Review date: June 2016
Founded in 1953
$99/year, 20 day free trial
Started in Europe by some teachers
All but about 1000 of their listings are in Europe, but searches don’t return counts making it difficult to determine exact numbers by country or continent. For this reason I’m unable to update my listing count. Here are some reference searches returning number of listings by country:
United States: 495
Review updates: I last reviewed Intervac in 2014. Then last year I wrote about why I was letting my Intervac subscription expire. Just recently I received an email from Intervac about some updates to their website and these really merit an updated review. I haven’t seen any substantive changes from them in two years so this is kind of a big deal, and they addressed some of the reasons I left Intervac last year, though not enough of them to lure me back into membership.
Searching: The search functionality has been significantly improved, including a more focused location search, better display and usability of filters, allowing users to save searches, and the ability to only search on people interested in a swap to your city. In addition they have added in a filter to limit the size of the swap family, a key gap in many home exchange network’s search functionality. They also made it possible to see if you’ve already contacted someone right in the search results, which will be a big time saver for members.
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. Non-simultaneous works best with second homes, but is also useful for people going on vacation and leaving their home empty. In this case each party picks different dates for the swap.
- vacation rental – the usual rental system applies here, and owners collect payment via this site.
- hospitality exchange – this allows people with extra space in their house to host visitors in exchange for being hosted themselves at some other date. Intervac offers a “Bed and Breakfast” variation on this which allows members to host others without fee and without reciprocity.
Additional features: Intervac has an internal messaging system for contact between members. Members are generally very responsive. Intervac has a solid reputation among experienced swappers, but they don’t seem to be aggressively working to expand membership or update services and they may end up victim to the many new sites in the market. I found the messaging system a bit dated and hard to use, and I don’t see any information suggesting this has been updated, though without a membership I can’t confirm this on the site.
Site design: I find the new look for searches very nice and easy to use. When I reviewed them in 2014 I had some concern that the Intervac website didn’t provide an indication on the home page of new messages in your inbox, and finding your inbox was not particularly easy. This may have been addressed and just not announced publicly, but I saw no mention of this on the blog posts about website updates.