I just got an announcement from HomeExchange.com about a new service they call Home Exchange Gold. This service existed a few years ago so technically it’s not new. But I believe the old service was for luxury homes and now this service is being marketed as more of a high touch experience. This got me thinking about premium home exchange services and whether there is really a market for this.
I know LoveHomeSwap has a Platinum level of membership that costs quite a bit more than standard membership (regular price is $816/year, current “sale” price is $404/year, but I’m not paying enough attention to their pricing to know if the sale is constant or not). With that elite membership you get an extra 1500 swap points, prominent featured listings, and a “dedicated swap team” who I believe will do some of the work to help you set up your profile and find swaps. I met one person who joined at this level when he stayed at my place for a few nights. He’s the founder of a startup and seems incredibly busy with his work so he calculated that the cost of this membership vs. the amount of money it would save him on lodging was well worth the investment, and he was very enthusiastic about the service.
The Gold HomeExchange.com service costs $500 (compared to the $150 regular HomeExchange.com annual membership fee). From their press release: “HomeExchange Gold membership is ideal for home exchangers who have multiple homes or are looking for more personalized service through a dedicated Gold Exchange Specialist, reachable by phone, email or chat at anytime, from anywhere.” Home Exchange Gold members can make their homes viewable only to other gold members, or to the entire HE.com community. I think the main distinction here (besides the option to only exchange with other Gold members) is the personalized high touch experience. Members who want someone else to do the work finding them swaps and optimizing their profile and listings might want to pay this higher price.
This is clearly a move to better monetize high income house swap clients, and I think it’s an interesting idea. Finding a home exchange can be quite time consuming if you are determined to pick your travel destination. Obviously these companies are betting that some folks will pay more to have someone else do the work for them. Not a bad guess if they can successfully find exchanges for their higher paying clients. I don’t see a down side to this tiered membership for regular members like me. In fact it probably means more people will be more actively searching for exchanges, which is a good thing for everyone.
I can’t think of any other home exchange networks who are offering this high touch experience off the top of my head, but I do recall seeing a few that had tiered pricing. I’ll pay more attention to this in my next round of updates to the home exchange network reviews. Let me know in the comments if you are aware of other networks with this service.