This week the new Home Exchange network was launched, merging HomeExchange.com and GuesttoGuest. This follows on the acquisition of HomeExchange.com by GuesttoGuest almost two years ago. At that time GuesttoGuest said it planned to keep the two brands separate. Emmanuel Arnaud, one of the founders of GuesttoGuest, spoke with me about the future of the two networks shortly after the merger.
I think it was smart to wait a while before making major changes. But I see no good reason to keep the brands separate long term. That defeats the point of the acquisition. And a well done integration of networks should result in a much larger pool of potential swaps for all members. Unfortunately, the integration has been anything but smooth.
The technical team choose the GuesttoGuest web interface for the new website. I think this was an unfortunate choice from a user experience perspective. I’ve always found this website less slick than others. HomeExchange.com, on the other hand, had a pretty nice interface. I’d guess the reasons for this have more to do with the backend, including the Guest Point system and the insurance built in to the new site that came over from GuesttoGuest.
A lot of people from the HomeExchange.com network are unhappy. I think in large part this is due to the lack of testing of the new website before it was rolled out. It sounds like even the ambassadors for these networks weren’t given a chance to test and provide feedback. And a lot of features from the old HomeExchange.com website have not yet been integrated. Further, many people had log in issues. And others found their home profiles partly or entirely lost. (I now have duplicate profiles, but not much information was lost).
I think GuesttoGuest (now called Home Exchange) could have handled the technical side of this integration much better. And they should have done more to prepare people for the changes. The technical issues can be fixed. But there will always be people who are unhappy about the merger because they don’t like the new system. Most of the complaints I’m hearing are around the conversion of HomeExchange.com’s Balloons into the Guest Point system used by GuesttoGuest. Many people feel that Guest Points devalue the home swap ethos. They don’t like putting a value on homes. It’s too similar to an Airbnb price per night. Instead these folks want to focus on simultaneous and non-simultaneous swaps. Some people are setting their home value to 1 in protest, and making it clear in their profiles that they will not participate in points-based swaps.
In the coming year we may see some significant fallout from this merger. I expect some people will leave the new behemoth network that is Home Exchange. This could be a boon for the smaller networks as these folks want to continue house swapping. But it’s also possible that people will adapt to the change. Change is always hard. Hopefully this integration will lead to lots more opportunities for swaps with the expanded membership. The new Home Exchange network claims 400,000 members in 187 countries.
I was recently looking to exchange some guest points for a short trip to the Keys and I found some owners not wanting to accept points. I’m not totally understanding why owners are against this. It provides more flexibility for everyone. Use the points, don’t use them. Your choice.
I do, however, understand the gripes about the rollout. Wow…maybe one of the worst rollouts I’ve ever seen. Who tested this proior to launch? Yikes!
If anyone can succinctly offer me an explanation of why a user would not be open to the flexibilty of guest points other than the culture of simultaneous home exchange, I’d love to hear it. And I say this as a fellow exchanger just tyring to understand.
Jan, you’d be VERY welcome to try our site. It’s free and you’ll probably find a lot of people just like you. 🙂
I, too, will be leaving HomeExchange.com altho’ we’ve enjoyed many pleasurable exchanges through the site in years gone by. We happen to live in Hawaii and have 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a swimming pool and 180 degree ocean view of blue, blue water. I was never looking for a similar property when traveling, but I understand that now people with a very modest home may not have enough points to exchange with us! Also, I apparently missed my renewal date and now they want me to post a $500 security deposit and charge me $15 a night when I exchange!!!! *@#$ THAT !!!!
Too bad when ever there’s anything beautiful or nice in the world, some greedy person has to come along and ruin it!
@Jan : deposit and $15 are for “Essential” members who don’t take the Optimum membership. If you take it (equivalent to old annual fee on HE), deposit is included and no other fees are needed. And you can also do reciprocal exchanges like before, without points.
Jan, next time you think you have some valid criticism, suggest you ask the homeexchange.com help people- I have found that they are very good at explaining all this new complexity! Had you done so before wriing the above, you would have been reassured that you can still swap your house for another just as before.
Not a problem!
NO, THEY HAVE NOT BEEN HELPFUL TO US. We have found them to be rigid and snotty in their replies, requests to appeal to a higher authority or manager are ignored. We made a simple requests ie, to have our home location listed to be more accurate (the same as it was listed before the merger, which was easily fixed by the previous home exchange site with one phone call).
Ok so I figured out a way around the problem, though it would have been nice for their customer service people to try to help me solve the issue rather than just keep saying that I couldn’t increase my points. I changed the location of my house–I guess it is 30 minutes from an International site–though I couldn’t find an explanation for what that means
My problem is #1 they are not accepting phone calls, just emails. #2 The will not let me increase the number of points I charge saying due to the size of my house and location 132 points is the max but there are a number of other smaller, condos in my area actually that charge more points than I do. I don’t get it and they don’t have any reasonable explanation for me. I sent them screen shots of the other homes around me-no response yet–Im pissed!
Oh yes#3 No warning about the merger, just couldn’t get on the Guest to Guest site one day.
Agree that the new interface is much worse than the previous, and I have an intense dislike of the site now. There are many listings without photos, which is ridiculous. And I’m left with all these points which no one now wants to accept. I’m looking for an alternative. Has anyone tried Love Home Swap?
Cathy you can read my reviews of all the networks here: https://sharetraveler.com/house-swap-website-reviews/
Cathy, you are very welcome to try ours: https://peoplelikeus.world and our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/peoplelikeus.world/. You’ll see some familiar faces there.
Lovehomeswap is great ! The quality of the website and homes are far superior to what home exchange has morphed into.
@Mirka : I’m volunteer for HE website. I can tell you that Richard is not a member of the website’s team. Anyway, I understand you could be angry and don’t like this new platform, but I think it’s not a reason to talk like this (to anybody, Richard or a team member). Have a nice day anyway.
The reverse search doesn’t work period and it’s impossible to do a flexible search with the new calendar. The new site is just unworkable – all at the very time that most people are searching for next summer’s exchanges. It’s an unholy mess.
Looking into recovering our membership fee via the 2015 Consumer Rights Act as the service we paid for is not fit for purpose.
How can you do a simultaneous long term exchange with máximum 2 people travelling (what I used to do in the real HE) when they’ve removed the possibility to do that seach?
It’s a plain lie that we can keep doing It. Yes, maybe, after clicking in one thousand listings…
It makes me really angry how they’ve just forced us to change to G2G not even with a warning.
No Diana, you could search for this. You have “long term exchange” group in the “groups” section (marked with 14 logo). Once you have registered to this group, you can activate it in your search, and it filters member who belongs to this group in the area you’re looking for.
I would like to get points for my balloons for the stays that have already happened, I found the way we were informed about rules change
very dishonest and not acceptable. The website is a mess. People should be warned.
It seems to me that you are one of the happiness team members trying to calm things down. Shame on you.
Mirka, before doubting my integrity (“shame on you” etc) maybe you should check out what has happened before you joined this discussion… you will find ample evidence that before the merger we were just about to leave homexchange.com for Guest to Guest after 22 years membership with two properties due to our dissatisfaction with them!
Suggesting I am part of their propaganda team just because I don’t agree with you is a bit childish!
Many people have different opinions about these things, and we are all entitled to put our own points of view like adults and hopefully without rude accusations.
There are many dissatisfied people, I have talked to dozen of our veteran home exchange partners and I will be launching a social media campaign next week #homeexchangefraud.
I don’t get it Mirka… For 24 years to my knowledge, home exchange .com had no points or balloons and we were all happy. Then they offered the use of balloons to give us more flexibility, and now guest points which I think are even more flexible, and which we love. But no one has to USE them.. why not just carry on doing simultaneous and non sim exchanges if you don’t like the points? Why stir up trouble when time will tell who is using the different stystems. Let’s look at the whole thing in 12 months and then suggest improvments if we can come up with any! Give the new concept a chance to work… We love the extra flexibility!
And the mandatory €500 deposit???
I’m one of those who have set their GP to 0. HE estimated ‘value’ 260GP – but TOTALLY IRRELEVANT. The point of home exchange is mutual trust and risk by reciprocal exchange. The equivalence in an exchange should be decided by the exchangers NOT by some arbitrary point system.
The GP system – especially with the bribery – reminds me of some dodgy ponzi scheme. HE using the future goodwill of homeexchangers to finance GPs that have no asset backing and no cash in value – a very dodgy ‘bitcoin’ equivalent. It smells like three week old fish.
@kristian : Indeed, the functions you’re talking like badges or key search, lists ( which should arrive in a few weeks) etc are not available anymore, but maybe it would come back later.
The new website of home exchange is so ugly and is not very user friendly. The only positive thing is a new feature where you can see who loves your home.
There are many problems:
– All badges lost (people have worked very hard for these)
– Lousy search engine (I.e. not possible to use search categories like Skiing)
– The site is becoming more like AirBnb less friendly
I’m Etienne, member and volunteer ambassador of HomeExchange.
To answer you Peter :
members should have received the communication about the merger. There were several emails sent last weeks , didn’t you get it ? (maybe in “Spam” box ?). There were also publications on social medias (Facebook, Twitter etc), but some members apparently didn’t get the right information , sorry about that.
For the rest : a baloon has been transformed to 1500 guestpoints. Members who had no baloons have points from the transfert. No points offered for the already Guesttoguest members. The annual subscription remains valid until it’s end. The Homeexchange service now covers all finalised exchanges yes.
A lot of answers here too : https://homeexchangehelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/categories/360000093477-What-s-new-
Hope it could help you.
Have a nice day
PS : Richard, thanks for your opinion.
I have been a memeber of Homeexchnge since 2013. I am really dissapointed with the merge. I am facing many problems , I am not receiving emails with requests or answers . I have to go to the homeexchange page to see if there is any . You have transformed a way of travelling based on GENEROSITY and TRUST into a system based on money and points !! which one costs less and which one costs less … if you do not have all Guest points you have to pay cash …. to homeexchange guest to guest owners !!! Great idea for them but not for me . I am totally dissapointed . Unfortunatelly I have paid my suscription before receiving all these changes , so I will saty till the end of my membership but I will definitely look for the old way of home exchanges on other network
Etienne, since you seem to know a lot about Homeexchange, could you tell me, is there such a thing as HomeExchange plus or Luxury or something of hte sort. They used to have a different membership for luxury properties. I have a beautiful large apartment in Paris and presently am receiving 3 to 6 requests everyday for exchange. Some requests offer me very small basic properties which are not in line with what I am offering. This is not working for me.
I prefer the points system, and disliked the balloon- I frequently turned down exchanges where I would have had to provide say two weeks in my much nicer house for one balloon which I might only have used for one week in a more modest property. The points system of G2G allows us to accept more guests as we can use the points elsewhere later- you can’t always do a simultaneous swap!
I think they have it right!
I am very displeased by the point valuation system. I ask — what is a “much nicer house” vs. “a more modest property?” I have a fairly modest house (no master bath, no garage, no pool) but since it is located in a high cost metropolitan area it is valued at nearly $1M, whereas I could buy a mansion in a different city (or country) with a much lower property value and have an infinity pool and 8 bedrooms for a lot less money. Do we now start listing home resale value? I hope not. In addition a “modest property” may be in a great location which makes it very desirable and an equal or better swap even if it is two weeks for one week. The user decides how they spend their balloon and what it is worth. In my opinion, the G2G point system is arbitrary (again one person may value metro access higher than a jacuzzi tub or vice versa) and drives perceived inequalities and erodes the humanity that the old home exchange site had (prior to balloons). I will be looking for a different site that is more focused on old-fashioned simultaneous swaps without a point value labeled on every home — very disappointing!
I humbly offer our site, People Like Us, for you to try. We’re not big but we’re growing and you’ll find some of the nicest home exchangers in the world who, I believe, share your ideals about home exchange. We are developing a points system now (we call them “Moons”) which makes no arbitrary valuation of your home or location but just exchanges one Moon per night for non-simultaneous swaps. We asked our members and most preferred that system. We have a Facebook group here too: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1952476815051268/
As one of those smaller networks, we’d be over the moon to accept new members who are looking for alternatives. We’re a very friendly place and we’re developing a points system which will be one point per night for non-simultaneous swaps, so everyone is equal. The site is free to join, list and swap.
Please try us out. We’re called People Like Us, https://peoplelikeus.world and we have a Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1952476815051268/
As Dawn says many questions.
Here are some of mine just sent today:
I didn’t get any communication either from HomeExchange nor G2G
I find this incredible.
What is the exchange rate for balloons and how was it arrived at?
Did any of our earned points get given away for members of HE who had no balloons?
Were any of our points given freely to G2G members as part of the merger?
What is the subscription situation going forwards?
Does the G2G insurance system now also cover existing and or in progress HE exchanges?