Home Exchange

HomeExchange Integration Fallout

HomeExchange integration

There has been a lot of anger and disappointment from HomeExchange.com members after their network was integrated into GuesttoGuest in December. This new network is now called HomeExchange. Some folks commented on my post about the rough integration. Others have sent me emails privately.

There were many technical difficulties when the new website was launched. But I assume these problems will be solved relatively quickly. Most of the more systemic complaints center around converting to a network that offers points-based exchanges. Here’s a summary of the different points-based home exchange systems. HomeExchange.com launched their version of points-based swapping two years ago with Balloons. Each Balloon was worth one stay, of any length. The currency felt similar to a non-simultaneous home exchange. And there was no points valuation placed on each house. All stays in all houses were worth one Balloon. It seems like this concept really gained favor with members.

Now HomeExchange.com members have a points value assigned to their homes. And their unused Balloons have been converted into points. Many consider this too similar to paid rentals like Airbnb. The house valuation and the encouragement that people “spend” their points for lodging around the world is counter to what some people consider home exchange values.


Members can purchase GuestPoints for cash, which concerns some people who don’t want any money in the home swap equation. I’ll get into the details of this in a separate post because there is a lot to say on this subject.

One reader wrote:

Thanks for your interesting website. I have travelled for years through Homeexchange.com and it was wonderful. But now they have changed. 🙁 They use to have a “Balloon” system that was great, because I can go to very “fancy” homes for just one balloon, and we decided together the quantity of days, depending on each one. But now they changed the whole system, so I need points that are just like money. The houses have a price. I am so disappointed.

This was about making friends, traveling, and doing different exchanges no matter the price of your home. So now to go to a place that I can afford is only for a few days… or I will have to pay. I gave my house to a French family for a Balloon and now I only received 1500 points, which means nothing for 20 days travel.

Do you know if there is any home exchange company that has something like the homeexchange.com before? I am very angry because I have just payed 130 euros for the whole year and they changed the rules just after that. Is a competence, classy, capitalist home exchange that has nothing to do with the one that was before… 🙁 I am so sad…

This woman’s email sums up a lot of the sentiments I’m hearing. And I think some of the problem could have been avoided with better communication and education from GuesttoGuest prior to the integration. The new HomeExchange website could also be improved to place more emphasis on traditional home swaps and less focus on the points system. There could even be an option to opt out of points-swaps, like LoveHomeSwap offers. More thoughtful preparation would have gone a long way to ease the transition. But in the end, some people don’t want to belong to a points-based swap network.

For those folks, I offer a few resources. I have written reviews of a lot of the home exchange networks. And I have compiled a spreadsheet of all home exchange networks. In that spreadsheet, in column M, you can find a points swap indicator that will tell you which networks offer points-based home exchanges. There are a lot of medium-sized home exchange networks (<10,000 members) that don’t have any points-based system. Unfortunately, if you’re not happy with the new HomeExchange network, you’re not going to find another one of comparable size.

No home exchange networks currently offer a system similar to Balloons. However, the new network, People Like Us is working on an option that will value all stays equally at one point per night. This is pretty close to Balloons, as there is no variable value placed on each home. This might be a good fit for people who liked Balloons. It’s a new network so they’re still pretty small, but it’s also free to join.

I personally find points-based exchanges very useful. I’ve done a lot of these swaps through GuesttoGuest and other networks. And my experiences have been very similar to my simultaneous swaps. The people have been equally as kind, caring and friendly with both systems. So I am happy to stick with the new HomeExchange network. But I hope those who want to avoid points will find a new network that suits their needs so that they can continue happily house swapping.

 

4 Comments

  • With 75 one or two week home exchanges under our belts over 21 years with homeexchange.com we loved the idea of a “credit” type system so we could accommodate others requests to stay even when we had already been to their area in the past, or didn’t want to go there, as we could use the credits to go anywhere, anytime. However, we have been disappointed with the “balloon” system, which gave just one balloon regardless of the length of the exchange, the quality or amenities or location of the property. Accordingly, we very soon decided that we would not accept a balloon for more than one week at our places, as we found that others were doing the same, which meant that if we wanted a two or three week exchange somewhere, we could not use a balloon to go there! Accordingly we found that although better than nothing, It was restrictive and in fact patently unfair to people who have upmarket properties in great locations with many amenities. Of course, as your writer says, it was great for people who had a modest house who could get to borrow an upmarket property! In fact, it would probably have led to a lowering of property standards on the site.
    We were about to leave homeexchange.com after 21 years and had signed up with Guest to Guest as it offered both the variable value guest points system, and the per night basis which we thought was fairer, when homeexchange.com went and bought G2G!
    We are delighted with their system. It allows us so much more flexibility eg maybe a a week in a four bedroom house with a couple of bathrooms and a pool because we are travelling with friends, or another time a tiny but very high value flat in say central Paris for perhaps three weeks when it’s just the two of us. How can any other system beat that kind of flexibility? We also felt that their assessment of guest points value for each of our properties was very fair compared with other similar properties, and you can request a different points value if you think it’s justified, but of course if you put too many guest points on your place, other exchanges might ignore you!
    “People like us” have one credit (Moon) per night which is also much better than the Balloons. At the end of the day, we will probably continue to do many simultaneous and non simultaneous exchanges as well- we can all still do that as we used to! Let’s all see how things settle down.

  • Hi Dawn,

    Thanks for the mention. You’re probably aware that we asked our members on our Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1952476815051268) what sort of system they liked and what they’d like to see in People Like Us. All views were represented, even people who didn’t want a points system at all, but the majority liked the system outlined where one point (we call them “moons”) is equal to one night, regardless of the home and location.

    Members expressed strongly that they liked the sharing ethos of home exchange and they felt that had been lost with recent events in the merger you mentioned. I respect that network’s decision to go that way and I recognise that some of our members have very valid reasons for liking it but it makes more sense for us to go with the majority and create something that’s different.

    Readers are welcome to come and try our network for themselves: https://peoplelikeus.world. It’s free and they’ll find a lot of people who love the sharing ethos of home exchange. If they like that (if they’re “people like us”), they’ll probably like our network.

    Drew
    Founder, People Like Us

  • Good information. However, I’m most concerned with the business practice change that makes HE appear commercial rather than based on trust. Points to stay in our homes are given as promotions to join, to refer new members, and even for filling out forms. How can the company give away nights in our homes?
    There are many other irritations, but that practice seems a fatal flaw to me. The rest can likely be fixed. The conversion is a fiasco that should never have happened.

  • Just to add to Dawn’s follow up on the G2G Homeexchange saga.
    I agree that it seems a5 first that the points system is more like money ( and one of my concerns is that one day some wiley tax official might try to make that point. However assuming that will not happen I have to agree wit Dawn that once those coming from Homeexchange get over their initial frustration they may find it not so bad.
    It now probably has the largest number of homes to swap and if looking for a specific location and time is pretty good at coming up with a possible home to go to.
    The idea that the points system is fundamentally different from the balloon is not really valid. In fact it is really fairer as some people were using a ballon for 20 days and others for 4 days. The only negative aspect is G2G’ s alogarithm fixing the points whereas in the other main points site LOVEHOMSWAP you are enabled to fix your own points.
    I at first also thought the exchange with points would be less personal or safe than direct exchange or balloons but finally find that as long as one looks carefully at the home owner’s information and recommendations it works really well.
    My only other concern is their giving free points to join which are not theirs to give. ( they are effectively giving away free nights in our homes) . But we can only assume it balances with those of us who give up on the site with unused points otherwise it would be creating too many people seeking nights with the availability ever more limited.

Leave a Comment