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Dear Fellow HomeLinker,

To begin, our sincere thoughts and prayers continue for all those affected by the multiple hurricanes and wildfires this year.  So many of our members were in the paths of these monster storms and fires and we wish all of you strength and perseverance as you recover.  Be safe.  Be well.

In the midst of these horrific storms, we learned of a positive home exchange story in spite of the imminent arrival of Irma. See our Member Stories section to read all about it.  We actually have quite a few exchange stories to share with you in this edition, including an article written by one of our members, so please sit back, grab a mug of warm apple cider and enjoy.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends and home swap travel.  As always, we look forward to hearing about your adventures along the way and of course, are always happy to answer any questions you might have…just ask!

Your Friends,
Karl & Katie

Photo by Karl Costabel

Helpful Hints
Below is a follow-up to our last issue that included some guidance on preparing your home for exchange.  A HomeLink member (since 2012) offered some more ideas for your consideration…

Option For Exchanging Keys:  They write, “…I realize that meeting to exchange keys is a nice experience, but I think you should promote the idea of a lock box. On a recent exchange we had to send two emails 5 days before the exchange to find out from whom we would get the keys to the house.

This experience added some stress on our part regarding the exchange. Their friend waited perhaps an hour for us (we arrived by car) and we felt bad about this.  A lock box with a combination lock allows the exchange party to arrive whenever and however they wish or can. We have such a lock box.”

Some Food For Thought:  To paraphrase the story this member sent, they went on an exchange where a welcome meal was left for them, however it contained meat and they are vegetarians, so the food ended up being wasted. This is something to keep in mind when arranging an exchange, especially if you have specific dietary restrictions.

If you prefer not to leave a welcome meal, you might consider leaving a small gift unique to your area.  It has always been such a pleasant surprise to be welcomed in some way.  In our experience, it sets a nice and friendly tone for our exchange.

~~~

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 expand the number of potential exchange partners to 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.  As a result, they will know your preferences straight away.

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Below is the link to an excerpt from an email we received from a long-time member (since 1995) about her fluctuating expectations with HomeLink home exchanging through the years.  We found her perspective refreshing and hope you are able to take away some helpful information for your future exchanges.

Adapting to Your Surroundings is Part of the Home Swap Adventure

Just a Reminder…
Cancellation Protocol:  To begin, in our experience, home exchange cancellations do not happen on a whim and are more so than not due to unforeseen emergencies. We try to resolve each circumstance on an individual basis, as our experience has also shown each situation is unique.  Generally speaking, when we are contacted about exchange cancellations, no matter the reason, we rally together in an effort to find the affected member(s) an alternate exchange in locations they indicate they are willing to visit.

We have had great success with this process, where fellow HomeLinkers rise to the occasion offering their home as an alternate whether it is with a month or day’s notice!   It is a real honor to be part of such a caring and generous community!

Media…
One of our long-time members (since 2002), Sharon Cutler of Boulder, CO contacted us for input on an article she was writing.  Below is the link to her article that contains very useful information along with stories of their exchange experiences.

Thank you so much, Sharon for including us in your article and getting the word out about our wonderful way of travel.  We wish you and Dan many more interesting and exciting home exchanges!

Love to travel? Try Trading Places, Boulder County Home and Garden, Summer 2017, Text and photos by Sharon Cutler

Member Stories…

Our first anecdote is from our member, Claudia Weston, formerly Claudia Meeks who became engaged while on a HomeLink home exchange, ultimately marrying her dear husband, R.J. Weston.  That is a romantic exchange story in itself, however we were fortunate enough to receive yet another interesting story from Claudia.

Thanks for sharing this with us Claudia and for your continued enthusiasm for the home exchange experience!

She Writes…
“Hi Katie,

We were on a recent exchange to Florence. I am attaching a picture of our view.

Something very interesting happened while we were there. We had treated ourselves to a private tour of the Academia. Our tour guide, a lovely lady of perhaps 50, was a HomeLinker. We were so surprised. She said her children were “raised that way” and they sought out exchanges with other couples who had children roughly the same age as hers.   How is that for a coincidence?  Claudia in Carlsbad”

 ~~~

Our next story is a result of Florida’s bout with Hurricane Irma last month.

A Home Swap Survives Hurricane Irma

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To our pleasant surprise, longtime members (Since 1993!!!) Jack and Agnes Hoffman of Lake Oswego, Oregon, have shared a wonderful tale of forging lasing friendships while on exchange.

Thank you very much, Jack & Agness for sharing this endearing story with all of us and for the 24 years you have chosen HomeLink!

TWO HOME EXCHANGES ~ TEN YEARS APART

IT Update…
Below is the most recent website improvement for your use.  We continue to tweak various speed issues and are now focusing on implementing a responsive design website for those using mobile devices.  We will keep you informed on our progress with this effort.

Message Area Upgrade: 
Unanswered/Outstanding Offers Folder:  We have introduced a new folder to your messaging area for unanswered offers. This will help you keep track of the new exchange offers received in order for you to respond in a timely manner and keep your Response Rate at 100%.

Tip:  You do not have to reply to the message, unless it is a first time exchange request to you. If the message is not an unanswered offer, simply clicking into the conversation to read the entire message sent, is sufficient to be able to delete it.

Tip:  You can reply to unanswered offers from either your “My Conversations” or “Unanswered Offers” folder.  The conversation will be automatically removed from the “Unanswered Offers” folder once your reply is sent.

Tip:  When you receive a reply to an existing conversation, you will see a blinking envelope icon and number “(1)” to the right of “Unanswered Offers” or any other folder title that contains the conversation corresponding to the new message received.

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