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Welcome to our Spring 2012 edition of HomeLink Connection!
We hope you enjoyed the mild winter as much as Karl & I have and are taking time to smell the spring flowers in bloom everywhere!
Now that Spring has sprung, our busy travel season is right around the corner and many of us are arranging and/or preparing for our exchanges. Therefore, be sure to check out the link we have included in our “Helpful Hints” section that leads you to our “Ten International Principles for a Successful HomeLink Home Exchange”.
This Spring edition brings with it a new addition called, HomeLink Connection Feedback. We had received immediate, specific feedback after our last newsletter and decided it best to share this with all of you. As always, any and all comments from our members are welcome and we look forward to expanding this section with subsequent newsletters.
Our Media Focus includes two recent articles. The first features longtime HomeLink Ireland members and the second is authored by our very own HomeLink USA member, Julie Kemeklis. Julie’s combined storytelling and helpful advice make her article well worth the read.
The second of three home exchange stories sent to us from our members, Bill & Patty Smallwood, is included in our Member Stories section. You will also be sure to get a chuckle out of a brief anecdote sent in from another HomeLink USA member.
We hope you enjoy our newsletter and, as always, welcome any feedback you may have: email@example.com.
Karl & Katie Costabel
HomeLink Connection Feedback
[Bill & Patty’s] "Story One" in the newsletter you just sent out hit home for us on two counts:
1) The first thing we -- and probably most home exchangers -- hear when we start to talk about our exchange experiences is "aren't you concerned that they might take something?" Our answer: "No; we know where they live."
2) The theme of broken wine glasses, including one broken by us, became so pervasive that we have added "please don't wash wine glasses in the dishwasher" to our "homeowner's manual." No broken glasses since."
Bob & Leslie
Homelink members since 2000
Below is a differing perspective sent to us by one of our members regarding the issue on sending multiple exchange requests in a narrow amount of time…
“I have never encountered the problem reported in your newsletter. I always send out several requests. Rather than getting more than one response to a request for an exchange, I find that when I send out several many people don't respond at all, some respond only after a long delay, others decline...if you send out only 2 at a time and wait for responses. your vacation time may have passed.
Karl, you certainly have been our HomeLink contact for a long time, appreciate your concern and efforts.”
Thank you for your feedback on this topic and you certainly bring up valid points. In the end, we hope everyone appreciates the fine line between sending too many requests and not sending enough at any given time and maintains proper etiquette during the process of sending out requests
HomeLink USA News
Just a Reminder…
Email Address Updates:
As always, please continue to notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your email address updates so we can properly update our local database. Our occasional messages to you, including this newsletter, are sent from our local database.
Please Update Your Listings…
Please make a point of updating your listing (at least) annually as we frequently receive comments about member’s listings that still contain dates from previous years. Visitors viewing our listings through the free database search falsely assume these outdated listings are not current members of HomeLink.
You can find detailed instructions for updating your listing as well as uploading new photos at our “Member Help” link. This link is found under “US Functions” at the left side of the Database Main Page after logging in.
Complete our Exchange Evaluation Forms…
These forms serve as a useful reference for your future exchanges. Be sure to request your exchange partner complete the form, as well.
HomeLink Internet Technology…
New HomeLink Discussion Forum:
You may be aware that HomeLink has had a members’ discussion forum for over 10 years. This forum was getting difficult to use and maintain. So, we have developed a far simpler forum that runs within the HomeLink website. This fresh start with a better directory structure will make it far easier to create and find discussions. It also shows the member’s name and includes a link to their listing.
Accessing the Discussion Forum is simpler than ever before! Just login and click the “Discussion Forum” link found under “Member Options” at the far left side of the Database Main Page.
Please note that this Forum is in its infancy stage and, therefore is not completely bug-free. One known bug that is being worked on is that our members receive an Error message when they click to post their comment to the forum. Please know that the comment is being posted despite the Error message received, so there is no need to re-post your comment.
Despite the few minor bugs we are dealing with, we felt it imperative to get this out to our members now as there was quite an outcry when we were forced to abandon our old forum.
We appreciate your patience as we work through these few kinks and encourage you to report any bugs you experience to email@example.com.
We continue improving the efficiency of our website and database online. Most of what we have improved upon recently is the speed of our site.
We have been able to eliminate the weekly Sunday slow downs we were experiencing late last year and earlier this year. We will keep you posted with all further upgrades that may affect your online experience during their implementation.
Again, we encourage you to report any glitches/bugs you might come across while at our website. Please notify us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our first article is brought to us once again from HomeLink Ireland. The members featured in the article have been with HomeLink since 1997! They comment on the days before they communicated online when all communication was through extensive letter writing…ahh, the good ‘ol days…
The Only Expenses are Travel Costs, by Irish Independant, Independant.ie, January 26, 2012
The following article was written by our HomeLink USA member, Julie Kemeklis. She writes about her family’s wonderful exchange experience in Wales and not only entertains us with her stories and photos of their adventure, but also offers invaluable advice along the way. Well done, Julie and thank you very much for sharing this with us!
Trading Places How one Saratoga family swapped houses for a vacation in Wales, by HomeLinker, Julie Kemeklis, Capital Central Spirit of Saratoga, January 2012
We would very much like to hear about your home swapping stories and include them in an upcoming HomeLink Connection newsletter. Please send your stories to email@example.com and let us know if it would be okay to include your name.
We have actually received so many stories over the past few months, that we were unable to include them all in this newsletter, but promise they will be included eventually. Thanks, again, to all of you for such a wonderful response to this section!
The first story is the second of three that were sent to us from Bill & Patty of Arizona.
And to Patty & Bill…what a great time you must have had meeting all these amazing people! Meeting new people and making new friends is such an enjoyable part of house swapping and we are so pleased to learn you have experienced this!
Thank you for sharing your adventures with all of us!
STORIES I TELL MY FRIENDS ABOUT HOME EXCHANGES
I often try to sell the home exchange idea to our friends, and in the process, I cite some of our best experiences. Number one in this category is the wonderful people we have met as a result of these exchanges.
Our procedure when we initiate an exchange is to let our hosts know that we will meet them at the airport—usually Phoenix, but sometimes Boise—bring them to our home which will have the master bedroom ready for them (we sleep in the guest room that night and leave for the airport the next morning); then host a cocktail party with friends and neighbors to meet them. At this party, when the couple is introduced, we say something to the effect that we are leaving to stay in these folks’ home and we’re hoping, while they are here, you will look after them. We don’t go into specifics like we hope you can invite them for dinner, cocktails etc. Our friends and neighbors get the idea and all of the couples we have hosted have bragged on how well treated they were during their stay in our home.
Since this was arranged ahead of time and our host couple knew what was going to happen here, they, in turn, contacted their friends and asked them to do the same for us.
Now, the best part. Let me tell you about some experiences.
When we got to our hosts’ home in Hamilton, New Zealand—a beautiful home overlooking the Waikato River—we heard the doorbell ring and when I answered, there was this beautiful lady there and she said, “Hi, I’m Lynnie, a friend of the hosts, and if you will invite me in and pour me a glass of wine, I’ll tell you how you can come to our house for dinner.”
This incident led to numerous dinners both at their place and ours, and, most important for me, her husband, Graham (they spell it differently but I cannot remember how), had a book-lined study that was marvelous to explore. And, every time we were there, Lynnie had difficulty dragging us out of the study for dinner because of the interesting conversations that were ongoing. (He had worked as head of maintenance for the UN operation when US troops were in Mogadishu—and almost died of malaria.) Then, at the table, we were further chastised for monopolizing the conversation with “war stuff.”
Now, fast forward. We have stayed in steady contact with this couple and they have visited us in Sun Valley where we gave them a car and outlined places to see like Yellowstone Park and the great museums in Cody, Wyoming.
But this is not all. The second or third night we were in our New Zealand home, the doorbell rang again, only it was a couple, Gerald and Clodagh. They came in for a glass of wine (or two glasses), we were invited to dinner, and it went on from there. At these and other dinners we met a whole bunch of people, including a real estate couple who, when they told us they were going to Las Vegas for a convention but, in previous visits to the States they had never seen the inside of an American home, we said, “We’ll take care of that problem.” We then arranged for our good friends in Las Vegas to host them—which they graciously did by taking them around to other homes in their neighborhood.
And the experiences in New Zealand went on and on; we met a bunch of wonderful people, were taken on trips to see things that we would never have seen; and I now have a good friend, a fellow writer, with whom I am in steady contact.
Oh, and the final pieces of the story. After browsing a used book shop and getting acquainted with the owner, who, when a young man, herded sheep in Idaho, he generously loaned us some of his rare books on local history and, eventually, we had a dinner for him.
When we were about to leave, I went to the store to return one of his books and he had wrapped a package for us to take home—four hardback books on New Zealand. He called it his goodwill gesture. Then next day, when Graham took us to the train station for the trip to Auckland and our airplane home, there was Lynnie in the station with a basket containing a beautiful lunch—including a bottle of great New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Thinking about that might not bring tears to your eyes but, at the time, it did to mine.
Below is a short anecdote from longtime members who wish to remain anonymous. Thanks for the chuckle!
"...A year and a half ago, we were on vacation in Buenos Aires. During breakfast, I had a conversation with a woman in which I was telling her how much I enjoyed the home exchange program. Her eyes were wide open and she dropped her jaw. I told her that we had exchanged 32 times. She asked if we had met the people before and I said no but you could tell a lot about the people from from emails as well as the photos they sent. My husband saw her surprised look and realized she didn't understand me. She said "You mean you've exchanged partners 32 times?" I got hysterical and said NO! Not partners, apartments and we all had a good laugh!
Thought you might enjoy that…"
Please click on the following link for some valuable guidance on planning and preparing your home for an exchange.
Ten International Principles for a Successful HomeLink Exchange
“Members Since YYYY” Annotation UPDATE:
I have been taking the liberty of adding a variation to my previously suggested annotation to most of our renewals in the past few months. I don’t always remember, but try my best. So, when I process a membership renewal, I am now entering, “HomeLinkers Since YYYY” to the beginning of the descriptive text area of the member’s listing.
Of course, you are free to remove this is you prefer, we just think it is a nice addition to our listings.
Please consider adding this to your listing and if you are unsure about the year you joined HomeLink, simply send me an email from this link, firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to add this bit of information for you.
Send Informed Exchange Requests:
Please read a member’s listing in its entirety before sending an exchange request to be sure your plans suit theirs. Of course, many of our members are open to all offers. However, many members have very specific dates & destinations and/or requirements posted to their listing.
Sending requests based solely on a home’s “Location” is not acceptable. Please show consideration for your fellow HomeLinkers and read beyond the “Location” field of a potential exchange partner’s listing to make sure it is a good fit for both of you.
Viewing HomeLink Photo Albums:
We have been receiving many inquiries lately about the inability to view a member’s photo album after clicking on the photo section of their listing.
Depending on the number of windows you have opened at your computer, sometimes when you click on a thumbnail photo to view a member's photo album, the photo album window opens up behind the main window you are viewing.
We recommend clearing your computer's browsing history/cookies/cache. This function is usually found under the "Tools" or "History" or “File” > “Preferences" menu of your web browser (Firefox, MSIE, etc).
Next, either restart your computer or close your browser and restart it. Then go to a listing to view their photos. If their photo album doesn't appear, reduce the HomeLink window and see if the photo album window moves to the front for viewing.
HomeLink International News
The members included in the link to this section (below) have contacted their respective HomeLink Organizer, asking for their help in finding an exchange or were chosen by us from our Short Notice List.
This feature is still in its infancy and we will certainly include any of our USA members who have been unable to find a US exchange after an exhaustive search.
Further, if any of you have been unsuccessful in finding an exchange abroad, we would be happy to forward your situation and preferences to our corresponding HomeLink Organizer. After all, we are here to help all of our members in anyway we can.
Of course, we are pleased to bring this section to you, but also need to let you know that there is potential for us to be overwhelmed with requests for help in finding exchanges. Therefore, we feel the need to emphasize that we will do our best to help, but encourage you to make a sincere and proactive effort in finding an exchange before asking for our help.
Seeking USA Exchanges
Upcoming Events Worldwide…
Summer Olympics 2012
Our HomeLink UK Organizer has set up a registry of their HomeLink members’ homes near Olympic 2012 venues.
Click here for HomeLink UK Olympic Registry
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