depicts their travels in delightful fashion!

We hope you enjoy this as much as we have.

Our Amazing First Year of Home Exchanging!

Thank you very much for sharing this with us, Alex & Deb and congratulations on a job well done with your travel site!

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Below is brief commentary from fellow HomeLinkers, Lorraine & Harvey Waxman from Baltimore, MD.  It also includes some helpful hints for all of us to consider.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Harvy and Lorraie and for all the years you have chosen HomeLink!  (Since 2011!)

They write… 

Hello Karl and Karl!

We just had a lovely exchange with our Exchange Partners, Bill & Gail Hartman from Myrtle Beach, SC and long-time HomeLinkers (since 2005!) and wanted HomeLink to know there was another success.

In speaking for Harvey and myself, the home was as promised; it was in an amenity-laden, beautifully landscaped community, which was not far from it’s private beach, restaurants, and entertainment( LOTS of entertainment.)

Their home is extraordinarily pristine and organized, and we had exchanged local information prior to our visits. Each of us had typed up a letter of instructions for ease of recommendations, plus our suggestions for personal choices of restaurants, etc. so, all went smoothly .

They actually provided a portal GPS loaded with destinations for us. Great idea too!

We thought you might enjoy knowing this story with a happy ending.

Sincerely, Lorraine and Harvey Waxman Baltimore Waterfront

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Media

Longtime members (Since 1997!), Kerry Brock & Mary Lawton of Santa Fe, NM shared this arcticle they participated in.

They write, “Katie & Karl, here is an article I helped do in a local but major paper. I hope you enjoy it and the positive image it created for Home Exchanging.”

Exchange Websites offer a different way to vacation, experience a new place

Thanks Kerry & Mary for all the years you have remained home exchange (namely HomeLink 🙂 ) enthusiasts!

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IT Update

Updating Your ‘Member Since’ Date & # of Previous Exchanges:  Karl & I are now able to update both the year you joined & number of previous exchanges you have been on, rather than asking our IT Developers to do so.  Therefore, please have a look at your listing and let us know if there are any changes to be made.

The simplest way to do this is to login and then enter your membership number or last name in the “People Search” field in the upper right area of our homepage and click “Search”.

Both of these items are found down the left side of your listing’s main page (below your photos and home description).

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New Capability to Save Drafts of Messages and Exchange Agreement Forms (EAF):

Messaging Area:  As a result of your feedback, we have introduced the ability to save messages as drafts before sending them to your exchange partner.  After a few seconds of typing a message, the “Save as Draft” button will appear below the text box.  Then you are able to navigate away from your messaging area or come back to finish your message later on.

To do so, after saving your message as a draft and you want to return to the message, click the envelope icon to the right of your name after logging in and then click on Draft Message found to the right of the inbox title, “Conversations With ()”.

EAF Area:  If you wish to enter partial details on an EAF and come back to it later to complete, after entering details on an Exchange Agreement Form, look to the bottom of the page and click “Save as Draft”.

To navigate back to the EAF to complete and send to your exchange partner:

  1. Login
  2. Click on your name in the upper right corner of the page and select “Our Exchanges”
  3. Click the “Draft Exchanges” tab
  4. Click “Continue with draft”
  5. Enter your details
  6. When you are happy with your changes, click the “Save, Comment & Submit” or “Validate” button at the bottom right of the page.

This will send the form to your Exchange Partner to finish adding their details and Validate the form.  Once both of you have clicked the “Validate” button, it will be finalized.

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Ongoing Search Function Improvements:  We continue to tweak our search function pertaining to speed and more recently to the accuracy of search results received.  Please continue sending us reports of any destination search issues you find, as improving our search function will be an ongoing, ever-evolving effort.

The exciting news is that we are soon to introduce a much more user-friendly search function design, which will include a new layout of the search results where you will see interactive, side-by-side Map & List views.  This is just one of many new design features you will enjoy.

We are in the final phase of this redesign work and hope to have this introduced in the next month or so.  We hope this new design’s functionality will prove to be self explanatory, however, please don’t hesitate contacting us with any questions you might have.  We are here to help!

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Click below for to see some Fellow HomeLinkers seeking USA exchanges.  The first few are short notice exchanges for you to consider.

Seeking a USA Home Exchange

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