Hello, my name is Christopher Erkelens and I’m thrilled to be the USA Country Manager for HomeExchange.

A bit about me: I am first and foremost a HomeExchanger. I fell in love with the concept, the lifestyle, and, of course, the Members. Having been with HomeExchange for a year and a half as Marketing Manager, I am looking forward to jumping into the role of Country Manager. With the position, I have the opportunity to oversee the various aspects of the HomeExchange business within the United States while also being fortunate enough to interact with our enthusiastic community. Recently, I have had the chance to connect one-on-one with many of our state-side Ambassadors. The conversations and connections have only gotten me more excited for the direction HomeExchange is heading. Read More

The HomeExchange experience has gotten even better! You may have seen it already. You might have already been using it to help you search. We are proud to have a feature designed to reward your efforts in responding to exchange inquiries.

As an experienced HomeExchanger, you know how exciting it is when you get a response to your exchange inquiry. Even if that response is a simple “sorry, not at this time,” it is nice to know that someone has given your request serious consideration.

Adding Response Rate to Member Profiles builds upon the many benefits you already have at your fingertips.

When searching for your next dream exchange, you will be able to easily Search [screenshot] using Response Rate.

Member Listings with high Response Rate can appear first in the results.

If your Response Rate is not perfect, don’t worry, we’re thinking of you too. We know that it can be a challenge to stay on top of all the inquiries you get. To make it easier, we’ve included notifications to let you know when your rate is slipping. When you log-in, you’ll see a notice letting you know your Rate has dropped. Simply click through your Inbox and let the potential Exchanges know if you are or are not able to meet their request. As you do, your rate will rise. Easy!

We look forward to your feedback and suggestions as we continue to make your HomeExchange experience even better. Have ideas? Feedback? Please let us know!


When you are visiting a new place, what is it that makes you feel most at home? Is it a specific item or is it more a general feeling? With HomeExchange, there is no “perfect” way to welcome an Exchange Partner into your house, but there are a few things that are sure to show you took your hosting responsibility seriously. Here are just couple tips.


Freshen Up

It is such a simple thing, but making sure that you have clean sheets on the beds and fresh towels in the bathroom go a long way to making any guest feel at home. It shows you care about their comfort and that you were thinking about them. After all, it’s never fun to reach for a towel and discover it is still damp from someone else. You might also run a vacuum around the floors or make a point to sweep. Those little things can do wonders.

“A welcome letter, good wine and chocolates for the children. In the last exchange I left the towels in the rooms wrapped with a big bow with chocolates inside.” Merche, Spain

Give them a little space

It doesn’t have to be much, but clearing out a corner of your closet or a drawer in the bathroom is a great way to ease the transition from guest to Exchange Partner. Allowing them room on a bar to hang shirts or dresses, having a place to put their toothbrush or even making a spot for them to store their luggage is a way to show you want them to be comfortable.


“Make yourself at home”

Another easy way to have someone start to feel at home is by giving a little overview of your place. Explain how to use the WiFi and detail out the unique quirks with the dishwasher or shower faucet. Even a little guidance helps your Exchange Partner feel like they are not only welcome in your home but that they can easily find their way around without feeling out of place.

“I like to leave some activities that will keep the kids busy while their parents enjoy their holiday.” Daphné, France

Think Local

Many of our members choose to leave little gifts to welcome their Exchange Partners. No need to go crazy, but some of the best options are those that are from your area. Is your city known for its pottery? Perhaps wine is one of the premiere exports? Maybe certain fruits or vegetables are not available in the location your guests are from? Make it about giving your Exchange Partner a little taste of what they are to expect from their time in your home.


Good enough to eat

After a long time traveling, one of the last things you want to do is to think about what to eat. One of the perks of HomeExchange is that you have access to a kitchen. But you might still need to shop. Some members choose to leave a meal for their Exchange Partners to welcome them for their stay. They make their family’s favorite dishes or prepare a local delicacy and even leave written recipes for their guests to take home with them. It is also thoughtful to leave fresh milk, eggs and a few other items in the fridge. So… who’s making breakfast?

“We often prepare for a whole traditional three-course dinner for our partners. And we give them the recipes, of course!” Karin, Sweden

In the end, whatever you do, making a little extra effort is a great way to make your Exchange Partner feel more at home. Now back to you, what are some of the things you do to welcome your exchange partners? Have they done anything special for you that stands out? Leave your comments below.

 


One Bed, One Bath, but so Much More

They are small; they are well appointed; and they are very well located. These listings are much more than a hotel room and free for members of HomeExchange. Read More

The McCaleb family live in Tucson AZ, have been exchanging for 10 years and are proud members at HomeExchange.com. When people ask them why they travel so much, they simply tell them they “Home Exchange ”.

 

Here is a typical conversation I would have with someone after telling them we “Home Exchange”…

Really?! You let strangers stay in your home?!
Well, yes, we do. But by the time of the home exchange, we hardly feel like strangers anymore. We’ve been exchanging information via email and phone, finding out from one another what would enhance their visit, and letting them know what we hope to see and do in their area. For the most part a HomeExchanger is vested in their guests having a great experience. Some of our HE’ers have gone to great lengths to show us a good time. Some examples are, making reservations, leaving passes or admission tickets for us and arranging private tours at places we’d never be able to have seen or experienced otherwise:  an exclusive restaurant reservations with personal attention from the chef; Personal driver and live-in housekeeper & chef; A private tour of the Lamborghini factory in Italy; And a personal hands-on visit in Lexington KY with American Pharaoh, the world’s most winningest race horse. I tell naysayers that the concept is based on a mutual trust and respect. You are staying in their home, and they are in your home. That reciprocity results in a desire to both please our guests, as well as to BE a good guest. Read More

Looking for an Exchange location that has room for the whole family? (And we do mean the whole family.) This collection of homes is made for you.

Few things form memories like having the whole family together in a new location. Everyone catching up around the table, going on adventures or, simply, getting away from the usual day-to-day stresses. We know how special it can be to reunite and that’s why we dove deep into our community and discovered some wonderful homes that are ideal for your next family gathering. Read More

Whether traveling with a large collection of family members or group made up of your family-of-choice, there are some things to consider when planning an Exchange.

Going on an Exchange with a big group is a great way to keep costs down and to take that trip you have been dreaming about. Before you go, here are a few things you should think about: Read More

Taking a trip with your extended family can be great… and it can also be, well, less than great.

While you are guaranteed to walk away from time together with many memories, there also could be a few bumps along the road. Read on to take a look at some of the best and less “fun” aspects of planning a Home Exchange with your extended family.

 

Perk #1
Your whole family is with you

Pitfall #1
Your WHOLE family is with you…and there could be days you wish they weren’t

 

Perk #2
Built in childcare!

Pitfall #2
If you don’t happen to have children, you can quickly become the built in childcare.

 

Perk #3
There is always someone there to lend a hand with whatever you might need.

Pitfall #3
There is ALWAYS someone there, even in the moments you wish you could be alone.

 

Perk #4
You will have plenty of people to help spread around the culinary responsibilities.

Pitfall #4
Too many cooks can make a good meal much more complicated. Beware those moments when knives are involved.

 

Perk #5
Costs can be spread around to make a trip much more affordable…

Pitfall #5
Unless there is that family member who always wants more than their share.

 

Perk #6
More heads equals more ideas for what to do!

Pitfall #6
More heads also equals many opinions to juggle and many more opportunities for uncomfortable “conversations”.

 

Perk #7
Through all the quality time, you are sure to get to know your family better.

Pitfall #7
With all that quality time, your family is going to get to know YOU better! (Alright, not totally a pitfall, unless they turn around and tell THAT story around strangers.)

 

Perk #8
Memories, memories and more memories

Sure, traveling with a family can be stressful, but in the end it creates so many wonderful moments that you may be willing to overlook the things that trip you up. You might enjoy it so much that you start planning another trip as soon as you return!

Have any fun moments of traveling with your extended family you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments!