Members survey

MEMBERS SURVEY RESULTS

Conducted online : 15 July – 30 August 2010

SAMPLE : 500 approx.
Completed: 339
Total responses for an item will not equal 339 or 100% because some members chose not to answer it.
Your age group            vs             Canada Statistics
18-24: 1     (0 %)                           10 % approx.
25-34: 2     (1 %)                           13.7 %
35-44: 27   (8 %)                           13.3 %
45-54: 58   (17 %)                         15.1 %
55-64: 121 (36 %)                         13.1 %
65-74: 104 (31 %)                          8.6 %
75+: 22      (6 %)                            6.8 %

Your employment status:
full time: 104 (31%)
part time: 39 (12%)
retired: 183 (54%) [HomeLink.CA registry : 39% retired]
student: 1 (0%)
other: 7 (2%)
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Where do you primarily access our website?
home: 323 (95%)
work: 10 (3%)
friend: 1 (0%)
library: 2 (1%)
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How many years (in total) have you had HomeLink membership?
0: 20 (6%)
1: 53 (16%)
2: 35 (10%)
3: 33 (10%)
4: 33 (10%)
5: 41 (12%)
6: 19 (6%)
7: 16 (5%)
8: 17 (5%)
9: 5 (1%)
10: 23 (7%)
11: 6 (2%)
12: 4 (1%)
13: 2 (1%)
14: 4 (1%)
15: 7 (2%)
17: 4 (1%)
18: 2 (1%)
19: 1 (0%)
20: 6 (2%)
25: 2 (1%)
30: 1 (0%)
34: 1 (0%)
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How many exchanges have you completed through HomeLink?
0: 44 (13%)
1: 44 (13%)
2: 50 (15%)
3: 44 (13%)
4: 32 (9%)
5: 20 (6%)
6: 18 (5%)
7: 13 (4%)
8: 9 (3%)
9: 5 (1%)
10: 13 (4%)
11: 5 (1%)
12: 4 (1%)
13: 1 (0%)
15: 8 (2%)
16: 6 (2%)
17: 2 (1%)
18: 2 (1%)
20: 4 (1%)
21: 1 (0%)
22: 1 (0%)
23: 1 (0%)
25: 2 (1%)
26: 1 (0%)
27: 2 (1%)
30: 2 (1%)
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What prompted you to investigate HomeLink?
word of mouth referral: 182 (54%)
media story: 47 (14%)
search engine: 44 (13%)
advertisment: 4 (1%)
other: 23 (7%)
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How safe did you feel providing your personal information to HomeLink?
1: WORRIED …… 5: COMPLETELY SAFE
Average score : 4.5
1: 1 (0%)
2: 4 (1%)
3: 27 (8%)
4: 102 (30%)
5: 192 (57%)
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How important were the following factors in choosing HomeLink:
1: UNIMPORTANT ……. 5: EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
Number of members
Average score : 3.8
1: 24 (7%)
2: 15 (4%)
3: 65 (19%)
4: 133 (39%)
5: 97 (29%)
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Geographic distribution of members
Average score : 4.1
1: 17 (5%)
2: 10 (3%)
3: 43 (13%)
4: 123 (36%)
5: 142 (42%)
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Longevity of company
Average score : 4.0
1: 16 (5%)
2: 10 (3%)
3: 63 (19%)
4: 116 (34%)
5: 127 (37%)
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Having a local office in Canada
Average score : 4.2
1: 12 (4%)
2: 16 (5%)
3: 37 (11%)
4: 94 (28%)
5: 175 (52%)
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Having local offices in destination countries
Average score : 3.1
1: 54 (16%)
2: 48 (14%)
3: 104 (31%)
4: 80 (24%)
5: 48 (14%)
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Depth of information about home exchange on the website
Average score : 4.1
1: 4 (1%)
2: 10 (3%)
3: 50 (15%)
4: 138 (41%)
5: 132 (39%)
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Information about individual listings on the website
Average score : 4.5
1: 4 (1%)
3: 20 (6%)
4: 119 (35%)
5: 191 (56%)
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Affordability of membership fee
Average score : 4.0
1: 5 (1%)
2: 7 (2%)
3: 76 (22%)
4: 129 (38%)
5: 116 (34%)
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Exchange Cancellation Insurance
Average score : 2.9
1: 74 (22%)
2: 54 (16%)
3: 84 (25%)
4: 66 (19%)
5: 50 (15%)
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How satisfied are you with our current performance on:
1 : UNSATISFIED ……… 5 VERY SATISFIED
Number of members
Average score : 4.3
2: 3 (1%)
3: 47 (14%)
4: 130 (39%)
5: 148 (44%)
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Geographic distribution of members
Average score : 4.1
1: 1 (0%)
2: 11 (3%)
3: 64 (19%)
4: 128 (38%)
5: 127 (37%)
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Customer service
Average score : 4.5
1: 1 (0%)
2: 3 (1%)
3: 35 (10%)
4: 93 (27%)
5: 197 (58%)
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Value for membership fee
Average score : 4.2
2: 14 (4%)
3: 48 (14%)
4: 130 (38%)
5: 140 (41%)
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Reliability of website
Average score : 4.5
1: 2 (1%)
2: 2 (1%)
3: 24 (7%)
4: 115 (34%)
5: 187 (55%)
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Ease of use of website
Average score : 4.1
1: 7 (2%)
2: 15 (4%)
3: 42 (12%)
4: 128 (38%)
5: 138 (41%)
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Information in listings
Average score : 4.3
1: 1 (0%)
2: 2 (1%)
3: 30 (9%)
4: 153 (45%)
5: 146 (43%)
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Response from other members
Average score : 3.9
1: 3 (1%)
2: 20 (6%)
3: 76 (22%)
4: 149 (44%)
5: 82 (24%)
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Please rate the importance to you of the following services:
1: UNIMPORTANT ……. 5: EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
ListingAlerts
Average score : 3.3
1: 26 (8%)
2: 44 (13%)
3: 105 (31%)
4: 107 (32%)
5: 46 (14%)
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Newsletters
Average score : 2.8
1: 45 (13%)
2: 62 (18%)
3: 141 (42%)
4: 67 (20%)
5: 15 (4%)
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Telephone customer service
Average score : 3.2
1: 40 (12%)
2: 46 (14%)
3: 108 (32%)
4: 78 (23%)
5: 58 (17%)
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Email customer service
Average score : 4.1
1: 7 (2%)
2: 12 (4%)
3: 54 (16%)
4: 134 (40%)
5: 124 (37%)
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Response rate to offers shown in listings
Average score : 3.9
1: 4 (1%)
2: 15 (4%)
3: 70 (21%)
4: 146 (43%)
5: 95 (28%)
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Ability to add multiple dates and destination sets
Average score : 4.0
1: 7 (2%)
2: 16 (5%)
3: 67 (20%)
4: 126 (37%)
5: 115 (34%)
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Classified Ads for your business
Average score : 1.4
1: 237 (70%)
2: 49 (14%)
3: 29 (9%)
4: 6 (2%)
5: 3 (1%)
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Exchange Cancellation Insurance
Average score : 2.8
1: 84 (25%)
2: 54 (16%)
3: 85 (25%)
4: 53 (16%)
5: 50 (15%)
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How many times a year would you like to home exchange?
Average score : 2.3
0: 7 (2%)
1: 171 (50%)
2: 132 (39%)
3: 16 (5%)
4: 6 (2%)
5: 2 (1%)
240: 1 (0%)
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How many months in advance do you find that you have to plan your exchanges?
Average score : 6.6
0: 11 (3%)
1: 9 (3%)
2: 15 (4%)
3: 24 (7%)
4: 34 (10%)
5: 13 (4%)
6: 96 (28%)
7: 6 (2%)
8: 37 (11%)
9: 14 (4%)
10: 23 (7%)
12: 42 (12%)
15: 1 (0%)
18: 2 (1%)
33: 1 (0%)
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How many days on average do you like to travel for?
Average score : 27
0: 3 (1%)
1: 1 (0%)
2: 8 (2%)
3: 3 (1%)
4: 1 (0%)
5: 2 (1%)
6: 1 (0%)
7: 7 (2%)
9: 1 (0%)
10: 14 (4%)
14: 55 (16%)
15: 16 (5%)
16: 1 (0%)
17: 2 (1%)
18: 1 (0%)
20: 14 (4%)
21: 64 (19%)
25: 9 (3%)
26: 1 (0%)
27: 1 (0%)
28: 8 (2%)
30: 73 (22%)
31: 1 (0%)
35: 2 (1%)
40: 4 (1%)
42: 2 (1%)
45: 8 (2%)
48: 1 (0%)
50: 1 (0%)
60: 18 (5%)
75: 1 (0%)
80: 1 (0%)
90: 3 (1%)
114: 1 (0%)
120: 1 (0%)
141: 2 (1%)
160: 1 (0%)
180: 1 (0%)
301: 1 (0%)
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Please rate the importance to you of the following potential new services:
1: UNIMPORTANT ……. 5: EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
HomeLink reference checks as a prerequisite for new members
Average score : 3.7
1: 17 (5%)
2: 25 (7%)
3: 84 (25%)
4: 114 (34%)
5: 81 (24%)
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Social networking features (like Facebook)
Average score : 1.8
1: 183 (54%)
2: 58 (17%)
3: 67 (20%)
4: 13 (4%)
5: 4 (1%)
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Online chat with other members
Average score : 2.2
1: 135 (40%)
2: 56 (17%)
3: 85 (25%)
4: 40 (12%)
5: 10 (3%)
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An eBay style “rate your exchange partner” system
Average score : 2.5
1: 95 (28%)
2: 57 (17%)
3: 98 (29%)
4: 55 (16%)
5: 19 (6%)
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Accept positive testimonials from exchange partners in your listing
Average score : 3.4
1: 22 (6%)
2: 28 (8%)
3: 112 (33%)
4: 125 (37%)
5: 34 (10%)
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Option to meet HomeLinkers visiting your area
Average score : 2.6
1: 73 (22%)
2: 73 (22%)
3: 108 (32%)
4: 59 (17%)
5: 11 (3%)
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Option to meet other HomeLinkers while travelling
Average score : 2.5
1: 88 (26%)
2: 68 (20%)
3: 94 (28%)
4: 62 (18%)
5: 9 (3%)
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How many months in advance would you like to be able to plan your exchanges?
Average score : 5.7
0: 7 (2%)
1: 23 (7%)
2: 21 (6%)
3: 59 (17%)
4: 37 (11%)
5: 10 (3%)
6: 88 (26%)
8: 20 (6%)
9: 3 (1%)
10: 19 (6%)
12: 37 (11%)
18: 2 (1%)
24: 1 (0%)
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How important to you are the following aspects of home exchange:
1: UNIMPORTANT ……. 5: EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
Cost savings
Average score : 4.5
1: 1 (0%)
2: 5 (1%)
3: 23 (7%)
4: 95 (28%)
5: 206 (61%)
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Authentic cultural experiences
Average score : 4.4
1: 1 (0%)
2: 6 (2%)
3: 26 (8%)
4: 119 (35%)
5: 178 (53%)
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Seeing more than the usual tourist hotspots
Average score : 4.5
1: 1 (0%)
2: 5 (1%)
3: 17 (5%)
4: 106 (31%)
5: 199 (59%)
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Environmentally friendly
Average score : 3.8
1: 12 (4%)
2: 16 (5%)
3: 89 (26%)
4: 118 (35%)
5: 93 (27%)
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Making new friends
Average score : 3.4
1: 20 (6%)
2: 50 (15%)
3: 91 (27%)
4: 105 (31%)
5: 64 (19%)
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Spirit of adventure
Average score : 4.1
1: 5 (1%)
2: 9 (3%)
3: 62 (18%)
4: 139 (41%)
5: 115 (34%)
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Safety of accommodation away from prime terrorist targets
Average score : 3.4
1: 48 (14%)
2: 42 (12%)
3: 64 (19%)
4: 75 (22%)
5: 101 (30%)
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Completely independent travel
Average score : 4.3
1: 4 (1%)
2: 8 (2%)
3: 34 (10%)
4: 131 (39%)
5: 153 (45%)
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If you have suggestions or criticism, we would appreciate your comment, and if you would like our response or assistance, kindly add your name/s and Member ID number:

[NOTE : Identifying membership numbers and names have been omitted for privacy. We apologize if we have apparently ignored your comment or have not adequately addressed your particular concern. We have posted replies to as many comments as possible. Members with specific concerns, questions and complaints not covered here are invited to contact us directly for personal discussions.]

COMMENT : I think it would be fantastic to meet other Homelinkers living close to a destination I’m going to. If not meet, at least, have them as a resource to chat with. I often offer a dinner invite or resource contact to members who want to exchange with me but I can’t reciprocate and they plan to come to my area. For first timers perhaps you could have a “buddy” system where more experienced exchangers offer advice on how to leave their home. I’ve done a few exchanges where the other party had not exchanged before and did not empty some drawer or closet space and were apologetic when they realized they should have. Not a big deal, but comforting for first timers to know they haven’t missed something.

COMMENT : As a new member, I have found it a little disheartening. I have sent out over 25 invitations, and have not had any positive replies. I wonder how far in advance most people book their holidays. I wonder if most people send out many invitations at one time. I would quite like to talk to someone who has been more succesful!! Thanks.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY :  [We did contact them.] First, have you contacted any of the local members on the EXPERIENCED EXCHANGER list that we sent you originally? You could also look through the Montréal-area listings on our website and contact any of the ‘Experienced exchangers’ you find. Take a look at their listings – see if their text or features or photos give you good ideas. Phone or email them for ideas.
You could add some descriptive text to your listing describing your place, neighbourhood and environment … adding tourism links helps.Also, we have an international DISCUSSION FORUM where you can post your urgent requests.  http://www.en.canada.homelink.org/index.jsp

COMMENT : Website could really be a lot more user friendly, it has improved but could still be better. Overall, we are very happy with homelink.

COMMENT : Have been very satisfied with the service we have received from Homelink-but would suggest an improvement on ease of useage, compared to other exchange companies, of web site.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We too want our own HomeLink.CA website and our central international website to be easy to use – ‘user friendly’. We are actually our own harshest critics and have a forum where we can post our complaints and ‘wishes’ to our webmaster. But we also urge members to provide continual feedback on your experiences, with specific descriptions of problems you encounter.

COMMENT : We are currently in our first home exchange since joining and are completely satisfied with the result – home is as we saw it on homelink and people very accommodating. Plenty of local information provided as well as functioning in the home re recycling, appliance operation, etc. Looking forward to further exchanges.

COMMENT : Love the program!

COMMENT : I have never known about your cancellation insurance!

COMMENT : Since we have just joined it was difficult to answer all questions with complete assurance,but did my best.We e-mailed to say that our referral was Henny **** in Holland.We also would very much like a book catalogue as she had.I forgot to use our user name so perhaps you could not respond to the e-mail.We want to spend about 3 months in Mexico and Arizona because we have a Goldwing motorbike which we would like to ride somewhere during some of our winter months.We are close to very good downhill skiing and beautiful view of the Rockies from our home which is situated on 80 acres.Hiking and cross country skiing also easily available.We definitely will welcome any assistance as we are not very skilled computer people.My husband not at all.Do I just go to Google with our address to view the map? I’m working on the photos.What is the insurance all about? Would it be OK to give you a call sometime? We love to travel in general and might be interested in Europe another time.Thanks for your attention.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY :  [We did contact them.] See our online MEMBERS Help and Advice sections with INSURANCE articles :
English   http://www.homelink.ca/member/Help_eng.html
Français   http://www.homelink.ca/MemberFr/Aide_fr.html

COMMENT : Hi, On ****.com, I have the ability to see who wants to come to my city/province/country. I find this really useful. I don’t have to say where I want to go. Therefore, I can target my exchange letter to those people who really want to come here, so we get better matches.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : This kind of function is very easy to install, but the major weakness is, in fact, the basis of our service and the inclinations of our members over half a century. Broad horizons and flexibility. Apart from a dozen-or-so ‘famous’ cities in the world, very few are mentioned in members’ listings. Countries and regions are predominant, and members tend to approach the offerings as they would at a splendid banquet : an eagerness to taste the unexplored and the unknown. Also, the function would be worthless and frustrating to those living in smaller lesser-known towns which would never be shown as preferred destinations.

COMMENT : I find the various searches inadequate and a pain – hard to return to where I started, hard to narrow down to what I want. Would like much more detail at the city level in searches. Also, wish the Italians could plan ahead a lot more – they just don’t seem to.

COMMENT : We have found flexibility is extremely important—–trust is an important component. Having realistic expectations, as sometimes these exchanges are the best and surpass your expectations totally.

COMMENT : “Rate your exchange” and “Positive testimonials” are only useful if the ratings/testimonials are extremely truthful and accurate. Vague responses and non-truthful testimonials will result if travellers don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t think this will be a helpful feature. One home we stayed in was not up to our standards of cleanliness but it would be difficult to honestly review that aspect of our stay as the hosts were wonderful, carefree and accommodating in every other respect. As home-exchangers we understand that every exchange will have its benefits and challenges and it’s better to research as best we can and live with the minor differences. If, however, a significant problem is evident it should be brought to the attention of the Homelink; for example a serious misrepresenation of the property or its location. We’ve had a good first year with two exchanges and plan to have many more. Thanks!

COMMENT : I do not know about reference checks done by Homelink. Or being able to chat with potential exchangers. Am I missing something. I came over from ***** because Homelink had many more listings. My experience has been almost the same and I am satisfied.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We do not supply reference checks, but many members indicate that they can provide them for potential exchange partners.

COMMENT : I have raised the issues of concern to me directly in the past and continue to have them. These relate primarily to the ability to search on the variables of importance to me. I think it should be as mandatory for registration as number of beds/baths to register the pet status of the home, and one should be able to exclude from a search those listings with pets as one can for smoking. The advanced search is several clicks from the main country page and it should be a one click option. I don’t know how to search a region for the variables of concern to me without entering a country. I never use the date field for trying to arrange shorter local exchanges. Most people use it for their long overseas trip. I also find in the requests that I get, they don’t pay attention to timing or my prefered destinations. People find somewhere they like in a place they want to go and see if they can interest them. I also found this survey boxed in my responses and didn’t let me tell you what was important. E.g., question above: getting a comfortable home with fully equipped kitchen, more space and possibly outdoor space than a hotel room or seld-catering apartment are important to me. Also, homelinking isn’t totally independent travel. One may go to out of the way places but also gets advice on how to get the most out of it. There are usually guide books and homebooks with favourite spots and day trip ideas. The possibility of car exchange is very important yet not asked about. I find sequential exchanges very difficult to arrange although I would like to do it more. You didn’t ask about hospitality vs. straight or non-sequential exchanges. We are starting to prefer the former. The number of exchangers in some European countries wanting to come to W. Coast of Canada is quite small, so we really only use it for N. American exchanges, although we may try UK in future. The exchange insurance is difficult to access. Need to have a signed agreement in place, yet it can be just when dotting the i’s that it falls apart, by which time one has bought airfare, to get a good price. Then, it’s just a pool so you never know if you will get your money back. I like the idea it’s there but am not sure I would ever use it. I will continue to raise issues directly with Homelink as they arise. I find you very accessible.

COMMENT : I would like it if when I read an email and delete it that I not need to click on inbox again to see the remaining messages in my inbox. currently when you delete a message you have no messages left and need to click the inbox to continue reading message, this does not flow well. Though we recently rejoined, unfortunately, despite many emails to eastern U.S. and Canada we were not able to arrange an exchange so have rented a cottage on PEI for a week. This is not a complaint as we did leave it quite late – just a comment.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We investigated this report, but did not have the same experience. Upon deleting any messages, the INbox reappears with all remaining messages listed for reading.

COMMENT : No criticisms. I like to check exact locations, so Google Earth co-ordinates would be useful.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : The Google Maplink in each listing displays a map, with several clickable options/views : Earth, Satellite, Street.

COMMENT : Disappointed that we have had no offers to exchange or responses to our offers that fitted our timeline.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Members meeting disappointing results should contact us for consultation.

COMMENT : This is a fabulous service marked by responsive and personal customer service. There are few exchange possibilities in South America and South Africa – both in the southern hemishpere and prime ‘Canadian winter’ get aways. Other than Australia/New Zealand, there are not many opportunities in the southern hemisphere. Cheers. (No need to respond)

COMMENT : Love the program, however you used to have a way to make the messege shown as unread..that is helpful if you can’t respond immediately it’s a heads up to remind to respond later.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Our webmail Messaging system does display a checkmark to the far right of each message title/subject to indicate that the message has been READ by the recipient.

COMMENT : Keep up the good work!

COMMENT : Thank you for the wonderful opportunities your company provides! I have only one criticism. I feel the website could be modernized. More specifically, I would like to see a better search engine. Instead of searching for an area or a specific city, how about a type of vacation (ie: city, skiing, golf, sun, waterfront, oceanfront etc). Would help find a specific exchange and make the website easier to maneuver. Again, thank you.

COMMENT : We are very satisfied with Homelink and we recommended it to many of our friends. But I think that the search tool could be emproved a lot, as well as the process to sign the contracts. Contracts: We would appreciate that once the contract has been filled, the exchange partner doesn’t have to re-fill it on his side. One filling should be enough, and both should be able to sign the same copy (home as well as car agreememts). There is loss of time there. Search engine: Being able to see who would like to come to our city (text field) without having to select our preferred destination country would be nice. For the moment, it is not possible. Also, being able to see who exchanged with who would be nice. That way, we could write to ask for references. Thanks! 🙂

COMMENT : Hello from Quebec City, QC, thank you for the opportunity to give our opinion. We had a wonderful 6 months exchange in New Zealand in 2008. Our first. Memorable. This year we exchanged non-simultaneously with people from NYC. But we both found that the exchange contracts proposed on the websites (Canada and US) were unfriendly and a bit of a hassle to fill. I suggest that you revise this procedure to simplify it as much as possible. But maybe it is because it was my first time… In NZ our exchangees were experienced and had us fill a paper draft quite easily. So to date we are happy members and do not see why we would have to be on another website since we get way too much offers for what we can do with this one! Thank you for everything and keep the good work running.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Members now have a choice of two optional online Exchange Agreements. The international form allows both parties to complete both home and automobile forms simultaneously. The HomeLink.CA form (first of its kind in the industry) is admittedly quite basic in format/structure and does require the second party to complete the form upon receipt from the initiator. Of course, there is also the old-fashioned paper form posted online for download and printing.

COMMENT : I would like to encourage you to encourage Homelinkers to respond to all enquiries. I find it rude that some people don’t respond. I would also love it if you could ‘update’ the website regularly and ‘flag’ new exchanges that have just come up. Is the ‘short-list’ really a ‘short-list’? Basically we are pleased with the way Homelink works and we have enjoyed some wonderful stays in peoples’ homes and met new friends with whom we stay in contact. No bad experiences!.

COMMENT : Just hate members who don’t respond back, honestly why bother having a listing! Would like to encourage other members to say what/when they are looking for. Since you often have to send out 30 to 50 offers to get an exchange it would really be helpful to know what people are really looking for in an exchange. Sometimes I just give up for a while because it’s sooooo labour intensive to send out the personalized offers. Then I get my mojo back and get at it again.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Yes, as our online Etiquette section and numerous newsletters will attest, we’ve been preaching “RESPOND” for countless years, and ultimately introduced the ‘Response Rate’. You can use our Listing alerts function to be notified about new listings as they are posted. Perhaps you are referring to the ‘Short Notice List’? This is a list of those “Seeking exchanges starting within the next 8 weeks”.

COMMENT : you do a terrific job for us in Canada! thanks Graber Family.

COMMENT : We will be going on our second exchange in a few weeks. We are thrilled at how Homelink has opened independent travel to us. We’ve had excellent service from the Canadian office!

COMMENT : We are also members of ****.com; I don’t think they do as well as homelink in that it seems like so many of their members are actually primarily listed for rentals, not exchanges; however, I find their website easier to navigate, and I like emailing directly with members rather than logging on to homelink’s messaging system. Also, they are more affordable. If you have any comments about this, feel free to contact me. All the best, and thanks for your great site!

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We did contact these members to answer their specific questions.

COMMENT : I find the site is the easiest to navigate my way around and keep track of who I’ve contacted.

COMMENT : I’m a little leery of an “eBay style” rating system. I’d like to hear more — how it’s going to work, how you safeguard from pettiness etc — before I saw it instituted.

COMMENT : Rating your exchange would be a problem if someone were to dislike you. It could be a black mark on your file that may not be easy to erase or fix.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We have no current plan to introduce such a rating system. We merely want to test ideas amongst ourselves and (you) our members.

COMMENT : Still not all members reply to offers. I would like to see that happen. It is strange to see some listed with response rates of less than 70%. Perhaps it could be pointed out to non respnders that some of us (probably quite a number) will just not contact a member with such a low respones rate. It doesn’t seem woth sending an offer.

COMMENT : Being a member of Homelink has had a huge impact on our lives. We never would have had the quantity or quality of travel experiences had it not been for our membership in Homelink.

COMMENT : I feel that the testimonials are an important aspect of “knowing” your exchange partner beforehand although we have used personal emails over the course of getting to know our partners as well as telephone. However, country selection might make that cost prohibitive. I would not like to see negative testimonials allowed, only the positive ones. I feel that there are many factors that make a testimonial negative none of which may be attributed to the exchange partners at all. That would be a consideration for which I may not renew a membership, if that ever became the practice with Homelink. Sincerely, D.

COMMENT : We have been well served by our membership and have recomender membership to friends.

COMMENT : we hope the people we tell about the service are able to access the site somewhat to get a feel for what is involved in the Homelink experience. Many Thanks Jack & Leanne

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Unregistered visitors have nearly complete access and can see nearly everything that (you) members can. They are barred only from : listings/members’ identities and addresses, email contact, and Discussion Forum posting.

COMMENT : I don’t like the setup of the exchange information as much as I did before the change.

COMMENT : I use a scooter to travel so the description of the building and property is extremely important. I need to know if a house is 1 or more floors, for example. Is there a level entrance? I am using paramaters like “vehicle required”(that usually means that I cannot get to public transportation on my own),and “elevator/lift” to glean information from listings. An apartment is not necessarily one level, however, I found out. Nor do all apartment buildings have an elevator. Nor are all elevators accessible (i.e. 3 steps down to the elevator). I would like to see as many descriptive elements about an accommodation as possible and, if members only have to tick boxes to get that info into their listing, so much the better.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We agree wholeheartedly. Our online registration form and members’ edit form attempt to encourage such details.

COMMENT : Would like non-serious members or participants to be identified

COMMENT : Most of our experiences have been excellent but we have had one bad one and felt we would like to have warned others. Would like there to be a way that we could easily find those around the world seeking our location or country.

COMMENT : Our only criticism of the HomeLink experience was one exchange to Ventura California was quite deceptive in it’s add. It was about 15 metres from the right of way of a Californian freeway which was very loud. It was uncomfortable to be outside on the patio.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We urge you to report such incidents to us directly or via our online EXCHANGE EVALUATION FORM. If this is the case that we recall, we notified our HomeLink USA office and had those members barred from future involvement in HomeLink.

COMMENT : I love the service and can’t imagine travel without it. H*** and I peruse your site for hours sometimes simply daydreaming. Love it, but do have one pet peeve. Why are we still publishing a catalogue? I can’t imagine why eliminatiing the catalogue would not lead to a lower fee. Why not offer a separate fee for those who would like a hard copy of the listings. There really is no good reason to have a catalogue and from an environmental footprint aspect it should be eliminated. In fact it could have been a question in this survey, Would you like to keep it? Do you ever use it? Keep up the good work (minus the catalogue).

COMMENT : I absolutely loved the printed brochures. My husband and I would browse through them, and spend several hours making choices, before emailing to prospective exchangees. On line listings just don’t do the same thing for us at all. We find it harder to pick out places and accommodations this way. Jack Graber has been an excellent resource for us and we love the idea of having someone so responsive to our questions and helpful.

COMMENT : I preferred having a booklet to peruse as I am not comfortable on the internet. When I rejoined, I thought I was getting a booklet.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Yes, regrettably, we have heard this from a number of you. Please see our recent ‘NewsBytes’ bulletins (from November 2009 onward) which attempted to pave the way, explaining the termination of the directory.

COMMENT : Not enough pictures on some members websites. Hard to make a decision on a home exchange across the world with few photographs of ALL the rooms and perhaps room dimensions would be an asset. Also, the search engine gives too broad a scope when searching for homes in a particular area. Need to be able to narrow the scope to come closer to the actual location you are searching for.

COMMENT : Our first exchange to Vancouver this past May went very well. However, it would have been nice to have seen some of the inside of the home over the Homelink site beforehand. We were a bit disappointed with the amenities. Therefore, perhaps you could place a minimum requirement for photos on people’s webpage to at least 6 with pics inside and out and not just one pic showing a deck with a view of the mountains as in the outline placed on Homelink for the M***** exchangers. We had a variety of pics on our website that assured potential exchangers just what the house looked like inside and out. Note to self for the next exchange, don’t take on an exchange that has one outside picture on the site nor the word “heritage cottage/home” Thanks for providing this survey.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : All HomeLink associates worldwide try to emphasize the importance of a full album on our websites and in news bulletins. (You) members can promote this with urgent personal appeals in our online Forums.

COMMENT : the technology of site is lousy

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We can best respond with questions and improvements when we are given specific incidents or features.

COMMENT : We have been very happy with Homelink. The answer to the question as to how long do we HAVE to plan in advance for an exchange was not necessarily accurate. We have waited as long as 2 yrs for an exchange and have also gotten one together in 2 weeks. But our feeling is to start as early as possible for the most satisfactory outcome. Also, it would be helpful if, when we receive a request through email, that we could just “reply” as in other emails–just a small thing. Thanks.

COMMENT : The most important result of our home exchange experience has been meeting and in some cases, becoming close friends, with our exchangers. Otherise, I am most impressed by the reliability of the arrangements we have made. Very little seems to go wrong. On another site, we have had horrible experiences: people “shoppoing” our exchange and accepting then quitting if they perhaps find something better. I am also impressed with the improved speed of response. If it were possible, it might be better if we could find others who share similar restrictions i.e. we do not exchange with families who are bringing children, we tend to exchange during times when children are in school so combing through all ther listings and cutting out the unsuitables can be tedious. Could there be a separate listing for “couples only?”

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : You can select ‘ [x] without Teenagers/children ‘ in the Advanced Search facility.

COMMENT : I love doing exchanges. We have been extremely lucky to get most exchanges we have wanted. I am not sure how you could be more helpful. I am not very skilled with the computer so making sending multiple notices at one time to possible exchangers would be helpful. Maybe I can already do this but I do not know how! We have only positive things to say about our experiences and sign the praises of house exchanging often.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Our Email Etiquette policy discourages the sending of bulk ‘multi-copy’ emails because we’ve learned that recipients tend to ignore/delete offers that are not addressed to them personally. Thus the webmail Messaging system provides the Template function instead, to allow you to copy/paste similar messages to successive recipients.

COMMENT : Il manque pas mal de français [It lacks a lot of French]

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Oui. However, members are strongly advised to post messages here and in our Discussion Forum in either language. For unilingual folks it is a very simple matter to use an online translation website when necessary.

COMMENT : We have enjoyed our home exchanges to all places. We took a break for personal reasons but hope to do many more in the future. I have recommended Homelink many times and sincerely appreciate it. We just arrived home two days ago from our non-simultaneous exchange in Athens, Greece. Just amazing!

COMMENT : We have nothing but good things to say about Homelink service, exchanges and the people we have exchanged with. You guys are doing a great job.

COMMENT : We have added Geocaching to our exchanges and this has added a whole new way of experiencing the area we are living in. Geocaching will get you to a site or area you would never go to on your own in the normal course of sightseeing. This has given us some very interesting adventures and experiences while traveling. We have started leaving behind, at our home exchange areas, a Canadian trackable coin. It states that we are house exchanging around the world and the finder takes it to another location that can be tracked by us. If you are interested, look up – Geocaching.com – Trackables- Tracking Number tb39m0e. L. & R presently in France

COMMENT : Our one Homelink exchange was a thoroughly wonderful experience with a lovely couple.

COMMENT : I would like an area for “extreme last minute” travellers. e.g. I find myself in <> right now or tomorrow and would like to know if anyone is open to last-minute homestays.

COMMENT : This year we had hoped to exchange with a family in Italy, Portugal or Spain (we are Canadian). We made contact with a large number of potential exchangers in these countries but did not find anyone interested in swapping with us. We therefore paid the membership fee with no positive results, which was somewhat frustrating. It would be nice if we could get ‘credit’ for this to use toward a future exchange, rather than simply having to pay the fee all over again knowing that we may be unsuccessful for a second time. We have had two good exchanges in the past, with families from Western/Northern Europe. It seems far more difficult to secure exchanges with people outside of these regions (would love to go to southern Europe or Asia, for example). If you wish to respond to our feedback, please feel free to contact us by email.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We did contact them. We have a long-standing policy of granting variable extensions according to members’ needs and circumstances.

COMMENT : You do a terrific job! Thanks Family Graber! H. & R.

COMMENT : It would be nice to be able to have a way of segregating potential swaps by the destination they are looking for rather than having to go thru all. Possibly not in the handbook but on the website.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : The Advanced Search facility provides exactly that.

COMMENT : Homelink is the best search engine for home exchanges. It’s the most user friendly. We are members of 4 sites, but when we talk about home exchange with friends, we only talk about Homelink.

COMMENT : Make last minute exchange easier

COMMENT : We are strong advocates of the home exchange concept, have used it a lot and recommend Homelink when asked about our experiences. Thank you for caring enough to send the survey.

COMMENT : The email system is rather antiquated and clunky. This could be improved. The search engine is also a little tedious. The biggest single gripe in a site that I really enjoy using is the rarely used options for dates, periods and destinations which is incredibly unintuitive and could do with an upgrade. This would make a huge difference as it’s difficult to know whether any changes that you might have made have been recognised.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : The multi-date-destination facility was introduced only last April and it seems that many members are slow to adapt. However, as administrators, we recognize that our members demonstrate a vast range of computer comfort and skills – savvy.

COMMENT : i like homelink… However, i find your website awkward to use at times. It is difficult to move back and forth between selections and sometimes if you go back one level you are right at the start again. I have to input too much repetitive information. However, I have used it successfully for 2 exhanges, so overall, my experience with Homlink has been very positive. E-mailing is also rather awkward…. Cheers.

COMMENT : We were members of HomeLink in 1987 and did 2 exchanges through the catalogue at that time. We have done the balance of our exchanging in the past 15 years, since our children left home. We find that many people at our stage of life enjoy “hospitality exchange” – meaning that they come to stay in our home while we are there at the same time; then we visit their home while they are there. In some cases (including our home), the accommodation is separate to the “main” part of the house, so there is both the opportunity to be “private” and the opportunity to engage with our hosts. We enjoy the interaction with our hosts and guests; and there is less concern about potential “problems”. I would also like to mention that in all our years of involvement with Home Exchange, we have never encountered a problem. Nor have we ever met anyone who has actually, themselves, experienced a problem. So we are inclined to believe that the horror stories one sometimes hears are in fact just urban myths! With respect to HomeLink’s website, there are a couple of small comments I would like to make, but need to go back to the website to make sure I explain myself properly. I will then email directly to HomeLink.

COMMENT : Although I haven’t actually completed a home exchange yet, I have come close. I find it interesting reading the different opportunities available and feel sure that when the time is right for me and having at least one partner, I will make an exchange. Being a single has caused me to think/deliberate a little more than if I was with a partner. Thank you for your excellent responses to emails, questions etc.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We highly recommend ‘Exchange Hospitality’ where you exchange visits non-simultaneously. A fine opportunity for those who have extra rooms/space end even a spare car, so that you can entertain guests. Then enjoy ‘hospitality’ in their homes at some future date. Fun to show the guests around and see your own town as a ‘tourist’.

COMMENT : most of the exchanges are for the summer time. This is of course the most active time for exchangers with families, but all the requests we have had have been for the summer and we do not leave vancouver much in the summer as it is so fabulous. New York City has very limited listings – a location we visit often. We have not yet had a successful exchange opportunity, but will keep trying!

COMMENT : Homelink has been a great opportunity for us to travel more, we are just looking forward to full retirement to take more advantage of the many exchange offers that come our way .

COMMENT : I doubt we will renew our membership or join other home exchange organisations. We wanted to exchange our house with a house in Australia while I was on sabbatical but found that no one in the world is interested in staying in our town in any season. I guess we will have to rent houses in the future.

COMMENT : We had an exchange in Australia and were really impressed with the facility to use the website. We are going to France in a month for our second exchange and it was really interesting to do the research on the homelink website. We are very happy with the service.

COMMENT : I find the search function to be a bit cumbersome, in particular, tracking messages and tracking listings on the personal list – when you save it bumps you back to the top of the list. I’d like to have more than one personal list.

COMMENT : Hi Thank you for the opportunity to participate in a survey. I do not have any criticism, just wonder how HomeLInk advertising in new locations. Reason this comes up is that in the middle of our making plans to exchange this fall, our son has an opportunity to live in Malta, a country near Italy. There are no listings for the country of Malta and it got us thinking – how does your company recruit new members?

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Ah, a bit of a sore point. In our own 25 years experience we’ve learned that conventional advertising/recruiting seems futile. We’ve come to rely upon our members’ word-of-mouth, keen media and journalists, and our website appeal to search engines to attract both members and national repersentatives. You should post your urgent appeal on our international FORUM – perhaps a UK or European member has a ‘holiday home’ or a personal contact there.

COMMENT : One thing I notice with the rate of response issue is that although I respond to every inquiry, I’m never at 100% – and I put this down to the fact that quite often after I respond, the person will write back with a “thank you for responding” which I don’t respond to, so I imagine that’s why I lose a few points. And – sorry – but I still preferred the old way of getting an email directly from the potential exchanger. The new way means that I have to respond via the website links, so I can’t easily see in my Outlook Send box that I have already responded to someone – I have to check into the HomeLink website messaging system to find that information. Otherwise – I like everything !!! Thank you.

COMMENT : We like to see more exchanges during the year and less on the summer holiday focus as often airlines are not too accommodating to do last minute bookings. We realize that Homelink has no control on that, but it results that one has to start planning a summer holiday almost as of October/November for a July/August vacation. We also find that during the rest of the year there are few home exchanges. Is this something you want to look into how this can be addressed?

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Our apologies, but we wonder where such data is evident. With the expansion of broadband internet service, improved computer skills and more leisure time enjoyed by our more independent and ‘retired’ members, we observe a considerable number of ‘Anywhere/Anytime’ preferences in listings.

COMMENT : Hi Jack, all is well as you know from our phonecalls regards.

COMMENT : We have found several sizable Canadian centres without HomeLink members, such as Peterborough, ON. Perhaps some marketing in areas lacking membership would be useful.

COMMENT : IT MAY BE JUST US, BUT WE SEEM TO BE THINKING THAT A LOT OF MEMBERS HAVE NOW VISITED VANCOUVER AND THERE IS FEWER REQUESTS TO DO AN EXCHANGE HERE. WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ARRANGE ONE FOR THIS SUMMER, BUT WE HAVE GONE 2 YEARS WITHOUT AN EXCHANGE, SO IT BECOMES A BIT EXPENSIVE . WE HAVE LISTED SEVERAL ALTERNATIVE LOCATIONS BUT IT JUST DIDN’T COME TOGETHER. CHEERS.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : With their membership term about to expire we contacted these long-time members and offered promotional guidance with perhaps a ‘compassionate extension’.

<< We’ve reviewed this listing and offered the following suggestions:

LISTING DETAILS – ADD MORE DESCRIPTION TEXT: Your descriptive text is very brief in comparison to others. Perhaps you aren’t aware that there is UNLIMITED space online to describe your home, environment, proximity to tourist sites,
etc. You can also add website URL’s of good
tourism sites. You could examine other listings in your vicinity for “promotional” ideas. Emphasize the fantastic skiing in winter, year round golf, proximity to Whistler, US, Okanagan, etc.

PHOTOS – Your album has room for 15 photos. Amongst the Members Survey comments and emails we’ve received are frequent requests to urge all members worldwide to include both interior and exterior photos of their homes, plus personal ‘face’ photos. Remember the old classic tune “Getting to know you”?

Post a Special URGENT Exchange Requests on the Discussion Forums
Canada http://www.homelink.ca/discus/messages/board-topics.html
International http://www.homelink.ca/DiscusUKforum.htm >>

COMMENT : For us, the main value of an exchange is not having to stay in a motel/hotel. It is so nice to come back to a home at the end of a day. Also, you get to explore a smaller area of a country in depth, rather than a larger area superficially. Exchanges also give you a pleasant place to spend a “down” day when touring. And the cost savings on accommodation can’t be beat.

COMMENT : I find the search engine on Homelink extremely limiting. You should look at ****.com for some ideas on how you can improve your search engine. Homelink is more expensive than ****.com. However, I find Homelink members are far more experienced and accommodating. I would like the ability to search on cities (e.g. someone could want my city and I want their city). **** does not have the capacity to search by city. I do like the “response rate” for each listing. This gives you a good idea if the other party is even interested in an exchange. It would be nice if you had a new listing page as well.

COMMENT : I found the forms a bit cumbersome when dealing with different languages. It would be nice to have more listings

COMMENT : Overall we are extremely well satisfied with the services provided by Homelink and all of our exchanges to date have been arranged using Homelink. We have only had 1 negative experience which was reported to our Homelink office and the Homelink office in the country we visited. I feel it is really important to have an avenue through which members can provide information to the “Program Coordinators” so that we can eliminate the Users and Abusers – but I’m really apprehensive about an EBay system of actually “Rating” an exchange, which may be available to other members. This is a “Loaded Cannon” which has as much Negative potential as it does Positive and could seriously jepordize many members who, through no fault of their own, simply don’t “Measure Up” in the eyes of their Exchangees. I can use our own situation as a good example. Sherry and I like to get away during our Kootenay winter and our location is of particular interest and attraction to International skiers. If, however, we have a poor “Snow Year” – like the winter we just experienced in 09/10 – does that mean we deserve a rating of 1 or 2 out of 10 because our Exchangees didn’t experience the Skiing Conditions that they anticipated? We made the same preparations to ensure that our home was properly prepared for our guests but we have no control over what Mother Nature provides. In other words, depending on Snow conditions we could receive either a 1 or a 10 – which reflects “Skiing Conditions” NOT Our credibility as Homelink Members. However, a negative rating will have a HUGE impact on our ability to attract future potential Exchangees, so the only option we would have is to terminate our Homelink Membership and join somewhere else. The vast majority of our Home Exchanges have been Extremely Positive Experiences and I would really like to be able to have some way to post a Positive Response for our Exchangees, which would also increase the likelihood that they will receive future Exchange Requests. Hope this helps, Cheers.

COMMENT : Hi, we love the homelink service, we have two memorable holidays in London and Nova Scotia thanks the Homelink. I do want to ask about a couple of things. I find the website sometimes a bit difficult to navigate. I cannot figure out how to change the number of home exchanges we have done on our page (now it is 2). Nor can I see how to add testimonials or recommendations from those who have exchanged with us. Thank you.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We encourage all members to submit Online Exchange Evaluation Forms, which can be used by the other parties as references. You may wish to request testimonials and references directly from your partners.and enter their quotes or compliments in your online listing text area, but please keep member identity anonymous. You can check the feature REFERENCES available in your online listing. You can also indicate the NUMBER OF EXCHANGES in the Previous Exchanges field in your online lising EDIT screen …. which will trigger the addition of the cherished Experienced Exchanger icon.

COMMENT : To establish an evaluation questionnaire that exchangers would be encouraged to fill after an exchange has been done so that you can keep a record for recommendation to potential exchangers with the involved partners – To offer a rebate on the next yearly subscription to members who have not found a suitable exchange in one year – To lower the subscription fee that is relatively high in comparison to other exchange agencies

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : [See our reply above] We offer free extensions up to a year or more to first-time members who do not succeed in getting an exchange, and we offer variable extensions to assist any member in need. Our subscription fee is required to support the virtual 24/7/365 personal customer care we provide.

COMMENT : we love exchanging. We would like to see more listings in Atlantic Canada. We find the present system of filling out the car exchange agreement, very difficult and needed lots of help. Prefer the old form in the book. It was a huge aggravation! We really appreciate the accessibility and personal help from Jack and Leanne. I think it would be good if there was something formal we could do to get references from prospective exchangers.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : (See those above)

COMMENT : Our answer about the cancellation insurance is that the only time we had a cancellation for a trip to Spain because the members had lied about the car insurance and expected us to pay for it, we were not able to get any help and had to cancel our trip. So we don’t bother any more.

COMMENT : I obviously think Homelink is a great organization and it has provided us with some extremely memorable vacations. Keep up the good work!

COMMENT : We have always felt very secure with the Homelink exchanges. The cost to remain a member is harder to come by as we age but it does tend to separate the wheat from the chaff. Perhaps there could be a discount for longevity…LOL. I wonder how many of the members are retired, it would be interesting to know. I appreciated the feedback from you when we did have a concern, your group is very professional and it increases our confidence in the Homelink organization.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Members are granted an automatic 1-month extension for early/advanced renewal, and another month for each referral of someone who ultimately joins.

COMMENT : I have not had much response when I sent out inquiries. Most exchanges have come from others contacting me. I want to get away for the winter months of Jan.to Apr. and need lots of lead time for that as well as for far destinations but will do close ones on ahort notice.

COMMENT : Regarding the website and ability to communicate with other members, I find that once the communication link has been established we agree to communicate via our personal email addresses because the homelink email system is cumbersome since you have to log-in etc.

COMMENT : lisa …love homelink…

COMMENT : Due to the cost of Homelink and the tendency of other potential home exchangers in some of the poorer countries to utilize less expensive exchange sites as well as the increasing competition from other exchange organizations, I have seriously thought of transferring my membership to give me more options. I have long enjoyed the many benefits of your organization and always recommend it to people but with the the added comment that there are also several good or cheaper alternatives.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We contacted this member and answered their questions.

COMMENT : I’d like to see the Home Page redesigned to make it easier for members to get into the listings. Part of the problem, in my view, is not having the Members Section separated out from other information by using a larger font or separate box. The Canadian Home page is too cluttered and needs a visual update.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We immediately modified the major buttons and headings on our main homepage and those for members and visitors.

COMMENT : With the rising costs of air travel I wish there were more listings in “affordable” destinations from B.C., i.e. Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua.

COMMENT : great organization- thanks. K.

COMMENT : there are some listings with 0% or less than 15% response rate…they should be contacted and removed if out of date or no longer interested in an exchange? the quick reply function is great….it has increased the response rate.

COMMENT : We usually avoid contacting those members who have a low rate of answering enquiries. We feel that if they are so impolite then they probably are not the kind of thoughtful people we would want to use our house. We feel that showing the response rate is an important addition to the information provided.

COMMENT : I would like to see more listings in Canada. The east coast is not well represented at this time. We have just completed two exchanges this year and were very happy with both. We were unable to travel for a few years but kept our membership up and would go in and look at the locations offered from time to time. We are very happy in general with your service. We intend to put more photos of our house in for next year.Have not had more exchanges because of family circumstances, but also concerned that there are so many homelinkers in Vancouver, that other locations have too much choice here. But I guess it’s the paradise we live in. There was one request I received last year from Nice, and I responded positively but never heard any more. I suspect they had their choice of responses from Vancouver, so that was the end of it. Thanks for all though – it’s a great idea!

COMMENT : We love it and would like to do more! Hiopefully we will in the future but having a 94 year old Mother in the UK means we have to go to Europe regularly and have family to stay with. We now have an apt. in Portugal and in the future we hope to swap it with other Europeans. We’ve always enjoyed being members and have fun emailing with folks even if we cannot go! Your service has always been great and we intend to remain members.

COMMENT : I would like you (HomeLink), to make it clear to new members that this is a ‘home from home’ type of experience and not an hotel trip where critisism of the ‘paying guest’ is of great importance. I had one unfortunate experience whereby the guests were on their first ever exchange, and tried to ‘rank’ my home instead of appreciating my friendly welcome, comenting on minor imperfections, and making me feel ‘judged’ ! I would like HomeLink to promote the fact that this is simply an ALTERNATE way of travel while NOT necessarily being “First Class” in all areas, but rather a home from home experience. I have LOVED my HomeLink experiences, as well as the warmth of my HomeLink Hosts. Keep up the GREAT work, and try NOT to get bogged down by those who class themselves above the rest (perfectionists ?) They do NOT belong with HOMELINK 🙂 Submitted with great respect for all that you do. Cheers, and Thank you 🙂

COMMENT : Thank you for developing this service. I hope to use it more in the coming years

COMMENT : I thought people would contact me for exchanges but I’ve only had one contact. Perhaps I need to be more active.

COMMENT : I am an avid searcher of an exchange and have only had one exchange in all those years whereby the other exchanger approached me. It appears that most sit back and wait…………..

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : The success of our members is almost totally dependent upon their pro-active ‘marketing’ of their listings and initiating contact with potential exchange partners.

COMMENT : We have exchanged in New Zealand, Australia, Germany and British Columbia with excellent results and no problems. Homelink is a very professional organization.

COMMENT : My only suggestion would be that members be allowed one free photo when they register. Considering the free photos that are allowed on other sites, I feel that this would be reasonable considering the price of this membership.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : All memberships include a photo album of 15 (Basic) or 20 (Combo) images to be posted.

COMMENT : In terms of ease of use of your website, I would like to see a system where the members I have contacted regarding exchanges are automatically noted on the screen. I am a member of ******.com also, and this feature is what I really like about that site. For example, when I search members to contact regarding an exchange and then send them an email, the system automatically inserts a note onto that listing that I have already contacted them and on what date. I find this extrememly helpful as I often send out a hundred or more emails to potential exchangers. In general, though, I am very happy with the Homelink site and especially with the prompt replies I receive from you via email if I ever have a question. I appreciate the fact that you have added the percentage for responses in an attempt to encourage other members to reply to all offers. I think it is working, as I have noticed an improvement in this area. thank you!

COMMENT : Making the website more user friendly would be great…bigger buttons…maybe notification if you’ve e-mailed someone before by maybe a coloured dot on their site? A list of who you’ve contacted…who has replied and who hasn’t…that’s all I can think of for now…great job!!

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Listings that you have already contacted via webmail are indicated by the envelope icon – but without the actual date. You can also track listings by adding them to your Personal File. Your webmail account will store all your correspondence, file your responses, ensure transmission and you can see when your messages have been read by the other party. And you can create folders to manage your correspondence.

COMMENT : I think the web site could be improved to make searches in the area of interest much easier. I find that I have to do a lot of digging just to determine if the property is in an area we would like. Some of the countries are divided into geographic regions that I am not familiar with. Integrating the web site with Google Maps may be a very effective way to show the location of all properties that meet your search criteria; then a single click takes you to the pictures.

COMMENT : Many solicitations come with too short a fuse – we plan international travel 8-12 months ahead. However, there’s also room for spur of the moment exchanges (which we did recently).

COMMENT : Homelink is a great way for us to travel with all our family and reduce costs by not having to pay for accommodation and car rental. Also the enjoyment from seeing places which are not “touristy”. Our exchanges so far have been to the UK, but next time we will venture further afield – Peru or Australia. Not sure how homelink works when other languages are involved – I’m sure we will find out. Great company, well done.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : There are several online translation websites that provide adequate representation of either your own text or that from a ‘foreign’ member. MSOutlook has an integrated email translator and Google’s translation site accepts copy/paste submissions.

COMMENT : Our last exchange (2009, Paris) was wonderful but the home in Paris was very dirty and one of the two bathrooms was not working. When I phoned him (Name) at my house to ask him how I could get the bathroom working, he said: “Oh that bathroom (the only one upstairs where the bedrooms are) never works.”! No one asked me to comment on the exchange after it was over. Why not? I would like to protect others from having the experience I had with this man. (He) was/is very charming but his house needs repairs and cleaning. B.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We contacted them with assurance that we have always invited feedback (positive and negative) from members about their exchange experiences. We are not made aware of individual exchanges unless the parties have submitted an Agreement form or let us know they have made arrangements. We encourage all members to submit online Exchange Evaluation Forms posted in the Members section. We can forward the details to both the member and HomeLink France for their records, and for any action that is deemed necessary.

COMMENT : We are about to embark on our first exchange. The couple we are exchanging with are seasoned exchangers (12th time) so they have been very helpful. One area of concern is the car exchange. We are concerned about liability issues. We are looking forward to 5 weeks in England.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We located this member and provided extensive information regarding car exchange, insurance and Auto Exchange Agreement forms within our MEMBERS section online, and in Members Discussion Forum

COMMENT : Italy members are the only one that often says that their house is not available for an exchange but would gladly rent it… Thank you for asking our comments.

COMMENT : I would like to have a rating system for potential exchangers. We have not had many difficulty exchanges but I sometimes get worried about an exchange coming up. Your percentange rating for answered requests seems to have helped. We are getting many more replies than before. Some countries seem to have alot of exchangers that wish to rent their places out instead of exchanging them i.e. Italy. We have never been able to plan an exchange in Italy but most of the replies mention that they will rent out their home. How can you prevent this from happening?

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : This kind of report is not uncommon. Our HomeLink Italia director sympathizes, but explains that nearly all of their members own second homes (villas?). Being literally deluged with hundreds of exchange offers every year, they feel obligated to offer rentals as well when they are already committed to an exchange.

COMMENT : It would be nice if people would be open to longer advance exchange arrangements instead of saying they have one for this year. We would honour it, even if we weren’t able to go for some reason. It would be nice to be able to plan ahead -ie. if not this January- perhaps 2012.. Friends have given us the info to ask if members are interested in renting their place, even if they are not going to exchange and are going to be away. We had a lovely , well situated four bedroom home in Florence this July for 500 euros. There were 6 family members attending our daughter’s wedding and it was perfect to spend time with those from far away.

COMMENT : The stated percentage of replies is interesting and worthwhile as it saves a lot of undesired and unnecessary emailing. We keep our responses at 100% and I rarely initiate communication with anyone who has a low percentage. Are these members aware that they are probably missing many opportunities because of their low response rate? Not to mention that to many of us they are viewed as being rude and not someone worthy of exchanging with, since communication is the basis of a successful exchange. On the plus side, since you initiated the response percentage, I rarely send out emails that are not answered!

COMMENT : I joined this year in the hopes of obtaining a housesit position as I live in an apartment and am not able to do a home exchange. However, I find that the opportunity for this type of service is nil. I do think it is a great organization and I had some wonderful exchanges in the past but it just does not work for this type of service. Shirley

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : A cursory search of our current listings yields 139 HOUSE-SITTER REQUIRED offers.

COMMENT : I still find problems with the messaging on the site. EG: can’t send a copy of the email to anyone else.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Our Messaging system provides Templates to be used for repeated messages to various members.

COMMENT : We are very happy HomeLink members and we find most people we have exchanged with are now great email friends. Keep up the good work!!

COMMENT : I would like to see more listings in Canada. The east coast is not well represented at this time. We have just completed two exchanges this year and were very happy with both. We were unable to travel for a few years but kept our membership up and would go in and look at the locations offered from time to time. We are very happy in general with your service. We intend to put more photos of our house in for next year.

COMMENT : I would like to see more listings from our eastern provinces! I would also like to see more Hospitality offered on our Canadian site. When we were in AU and NZ they had received a newsletter with encouragement to offer hospitality on their listing. We used this offer and saw so much more because of it. We love exchanging and tell anyone who will listen how successful we have been doing so. Thank you! Carole.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We, too would dearly love to have more listings in our eastern provinces. It became clear to us long ago that many Europeans preferred to visit the east for its history and its (shorter flights) relative proximity to Europe and th the USA northeast. Also, we westerners want to be able to enjoy our own country and exchange with easterners. Exchange Hospitality happens to be the favourite for Colleen and myself (Jack), and we’ve used it extensively – most recently in Ontario and Quebec. We’ve attempted to promote this attractive option via our Members Discussion Forum.

COMMENT : The messaging system seems cumbersome, mainly because I can’t keep a draft so I can come back to it later. Since the messages are often long (to explain more about the place and answering specific questions), having a way to keep a draft without starting over would be a nice addition. (And apologies if it’s already there, but I haven’t found how to do it.)

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Good idea! We’ve submitted your request to our webmaster’s Wish List.

COMMENT : We did not join HOMELINK for a couple of years because we were travelling with a group of friends. It was not that we were dissatified with HOMELINK. We would like it if exchangers had a photo of themselves in their listing.

COMMENT : We just completed our first exchange and it was a wonderful experience. The information we found on the HomeLink website was very helpful. It really helps to know that your exchange partner has done previous exchanges as this increased our confidence as first time exchangers. The ability to acrue recommendations/references is a very helpful idea. Knowing that the Homelink admin team is standing by in case the exchange falls through is also really helpful.

COMMENT : Our home exchange experiences have all been positive although I still consider us rookies as we have only had the opportunity to do two exchanges. We are working on our third. Once we have retired we expect to enjoy the experience more frequently.

COMMENT : this is the second year in a row that we have not been successful in finding a match for our holiday. it seems to be more difficult to find “like minds” these past couple of years~is it possible that the Lower Mainland has just too many listings??

COMMENT : Two exchanges, both very very successful and positive. Only affordable way to travel with families and to get a local feel for the area/country.

COMMENT : I wouldn’t bother with the hardcopy membership book. Expensive. Hard to read and it I found I wasn’t using it. Internet info is kept more current.

COMMENT : We just finished two home exchanges in France. Both were fantastic. We benefited from being able to meet both families before the exchange so they could show us around their house. This is something I would recommend suggesting to others where possible. Your email assistance getting started was very valuable. We will definately use homelink again.

COMMENT : We started early to try to find an exchange and were not successful. We are very sorry it didn’t work for us this time. We are now trying to arrange an exchange for the autumn of 2011 and aren’t having much success in that either.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We located this member and contacted them. We were able to make several recommendations for their online listing : more extensive descriptive text, flexibility in destination preferences, more photos in the album, more pro-active email offers using names in personalized greetings.

COMMENT : I like being able to negotiate different sorts of exchanges, from simultaneous to future

COMMENT : The only thing I think you can improve on is the navigation of the website for example if you are checking your inbox there is not way to go back to the search area. I think there should be an additional fee for people to find you a homelink that you want I would pay for that.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : While you are logged into your Messaging account and INbox, the main menu with the search functions remains visible on the left side. By coincidence, when we introduced this service in Vancouver back in 1986, we did just that – tried to locate exchange partners for members – but this proved to be a very costly and futile pursuit. We eventually discovered HomeLink and became their/our Canada representatives.

COMMENT : So many people I talk to about our home exchanges want to know the name of your agency. It would be great if you had a referral system available to active members via your website, perhaps with incentives (one year free membership for every 3 referred families that sign up).

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Our registration forms request the source of the registrant’s information about HomeLink and – if by word-of-mouth – the name of their contact. If the contact is a HomeLink member, we promptly add a free month to the member’s term.

COMMENT : I find that some of the search features are unreliable and not intuitive, at least to me. I am unable to construct the type of search I want. For example when I search a country, looking for partners who are “open” or express an interest in coming to Canada, it does not seem to function well. I get all kinds of members who are neither open nor have they listed Canada as a possible destination. Does any of this problem have to do with the fact that I use an iMac instead of my older PC? Perhaps you could let me know if you feel that the website is fully Mac compatible. Other than that, we love Homelink and the whole exchange experience. While we have only done 3 exchanges they have all been an unqualified success for us ( and we hope for our past exchange partners) and look forward to successfully arranging a longer exchange or possibly 2 consecutive exchanges to celebrate our 50th anniversary in the spring to fall period of 2011.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Regarding your search concerns, it is most unlikely that your iMAC is unable to process our database searches. Many of our veteran members use MACs, including one of our ‘test pilots’, as well as our HL USA director. Can you please give us an example or two and we’ll try to replicate your experience here.

COMMENT : We don’t think that a rating similar to the one on E-Bay is advisable. Although we always do our best to suit our partners’ needs, people sometimes have unrealistic expectations (e.g. we sometimes agree to provide two homes in exchange for one and the living arrangement in the country are necessarily more rustic than in the city). Ratings may be quickly done and give a distorted view of what was being offered. In that sense, we always prefer to discuss with prospective partners and, in case of doubt, we may ask for the contact information of previous exchange partners. We also take for granted that members with a terribly bad record (extensive damage to property, cancellation without valid reason, etc.) would not be allowed to remain members. We have never had a bad experience in now 14 years and have learned how to prevent the minor inconveniences that we have encountered over the years (e.g. we now limit the mileage allowed with our vehicle after exchangers recently put on excessive mileage during their stay).

COMMENT : Re message system: Your website is first rate, but on a few occasions, messages have mysteriously & inexplicably disappeared from the message system. L.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : We contacted L. to investigate her report, and will forward all future incidents to our webmaster if we cannot solve the problem here.

COMMENT : In my 20 exchanges with Homelink, I have not had one bad experience. I love home exchanging! Wally & I are taking a year off in 2013 and plan to arrange many home exchanges.

COMMENT : In many encounters with non-exchangers, their repeating objections are in the area of what is seen as the uncertainty and insecurity of the exchange process. My wife and I simply counter that with our experience: No Problem ! Maybe some sort of ‘average member experience’ could help to counter the feeling of prospective members and change that into the positive side.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Fortunately, over these many years hundreds of our members have volunteered for our Experienced Exchangers Reference List, which we mail to every new enquirer. Enquirers are cordially invited to contact any of the members and ask candid questions about their home-exchange experiences.

COMMENT : Would love a way through searching on the website to filter the number of people in exchanger’s family. IE – we are a family of three, and only have space in our home for three. I would love a way to filter out the larger families/groups. It’s not a big deal, but would be a useful tool. M.

COMMENT : It would be helpful to have a list of the number in the exchange party on the initial search list. For example, instead of the graphics of people, you could include 4 adults 2 children. This way I wouldn’t have to open the listing if there were too many people wanting to exchange. Thanks.

HOMELINK.CA REPLY : Sorry, currently our search criteria includes only a MINIMUM number of people. You can enter 2 or 3 and then you will need to scroll through the listings individually. We can’t locate any other possibilities to filter out large groups.
We have reported your suggested feature to our webmaster and added it to our Wish List.

COMMENT : This survey seemed to be asking questions based on internet access. When we joined in 1988, everything was arranged by snail mail with maybe one expensive long distance phone call just to hear their voices! Some of the questions didn’t allow for these conditions. We have found Homelink.ca to be very responsive to our needs.While the membership fees seem high for a completely web-based organization, securing a three night exchange in a midtown New York apt. results in a saving of at least 3 years membership fees. We are sometimes leery of recommending Homelink to acquaintances because they will become our competitors in Victoria! But we usually do anyway. Glad you have such an easy name for them to remember. Cheers, Kathleen

COMMENT : I think it would be good to have police checks as part of the program and also to be able to contact others who have swapped with the homelinkers. Also I think there should be a check list of what each swapper should provide as a courtesy to the exchange family/person ie enough toilet paper? dish soap etc.Maybe you could do a survey of what people liked in their exchanges and what they did not like and provide this information to homelinkers. Also each family should be CLEAR about the responsibilities and expectations in each home and make certain both families have checked and understand the liability assoacited with damages etc to car/home etc. I would say make sure they knwo the other family’s house insurance coverage and that they ARE covered!!

HOMELINK.CA REPLY :
* Sorry, but we can never include police checks as our members reside or list homes in over a hundred worldwide jurisdictions with varying privacy laws.
* Have you had an opportunity to examine our Exchange Agreement Forms? They allow members on both sides to specify conditions and expectations, and supply insurance details for home and automobile. In order to avoid a misunderstanding we encourage all members to complete the form.
* Exchange Evaluation Forms allow HomeLink’s National Organizers to keep a watchful eye on the quality of HomeLink exchanges in keeping with the criteria put forward internationally in our 10 Principles. These are shared between the partners and the HomeLink office. We encourage all members to submit Exchange Evaluation Forms
* We are also recommending that members collect references and display testimonials in their online listings.
* New members are provided with a list of Experienced Exchangers in their area, who are available to provide candid experiences, references and strategies. Experienced Exchangers are also identified in their online listings.

COMMENT : I am completing this survey from the deck of our second exchange home. We have generally had a positive experience with homelink so far, but we see the importance of having a rating system, or hopefully even a review system where exchange partners would be encouraged to write about their experiences with and exchange partner. I think that would be an incredible value added, and I expect many other members would appreciate that. That is the single most important thing that we would really like to see in terms of a new service. Thank yoo.

COMMENT : Your websites have been very easy to use (only one exception) and the reply emails to responses are well written and very usefull. We only had problems with completing and sending the exchange contract to/from the Netherlands. It was confusing for each side with many copies being generated. We have been very happy with your service and have recommended your business to many friends who have looked into joining.

Jack, Colleen and Leanne Graber
‘Team Canada’ at HomeLink.CA™
1707 Platt Crescent, North Vancouver BC V7J 1X9
Tel 604-987-3262, Fax 604-987-3209
Email members@homelink.ca
Website www.homelink.ca
Canada’s most experienced home exchange service since 1953
TRADITIONAL ~ PERSONAL ~ SERVICE