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.