Guest blog post: Janis Fisher Chan is a writer, editor and passionate traveller who loves home exchanging. If you love travel and love getting a real feel for your destination, Janis encourages you to try home swapping!
We’ve just agreed to a 2-month home exchange holiday with the owners of a Paris apartment. I’m excited about going back to Paris, but I have to admit to a little anxiety. What if our home exchange partners back out or have to cancel at the last minute? What if their apartment isn’t what we expect it to be? What if they don’t take good care of our home while they’re staying here?
So much to worry about, even before deciding what to pack! But there’s an important thing I’ve learned as a long-time home swapper: the best way to alleviate my anxiety is to build trust. Trust between hosts and guests helps to build confidence that everyone is who they seem to be and will honour their commitments.
It takes time to build trust
We’ve done more than half a dozen home exchanges and rented out our home innumerable times, so I know that trust doesn’t come overnight. A few message exchanges and a cursory glance at the home swap site reviews aren’t enough. Building trust between hosts and guests takes intention and time, starting with the inquiry and continuing all the way through up until your travel dates.
Building trust requires good ongoing communication
Communication is the key ingredient in building trust and successful home exchanging. Communication helps you and your guests get to know one another, clarify expectations, and confirm agreements. Communication is how you learn one another’s concerns and avoid the misunderstandings that can potentially cause problems.
Messaging through the home swap website or via email is perfectly fine for introductions, asking practical questions, and sharing details. But all the message / email exchanges in the world are no substitute for the back-and-forth of direct conversations. We always make it a point to talk with guests by phone or via Skype / Zoom during the planning stages of a home swap holiday.
Tip: Listen carefully. People tend to trust one another more when they know that they are being heard. In both email and direct conversations, answer questions clearly. If you’re not sure what the other person is saying, make sure to ask.
To build trust, tell the truth
Trust comes when people share information openly and answer questions truthfully. This starts with your home exchange listing. What guests find when they arrive at your home should closely match what they’ve seen in the photos and read in listing's description, so make sure they are accurate and complete.
To build trust, always tell your guests the truth, and expect the truth from them.
To build trust, show respect
Trust and respect go hand-in-hand. There are several ways to show respect when you’re arranging a home exchange holiday. Respond quickly to requests. Encourage the guest to ask questions and answer theirs clearly and accurately. Be friendly and polite in messages/emails and direct conversation. Show that you understand what’s important to the other person, and if issues come up, show that you are willing to help.