Dear Fellow HomeLinker,
We hope you enjoyed your holiday season and are staying warm and well during this, our busiest time for arranging exchanges. Since many of our members are spending this time seeking and arranging their 2016 travel plans, we want to direct your attention to our
“Helpful Hints” section that includes a description of our automated Exchange Agreement Form (EAF) system. The new EAF is much simpler than our previous form and the new system requires completing an EAF to follow-through with your evaluation of the form after the fact.
You will also find useful information in this section corresponding to recent member inquiries on a few items.
We continue our commitment to improving our new website and have significantly improved the speed and accuracy of our search function, including a new look for our homepage where you begin your search. Please our see the “IT Update” section for more detail and new search instructions.
Another important item found here addresses the end of maintaining our Legacy Site.
Our “Just a Reminder” section includes a follow-up to our Exchange Etiquette section from our previous newsletter emphasizing the importance of maintaining communication with your Exchange Partner during your exchange.
We wish you a warm and wonderful winter season and please don’t hesitate contacting us with any questions you might have. We are here to help!
Karl & Katie
Automated Exchange Agreement Form 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 Exchange Agreement Form (EAF). 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 competed.
Deleting Conversations: Our messaging system requires you first click into a conversation to read the most recent message sent to you and when you go back to your inbox (a.k.a. “Conversations With ()” page), you will see the “delete” link.
After you are logged in (you know you are logged in when you see your name in the upper right corner of the page), click the envelope icon just to the right of your name. This envelope icon takes you to your inbox.
Unread/unanswered offers are indicated with a blue background. Once you click into the conversation, the background will turn to white (at your inbox) and the number in the envelope icon will decrease by 1.
Next, click the “BACK TO ALL CONVERSATIONS” link found in upper right area of the page, which takes you back to your inbox where you will now see the “delete” link corresponding to this conversation.
Please Note: 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.
Viewing Your Own Listing Through Search Results: Rest assured, your listing is showing in our search results. However, currently, you cannot view your own through the search function while logged in. You can view it through the search function when you are logged out.
You know you are logged in when you see your name in the upper right corner of the page. To log out, click on your name and select “Log out” from the drop down menu.
Just a Reminder…
Exchange Etiquette: We received valued feedback from our last newsletter about our section on Exchange Etiquette, so thought it best to follow-up with their relevant stories and sage in an effort to serve as a guide for all of us on this important element of home swapping.
As stated previously, although we appreciate our fellow HomeLinkers accept that home swapping comes with its own idiosyncrasies and adapt to most reasonable scenarios during their exchanges, we continue receiving reports of circumstances that are not acceptable. Therefore, we believe it our responsibility to include this as a reminder of proper exchange etiquette.
One of the subsequent cautionary tales received described how they had arranged two back-to-back exchanges, having two different exchange partners stay in their home during their time abroad. Unfortunately, their first exchange partners experience car trouble with the exchange care without informing them, so their 2nd exchange partners we faced with having to repair the car upon their arrival.
Although rare in occurrence, accidents and unforeseen problems with plumbing or appliances, etc. do happen while on exchange.
The most important first step when anything unfortunate happens while on exchange is to contact your Exchange Partner as soon as possible to at least inform them of the event and if need be, make arrangements to resolve the matter.
We have included various “detail” fields on our Exchange Agreement Forms where you can enter specific expectations, instructions, etc. for your exchange partner including how to contact one another while on exchange. We encourage everyone to complete an Exchange Agreement Form to avoid any misunderstandings or surprises.
Maintain Current Membership Status While on Exchange: A member recently reminded us that it is always recommended to have a current HomeLink membership while on exchange for a number of reasons. She wrote, …”Besides being ethical, continued membership allows Exchange Partners to read/clarify [through the HomeLink website] anything our memory has lost between agreement and arrival at the property. As one of our early exchange partners said, “Everything in our listing is part of the contract.” Rather than restating all that is in the listing, it was really very clear.”
Further, current membership will ensure full HomeLink support for both parties while on exchange.
Provide Informational Manual For Your Home & Vicinity: The story below is a good reminder to provide a “Home & Vicinity” manual for your Exchange Partner, to include instructions for unusual/unique appliances in your home…
Our members wrote,
“…Berlin was really very interesting. …One detail elicited a funny question to us from the exchange family who followed us. “Did you manage to get hot water from the kitchen faucet? Have yet to figure out the white plastic “space ship” sitting on top of the faucet. I’m guessing it either filters or preheats water. Not likely to be a filter ….”
Upon returning home we found out the “space ship” is called a boiler. Three knobs and time make limited hot water available. Both bathrooms’ hot water was on tap as at home. We feel fortunate to have stayed in an area which was so full of ‘unknown’ historical sights.
We would love to hear about your HomeLinking experiences so please do email those stories to us with your stories to include in our forthcoming newsletters at mailto:Katie@homelink-usa.org
A longtime HomeLinker, (nearing 30 years!) wrote to us with a brief intro to a recent exchange of theirs, with a shout out to a particular part of Italy. We hope to receive more detail on this exchange of theirs to include in our next newsletter.
Lovely Italian Swap
“I just completed an exchange in Italy through HomeLink which worked out wonderfully. It was my Italian swap partner’s first exchange, and in an area of Italy with which we were not familiar – we weren’t sure what to expect (Lago de Garda). We were thrilled with the beauty of the area, with the house we swapped for.. everything was wonderful.”
Below is an enjoyable anecdote we received from Paul & Marie Murphy, one of our HomeLink Ireland colleagues. This shows HomeLinkers around the world hold themselves to the highest standards for home swapping!
My house, it was as if the tooth fairy had visited
We are writing to say what a wonderful first exchange experience we had from with Homelink. We went to Angers France. It was such a beautiful city in the Loire and we got such a lovely exchange family who gave us an 8-seater vehicle, 5 bedroom house with a cellar full of toys and all their diving, beach and camping equipment. They even had a fabulous meal ready for us with food specialties and wine from the Loire region. We had left everything at their disposal in our home.
I can only say that when I returned to my house it was as if the tooth fairy had visited. It was perfect, so clean. My pets were fatter and content and my flowers all watered. I have been marketing HomeLink since!!
HomeLink Legacy Site Update: As previously reported, the downward trend of our members accessing the Legacy Site for previous correspondence, etc. continues.
Therefore, we are planning to phase this out by February 29, 2016. Therefore, please take some time over the next few weeks to access your listing at the Legacy Site to transfer any exchange agreement information, messages, member contact information, etc. to your computer for your long term reference.
Access the legacy site at: http://legacy.homelink.org, you log in with your Home Link Member Number and password used at the old site. If you need this login info or need help with transferring any pertinent information to retain in your records, please send us a request at Katie@homelink-usa.org
Ongoing Search Function Improvements: Since our last newsletter we have significantly improved the speed of our search function with regards to performing a search and loading listings from the search results.
We have also changed the look of our homepage re-introducing a country list from which you can begin your search. You can also enter a specific destination from the new, “Where do you want to go” field.
Below are instructions for a simple destination search using “Netherlands, Amsterdam” as an example.
Destination Search (example: “Amsterdam, Netherlands”) after logging into the site:
1. begin entering “Amsterdam” in the “Where do you want to go?” field on our homepage and then select “Amsterdam, Netherlands” from the drop down list provided. The Google-based search requires selecting your destination from the drop-down selection list.
2. click the magnifying glass icon
Reverse Search: Some of our members have been inquiring about our Reverse Search feature. The Reverse Search field is a secondary search field that appears with the search results after a simple destination search from our homepage.
This field is found just to the right of the “Where” field at the top of the search results page and is titled, “Enter country of your home”. Currently, this field only orders the results according to the country level, so entering, for example, “Washington DC, United States” in this field will result in listings that have entered “USA” or “Any City, USA” in their Dates & Destinations section. We are soon to improve this function so it will reference down to at least the region/state level, perhaps the city level. At this point, simply enter/select “United States” in this field and click “OK”, if you choose to do so.
Tip: After you click into a listing to view it from the search results and then you want to return to your list of results, scroll to the top right side above the listing you are viewing and click “Back to search results”.
Tip: If you want to return to your search results after sending a message to a member, click the web browser back arrow once and then click the “Back to search results” link.
This is the busiest time of year for seeking your Summer exchanges.
Click below for are a few ideas to inspire….