Founded in 1953
Originally a paper-based swap service founded by a man focused on swaps for teachers in the U.S. and a woman focused on swaps for armed service people in the UK.
12 languages with country-specific customer service for 27 countries
9000 listings (estimated) – Homelink no longer advertises their total listings, though I did find a claim to 13,000 members buried in the U.S. site. Last year I was able to count members and came up with 10,357. They have made the searches more restrictive so that I can’t pull up counts by region, only by country. Based on a comparison of my counts from last year to this year I believe they have further shrunk in membership. I’m going to conservatively estimate a 10% drop in membership
Listings by region:
- Australia & New Zealand: 966
- North America: 2139
- South America: 33
- Europe: ~ 5000
Searching: The search interface is fast and clean, with options to enter desired destination, number of travelers, and dates to travel. The resulting page allows users to narrow down the search on a variety of standard criteria including people wanting to swap to my city, and to view results either as a list or on a map.
Listings: The overview of each listing returned from searches includes a photo and brief description as well as how many people are in the swap family. This last piece of information is something overlooked by many home exchange search engines, cudos to Homelink for including it. There’s also a map option. Individual listing details have all the relevant information in a nice usable format. They include a response rate for each listing, allowing you to judge which users are the most active and likely to answer your requests.
This site offers the following variations on house swapping:
- simultaneous or non-simultaneous house swap – this is the traditional model where two parties swap houses for an agreed upon set of dates.
- hospitality exchange – this allows people with extra space in their house to host visitors in exchange for being hosted themselves at some other date.
Site Design: Overall the site is easy to use and responsive. I’m not a member of this site so I don’t have much experience beyond playing around with the free searches.
Additional features: The site offers an email system for contacting other members. They have a lot of personal customer service representatives, and a regularly published newsletter. Homelink seems to have removed the Cancellation Fund service, which members used to be able to buy into annually with a pay out to all who have cancellations. They also have country-specific pages which are significantly outdated compared with the general Homelink site. Among other issues, the U.S. website still advertises the cancellation fund and the (inaccurate) number of members.