Messaging etiquette when arranging a home exchange

Home swap message etiquette
Be polite: make sure to reply to all home swap messages you receive

One of the the biggest frustrations faced when organising a home exchange is having slow replies or no replies to enquiry messages. At Home Base Holidays we always try to emphasise the importance of replying to all messages you receive even if just to say "Thanks for your offer but it is not what I am looking for". 

As mentioned, waiting on a reply to your home swap message can be very frustrating but try to be a little patient. Remember that some members may be very computer savvy and online throughout the day whereas others may only check their emails once or twice a week. There can of course be other reasons why a member might not be able to reply right away, such as:  they may be travelling and without internet access, they may be ill or have a family/work crisis, their computer might have crashed, your message alert might have ended up in their spam folder or the member may have just accidentally overlooked the message alert (see below "What should I do if I do not receive a reply?"). 

Home swapping message etiquette

Home swap offers received:

  • Acknowledge all home exchange offers within a week of receipt. 
  • Try to check your emails and/or the home swap site's messages every day if possible. 
  • If you need time to think about an offer, reply to the member to let them know and try to give them a timescale for you to make a definite answer.
  • If you are considering more than one exchange offer, make your decision as quickly as possible and let other members you have been communicating with know without delay. Let such members know if you would like to consider their offer, if available, at a later date.
  • If a member fails to respond to your offer, or to follow up within the time frame agreed, re-send your offer (in case they missed your original message), with a note to say that you are looking forward to hearing soon whether or not they may be interested in your offer.

Communication before a home swap is agreed:

This is the period when regular communication is crucial so that each member knows the other is genuinely interested in pursuing the exchange.

  • Agree to keep in regular contact (say a minimum of once every two weeks) - asking/answering questions, sharing information but, if nothing crops up, still send short notes regularly just to keep in touch.
  • If you will be out of contact for awhile, let your exchange partner know when you will next be able to check email and respond to messages.
  • Exchange alternative means of communication - phone, email, Skype, WhatsApp, etc
  • Arranging consecutive swaps? If you plan to arrange two, three or even more consecutive home swaps, make sure all members you are communicating with are aware of this. Arranging more than one exchange requires a great deal of organisation and coordination.

Period leading up to the home swap holiday:

  • Once a home exchange has been agreed and you've set up your home exchange agreement form on the site, continue corresponding regularly as a reassurance that all is well. A lapse in communication, with no advance notice, could be an early warning of a problem. 
  • Never cancel an agreed home exchange (the only exception to this is a serious illness or death in the family, or unforeseen situations such as a fire or natural disaster). In the unlikely event you do have to break a firm agreement, let your exchange partners know immediately and do all you can to help them with alternative accommodation (if you cannot find suitable alternative accommodation, at least agree to share the cost of a rental).
  • Continue to respond promptly to any further exchange offers you receive. If any are of interest, suggest an exchange at a later date. If unable to consider further exchange offers at this time, go to Home Base Holidays and log in to your member area, and select "Exchange Arranged" next to your listing.

What should I do if I do not receive a reply?

  • Swap agreed: if you've agreed a swap but are now unable to get in touch with the member through the swap site, try contacting the member via their email or phone number. If you do not have their email or phone number, get in touch with us at Home Base Holidays and we will try to contact them for you. 
  • First enquiry message: be patient and give them up to a week to reply. If after a week you have still not received a response, try sending a follow up message. If you still do not get a response, either choose to move on or, if particularly interested in the home swap offer, contact us at Home Base Holidays and we will try to get in touch with the member for you. 

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