Welcome to our Summer 2012 edition of HomeLink home exchange Connection!
We hope you are enjoying your summer travels and making the most of warm, well, okay, blazing hot temperatures we have been experiencing lately.
Since our busy travel season is upon us, we want to remind you Karl & I are here to help you anyway we can. We have actually become more accessible through our recently rejuvenated HomeLink USA facebook page and new Twitter page. Please refer to our “Internet Technology” section for more on this.
As always, we continue to be available through our email address, email@example.com and phone, 800-638-3841
We have added a new section to our newsletter, which introduces two HomeLinkers who have embraced the blogosphere. You will find their blogs very informative and entertaining. Please refer to the “Member Blog Sites” section for more information.
Our Media Focus includes three recent articles. The first two were sent in by HomeLink USA members, which contain entertaining and useful information for all HomeLinkers, no matter your level of home exchange experience.
We hope you enjoy our newsletter and, as always, welcome any feedback you may have: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great Summer!
Karl & Katie Costabel
HomeLink USA News
Just a Reminder…
Email Address Updates:
As always, please continue to notify us at email@example.com with your email address updates so we can properly update our local database. Our occasional messages to you, including this newsletter, are sent from our local database.
New Home Location Updates:
If you happen to relocate while continuing your HomeLink home exchange membership and wish to replace your previous address with your new address, please let us know your new address (at least zipcode) so we can properly position your new location in our database.
Respond to All Exchange Requests Received:.
We certainly appreciate responding to all home exchange requests received can be burdensome at times, especially for those members with homes in the more popular destinations. We also realize this is a double-sided issue and wish to address both.
To begin, we, as HomeLink Organizers, encourage all of our respective members to continue replying to all messages received for a couple reasons. First, it is the polite and respectful thing to do and second because of our Response Rate feature as many of our members shy away from listings with low percentage rates.
We wish we could magically remove the onerous task of replying to all the requests received, but want to assure you that the automated “No Thank You” message is more than just those words. Below is the actual message content,
“Thank you for your kind offer. Unfortunately I cannot accept as it does not suit my plans at this time. I wish you all the best with finding a suitable exchange.”
Our automated response is especially intended to help those HomeLinkers who receive numerous requests on a regular basis. This automated response is designed to minimize the time it takes responding personally to the numerous requests received and enables the sender to move forward with their efforts in finding a suitable exchange.
The flip-side of this issue comes from the sender’s side. Please do not send home exchange requests based solely on a home’s location. It is very important to read the entire listing’s contents (Preferred Dates & Destinations, home details and descriptions, etc) of your potential exchange partners to make sure your basic details are a good match.
As always, this mutual respect for one another is essential for successful home exchanging and we appreciate your considered efforts in both sending and replying to your home exchange requests.
Complete our Exchange Evaluation Forms:
These forms serve as a useful reference for your future home exchanges. Be sure to request your home exchange partner also completes the form.
We felt it was time for HomeLink USA to finally become an active participant in today’s ever-evolving world social networking and word-of-mouth marketing.
We encourage all of you to visit our new social networking pages and add your feedback and photos, post comments, exchange requests, etc. We hope these sites develop into a useful forum for all of us to benefit from.
Member Blog Sites…
More and more HomeLink members are creating their own blogs on home swapping. Below are two of these.
We send our sincerest thanks to our HomeLink bloggers, Shelley Miller & Sigrun Buckley, for getting the word out there about home swapping and encourage all who have a blog site to share them with us. We will certainly include them in future HomeLInk Connection newsletters and plan to add a HomeLink USA web page containing your blog links.
Shelley Miller has kindly shared her blog with us and has written numerous, very helpful articles about the world of home exchanging. Below is the link to her blog. Further, please read our “Media Focus” section immediately following this for a direct link to one of her articles published in the Huffington Post Travel Blogs.
Sigrun Buckley is another HomeLink member who enthusiastically blogs about her home exchange travels. Below is the direct link to her blog.
Our first article is brought to us from our HomeLink USA member, Shelley Miller. This is only one of many articles she continues writing about home swapping. We hope you enjoy her article along with her comprehensive blog mentioned above.
A Virtually Free Vacation Can Be Yours When You Home Swap And Use Air Miles, by Shelley Miller, Home Exchange Expert, The Huffington Post Travel Blogs, April 2012
The following article was written by our HomeLink USA member, Margaret Foley. She provides a well-rounded article about the home swap experience and also introduces to the interesting website, BootsnAll.com, for the travel enthusiast.
Why a Home Exchange is a Great Indie Travel Experience, by Margaret Foley, BootsnAll One-Stop Indie Travel Guide, May 29
Author, Nora Dunn, just sent us the link (below) to the informative article she wrote on home exchanging. We hope you enjoy reading her article as much as we have and are able to take away valuable information for your next exchange.
Home Exchanges: Free Accommodations With Perks, by Nora Dunn, Wisebread.com, July 10, 2012
We would very much like to hear about your home swapping stories and include them in an upcoming HomeLink Connection newsletter. Please send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know if it would be okay to include your name.
We have actually received so many stories over the past few months, that we were unable to include them all in this newsletter, but promise they will be included eventually. Thanks, again, to all of you for such a wonderful response to this section!
Also, per multiple requests we have received from our members, we are now including the lengthier member stories through a hyperlink to the story. Simply click on the corresponding link to enjoy reading about their wonderful home swap experiences.
The first story is the third of three that were sent to us from Bill & Patty of Arizona.
Patty & Bill,
Thank you for sharing your adventures with all of us! Meeting new friends along the way has always been the icing on the cake for us and you have certainly made the most of this added benefit of HomeLinking!
The next story has been sent to us from Patricia & John of Key West, Florida.
Their adventure was enjoyed through an exchange they went on last Fall.
Patricia & John,
It is always amazing to share local cuisine tips with our home exchange partners, and your experience has brought this to a new level, my mouth is watering! Thank you for sending this to us.
New HomeLink Discussion Forum:
Looking for some expert advise about home exchange from our HomeLink members around the world? Try our new Discussion Forum.
Accessing the Discussion Forum is simpler than ever before! Just login and click the “Discussion Forum” link found under “Member Options” at the far left side of the Database Main Page.
Please note that this Forum is in its infancy stage and, therefore is not completely bug-free. One known bug that is being worked on is that our members receive an Error message when they click to post their comment to the forum. Please know that the comment is being posted despite the Error message received, so there is no need to re-post your comment.
Despite the few minor bugs we are dealing with, we felt it imperative to get this out to our members now as there was quite an outcry when we were forced to abandon our old forum.
We appreciate your patience as we work through these few kinks and encourage you to report any bugs you experience to email@example.com
Sorting Search Results:
We currently have various options for grouping (sorting) your search results. These options are found at the bottom of the page(s) of your search results under the pull-down menu titled, “Sort by”
Here you can sort by the “Location” column, the “post code” (zipcode) field within the listing, “Country/Region”, etc. The system defaults to sorting by “Country/Region” and then “Location” (both alphabetically).
Printing A Listing To View:
Our longtime members, Syd & Jo, recently inquired about a process to print a member’s listing they are interested in. I sent them very detailed instructions for taking a snapshot of the page, saving as a PDF document, blah, blah, blah, but they actually replied with a much more expedient process they discovered on the HomeLink website!
We sincerely thank Syd & Jo for teaching us this.
Below are their very simple and clear instructions for printing a particular listing from our site. The only requirement is that the member has already sent you a message.
HomeLink Printing of Listing for a PC
1. go to the HomeLInk USA website, https://www.homelink.org/usa
2. sign in
3. select the red “Messaging” link found under “Member options” at the left of the Database Main Page
4. select a message from the exchange members whose listing you want to print
5. go the Print Preview link (far right link found above message area)
6. click on the listing location link or the photo link at the top
This should get you the listing without the marginal information on the normal page. You can print just the listing.
7. Ctl, Shift, P [gets you the color printing]
Add Photos of Interest:
Members can upload up to 20 photos to each of their listings and we encourage you to add as many as possible. This will only add to the appeal of your home.
A HomeLink member has sent helpful suggestions for the types of photos to include.
Be sure to add photos of:
1. ALL rooms in your home, including bedrooms, living areas, kitchen & dining areas and all bathrooms.
2. Views from your windows, balconies, decks and patios
3. Artwork on the walls
4. Outside living areas, flowers in the garden, condo complex amenities (pool, tennis courts, clubhouse, etc)
5. Exterior shots of your home or condo building
6. Photos of yourselves We find this adds a nice, personal touch to a listing.
Viewing HomeLink Photo Albums:
We have been receiving many inquiries lately about the inability to view a member’s photo album after clicking on the photo section of their listing.
Depending on the number of windows you have opened at your computer, sometimes when you click on a thumbnail photo to view a member’s photo album, the photo album window opens up behind the main window you are viewing.
We recommend clearing your computer’s browsing history/cookies/cache. This function is usually found under the “Tools” or “History” or “File” > “Preferences” menu of your web browser (Firefox, MSIE, etc).
Next, either restart your computer or close your browser and restart it. Then go to a listing to view their photos. If their photo album doesn’t appear, reduce the HomeLink window and see if the photo album window moves to the front for viewing.
HomeLink International News
The members included in the link to this section (below) have contacted their respective HomeLink Organizer, asking for their help in finding a home exchange or were chosen by us from our Short Notice List.
This feature is still in its infancy and we will certainly include any of our USA members who have been unable to find a US exchange after an exhaustive search.
Further, if any of you have been unsuccessful in finding an exchange abroad, we would be happy to forward your situation and preferences to our corresponding HomeLink Organizer. After all, we are here to help all of our members in anyway we can.
Of course, we are pleased to bring this section to you, but also need to let you know that there is potential for us to be overwhelmed with requests for help in finding exchanges. Therefore, we feel the need to emphasize that we will do our best to help, but encourage you to make a sincere and proactive effort in finding an exchange before asking for our help.
Northern Light Show:
This was sent to us from our HomeLink Norway colleague, Arne:
International Places of Interest…
Below are a couple links sent to us from Annalisa, our HomeLInk Italy colleague. We hope you find the time to visit these places while visiting Italy.
Annalisa writes,”Ciao, here is an interesting message from my subscriber who runs Rome Goethe’s house..in case someone is in Rome and wants to see something special..Annalisa“