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Welcome to our Summer 2013 edition of HomeLink Connection!
The heat has arrived and along with it, our busiest time of year for exchanging. Please read our ‘Just a Reminder…’ and ‘Helpful Hints…’ sections to help you make the most of your exchange experience this season.
We also are pleased to introduce a new HomeLinker to our home swap bloggers. She has also developed a comprehensive website for you to learn everything there is to know about home exchange. Please see our ‘HomeLinker Blogs and Websites…’ section for more detail.
Our ‘Media…’ section is chock full of stories and interviews that are both entertaining and informative. You will enjoy numerous media venues with this issue including a magazine article, a radio interview and a TV interview!
Don’t miss our latest installment of ‘HomeLinker Stories…’ we have received. As always, they are most entertaining!
We hope you enjoy our newsletter and welcome any feedback you may have: email@example.com.
Have a great Summer!
Karl & Katie Costabel
HomeLink USA News
Just a Reminder…
Respond to All Exchange Requests Received:
We certainly appreciate that responding to all exchange requests received can be burdensome at times, especially for those members with homes in the more popular destinations.
To begin, we, as HomeLink Organizers, encourage all of our respective members to continue replying to all messages received for a couple of reasons. First, it is the polite and respectful thing to do and second because of our Response Rate feature posted within each listing. Many members have informed us that they shy away from listings with low percentage rates.
We wish we could magically remove the onerous task of replying to all the requests received, but want to assure you that the automated "No Thank You" message is more than just those words. Below is the actual message content,
"Thank you for your kind offer. Unfortunately I cannot accept, as it does not suit my plans at this time. I wish you all the best with finding a suitable exchange."
Our automated response is especially intended to help those HomeLinkers who receive numerous requests on a regular basis. This automated response is designed to minimize the time it takes responding personally to the numerous requests received and enables the sender to move forward with their efforts in finding a suitable exchange.
Send Requests to Members With Similar Preferences:
Please do not send exchange requests based solely on a home’s location. It is very important to read the entire listing’s contents (Preferred Periods & Destinations, home details and descriptions, etc) of your potential exchange partners to make sure your basic details are a good match.
As always, this mutual respect for one another is essential for successful home exchanging and we appreciate your considered efforts when sending your exchange requests.
Exchange Evaluation Forms:
Please make a point of completing our Online Exchange Evaluation Forms after each exchange. These serve as a useful reference for your Exchange Partner’s future exchanges.
Also, we recommend requesting your exchange partner to complete one for you. This will provide a reference for your future Exchange Partners.
The link to our Exchange Evaluation Forms is found under “Member Options” at the left side of our Database Main Page after logging in.
HomeLinker Blogs & Websites:
We are happy to introduce another website and blog from our longtime member, Lauren K. She has been with HomeLink for over 20 years, so is well placed to have developed this comprehensive website and blog covering everything from choosing the right home swap organization for you to preparing your home for exchange as well as countless entertaining stories of her home swap adventures through the years.
She told us that she went on 7 different exchanges during 2012 (6 of which were through HomeLink---good stuff, Lauren!)
We value your input very much, Lauren and thank you for spreading the word about our wonderful way of travel.
The next link (below) is to fellow HomeLinker, Siggy B's Blog, Intrepid Homeswappers. As always, she shares her home swapping experiences that are both entertaining and informative. Her two most recent posts explain what is involved in preparing for an exchange and also some inside tips on German airports. Thanks, again, Siggy. Your blog posts are always welcome additions to our newsletters!
Our first media story is from the March 2013 edition of Matters Magazine based out of New Jersey. Fellow HomeLinkers, Brian Kelly & Trent O, share their experience from the numerous European exchanges they have enjoyed through the years.
Thanks for sharing this article with us, Brian & Trent.
Please click the link below to the archived article (sorry for the delay in getting this to our newsletter…). Next click the magnifying glass icon at top and search for “brian”. This will send you to the first page of the article (p.40).
Home Swap, by: Tia Swanson, Matters Magazine, March 2013
Our next media link is to a recent radio interview from WGNradio.com out of Chicago. The interview was with HomeLink Turkey members and was sent to us by their future exchange partners and our dear HomeLink USA members, Syd & Jo G.
What a treat is was to listen to this couple as they spoke about their home swapping adventures and HomeLink, exclusively.
Thanks for sending this our way, Syd & Jo and hope you have a great Hospitality Exchange with them this fall.
Interview with HomeLink Turkey Members on Radio 720 WGN The Voice of Chicago, with Brian Noonan, May 12, 2013
Our final Media Story for this issue is from Shelley Miller, our longtime HomeLink Member and Home Exchange Expert
Shelley, thanks so much for mentioning us in this wonderful interview you had with Alexis of Good Morning San Diego. It was great to see the directories again, which was really helpful in showing the viewers just how many of us are out there enjoying this wonderful way of travelling!
Good Morning San Diego TV Interview with Shelley Miller, June 16, 2013
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 HomeLink.US@gmail.com and let us know if it would be okay to include your name.
Fortunately, we continue receiving many stories from all of you. Therefore, we are unable to include all we have received. If you don’t see your story in this issue, we promise it will be in an upcoming edition of HomeLink Connection.
Thanks, again, to all of you for such a wonderful response to this section!
Both of our Member Stories included in this issue were sent to us by fellow, longtime HomeLinkers, Dick & Phyllis M. They are no longer active home swappers, but as Dick explained to us recently, “…Our travel now is limited to story telling but that is fun too….” We are very grateful for your enthusiastic story telling and look forward to hearing from you again.
Upon clicking the link below, you will be transported to far off lands through their image-filled prose…enjoy!
On The Road To Morocco
The Mulligan’s 2nd story (link below) tells briefly of their many adventures through HomeLink as well as offering some sound advice and guidance on home exchanging.
“Our Place or Yours”
Leave a Welcome &/or Thank you Gift for Your Exchange Partner:
To begin, I want to share with you an amazing gift crafted from the hands of our fellow HomeLinker, Dave B. He graciously sent this to Karl & I a while back explaining how he creates one of these amazing cutting boards and leaves it as a gift with each of their exchange partners in appreciation of their generous hospitality. Although the photo does not capture the intricate beauty of this piece, it certainly illustrates what a thoughtful and creative HomeLink tradition Dave and his wife, Sallie have started!
Thank you so much for this wonderful gift, Dave & Sallie and although you insist it works great as a cutting board, I simply can’t bear to tarnish such a lovely work of art!
Of course, not all of us are graced with such talent, but leaving a nice bottle of wine or local specialty is always a wonderful way to welcome and/or thank your exchange partner. We hope you consider something along these lines with all your exchanges.
Fine Wood Carving by:
Fellow HomeLinkers, Rolf Kramer & Lucy M., recently inquired about how to work with your car insurance company prior to arranging a car exchange. Below is our usual response to this question for your review.
Further, Rolf & Lucy replied providing even more valuable advice they received from their car insurance company.
Of course, each car insurance company is different, however Rolf & Lucy’s advice is certainly worth considering.
Thanks, Rolf & Lucy for adding what you have learned to this often discussed topic.
HomeLink USA’s initial piece of advice:
“…we recommend sticking to terms like "house guest" and "3rd party drivers" when speaking with your car insurance company regarding fellow HomeLinkers using your car. Most insurance companies are unfamiliar with the concept of home swapping and view this more as a commercial, impersonal type arrangement in that you are letting complete strangers use your car where this is not the case. Through the course of your communication with your exchange partner when arranging the exchange, you develop a trusting relationship with that person and therefore the "stranger" element has been removed…”
Rolf & Lucy’s specific guidance from their insurance company:
“…Apparently it is not an issue with our insurance carrier, Erie. However, my agent did point out that we are opening [ourselves] up to some potential liability issues if one of our guests has an automobile accident since the accident would be charged to us. She also mentioned the possibility that in a multiple car collision lawsuits may exceed the amount of coverage. She suggested an umbrella policy, which as a real estate agent I should have anyway. So Lucy and I are going to allow the use of a car but pick up an umbrella insurance policy. Rolf”
Rest assured, exchange cancellations are extremely rare and have only occurred due to unforeseen, emergency circumstances. We also want you to know that we have an almost 100% success rate in finding an alternate exchange for the HomeLinker who has suffered the cancellation.
We encourage all of our members to let us know if, on the rare occasion, you experience a cancellation, so we can help in finding an alternate exchange for you.
HomeLink International News
We thought you might appreciate a walk down memory lane with the (2) photos below. They are both from HomeLink International Annual Meetings of the contemporary HomeLink Organizers of the time.
The first is from the mid 1980’s (pre Karl Costabel for HomeLink USA). Our predecessors and founders of HomeLink USA (formerly Vacation Exchange Club), David Ostroff, and his lovely wife, Mary, are seated in the front row and are 3rd and 4th from right, respectively.
This next photo is from our 1990 meeting and includes Karl (that handsome guy in the back with the mustache :)). What wonderful group of people!
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