A great concept for the tourism sector, particularly in times of economic uncertainty when people feel the pinch restricting their lifestyle, is HomeExchange, which is monitoring and shaping these trends to its advantage. This has never been more important, and the focus is on ways to connect people with similar lifestyles who want to share and exchange.
“Once upon a time people who exchanged their homes were considered as unusual… Today, everyone knows someone who does this. The concept has become mainstream”, says founder and CEO Ed Kushins. “In 2014, we expect an acceleration of activity which will grow to 130,000 the number of exchanges, i.e. 17% more than in 2013”.
Sharing has been an entrenched human behaviour since time immemorial, and today it is thanks to technology that collaborative consumption has emerged as such a potent force – in particular, this is due to the interconnected nature of our smartphone- and social-network-oriented lives. It is thanks to technology, that HomeExchange members can enjoy access to a shared economy. It is clear that a great deal can change in a decade.
As an outcome of the new HomeExchange.com website launched in the autumn, the connection between potential partners has been highly facilitated and the number of exchanges has increased.
Profile information encourages the community to search by affinities. Golfers find golf courses all around the world, surfers find renowned spots, and food lovers gourmet kitchens and local markets. Ditto for dog-owners and garden-lovers. Everyone benefits from the advice given by partners. And by living in exchanged homes, they all save between 50 and 70 % on their travel expenses.
In Britain 66% of holidays are geared to pursue favourite hobbies or activities; 55% seek a holiday- break where they can see the benefit to local communities; 60% seek holidays off the beaten track and almost 60% look for the type of accommodation where they can find locally sourced food and produce**. And in all these instances, the concept of HomeExchanging allows sharing a lifestyle too: families with young children meet families like them in the community. They exchange baby equipment and bicycles in addition to homes. With this in mind, the new website’s multi- criteria search function includes pin-pointing location, but also the style of holiday and many special requests, such as a non- smoking home, a gym, a pool, or accessibility for disabled.
“It is just the beginning,” says HomeExchange COO Jim Pickell. “Our community is growing quickly, and with it the diversity of Members and variety of listings. By making available advanced technology to create win-win matches and offer extensive Member reviews, we facilitate trust among Members around the world.”