HomeExchange.com

Make Yourself at Home... Anywhere in the World!

Monday 3 June 2013, by BvdMeerendonk, LucasB

12 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.
HomeExchange.com is exactly what the name states: a platform where one can exchange homes with others.
The idea behind the firm is to create a possibility for users of its platform to exchange their house for a house elsewhere, whether it is overseas or within a same country all in a single, cheap price. In essence, it offers the service to create a home experience away from home. The principle is rather intriguing because it creates a new form of holidaying to the traditional vacationer. It also opens up the chances to experience a remote location in its true essence, without the touristic extras that hotels and motels provide. It also makes the actual act of vacationing a lot cheaper for the platform’s user because it can save hotel costs. (The Film “The Holiday” is an example of such an exchange)

This website was created in 1992 by an avid traveller (Ed Kushins) who already had made several home exchanges in the past. It is now considered as the market leader in this sector, with over 46,000 listings covering over 150 countries and increasing. It is stated that there are more than 150,000 actual house exchanges occurring each year on this particular website.

The platform is consisted in several different languages as well, offering the best communication service to different types of customers. These languages are as followed: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Finnish, Hungarian and Turkish to name a few.

All this service comes at one price for each user: 7.95 EUR per month.

B. What are the advantages of using this website as a consumer?

This company has been set up by avid travellers, for avid travellers. The practice of home exchanging is not a new business; many travellers already have done the practice before HomeExchange.com existed. However this webpage has an advantage because it networks a larger group of travellers locally in one website. Other key reason to HomeExchange.com’s success is its exclusivity, its record of transactions and user-involvedness.

The website offers exclusivity to the users because there is a whole set of check points one needs to go through in order to set up and account. One, first of all, needs to be able to pay the fee to be able to proceed to the next step. This step is setting up information about your house. Without information on any of these two, your account will not be made. This offers optimum security to the product offered to the account holders that are using the platform.

Another reason why this company differs from the traditional way of home exchanging is that it keeps record of what transactions have occurred in the past with a certain account/house. This record can show to other fellow travellers whether the other man’s account is the correct one for them to use.

HomeExchange.com allows users to give an opinion about an exchange that has occurred in the past. This bit of detail is vital for both the company and the users because it offers a “humane” opinion about any transaction that actually happens. The need for positive feedback from other users creates a sense of security within the system. Everyone seems to know and understand that opinions need to be left behind in order to make the system work efficiently. Bad rating will pop out badly, and therefore it will make the users want good feedback, meaning good behaviour.

Above all, this website allows the users to decide what is considered as a “fair trade”. There is no money attached to the trade, it is completely the user’s decision whether to proceed or decline the offer.

C. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

Home Exchange tackles two ethical challenges: (One main challenge and the other a side challenge)

Main: An Adaption to Address Wasted Spaces in Urban Areas

If one looks at the future, this way of travelling could minimize a lot of space in cities in the future. If cities grow to the size that people predict them to be we have to be very careful of what spaces we use. The deforestation occurring due to cities growing larger and larger is an alarming situation known to mankind. Home Exchange’s idea, not necessarily their practice, can offer a solution to the wastage of space in the future.

Take for example a hotel: In normal practices 50% of the hotel’s capacity is generally an empty space throughout a year. If the cities grow at the same way they are doing at the moment, with the same ratio of hotels placed in the cities, we will end up with a proportionally larger 50% empty space rate in these cities only due to hotels.

Homeexchange.com could change this empty space size if users use their platform, this because a house will always be occupied whether a person is at home or travelling. People will always be in the house and the need for hotel rooms would decrease.

Side: Non-monetary Based Travel Experience

Making transfers without a transferring of anything in monetary terms. This way of doing business seems like rather a new way of negotiating because the houses will be compared by looks, rather than price. Economies are left out of the window for there is no need to look at it that way. It actually allows for people to appreciate what they have in their homes already, without putting other’s opinions on the items.

It is a funny concept to think about, but this way of exchanging homes means that currencies, governmental impositions and other society norms will be almost ignored. This way of vacationing seems like the most ethical because you are doing it whilst helping another fulfilling a dream to travel elsewhere in the same way as well.

D. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

Due to the fact that the company was built by travelers, for travelers (and the fact that I have used the system successfully) one can gain confidence that the website is built by people that have the know-how in the sector. The defining reason for trusting this company is the fact that there are reviews left after each exchange. This aggregated amount of reviews filters out the faulty, unwanted users; creating a database that is made trustworthy by people outside of the company itself.

Apart from this, for HomeExchange.com should be trustworthy because there is no other incentive for the website to make more profit off of your exchange apart from the fee that gets realized is your subscription. In principle this would mean the company will not interfere with your exchange but only aid for the exchange to occur. In order to have constant use of their website by the consumers, Homeexchange’s main attribute is to assure quality to the users, and therefore the website should run efficiently.

E.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

The obvious answer to this question is Growth! The US Market has 125 million houses, whilst HomeExchange.com users in that same market only sums up to plausibly 50,000 houses. There is, therefore, still a lot of potential to grow.

Another main challenge for this company in the future is to make the platforms data as diverse as possible. They need to make sure that there is an equal and opposite version of every house, hopefully in every city, in order to offer their customers/users the full experience. This way the consumers will be able to access the database and find various locations to travel to.

Bibliography

http://www.homeexchange.com/pr/Forbes%20121100.pdf
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shelley-miller/a-virtually-free-vacation_b_1456096.html
http://www.homeexchange.com/press/fact.html
http://www.homeexchange.com/press/backgrounder.html

Location: Hermosa Beach, California (USA)

Sector: Other service activities, Accommodation and food service activities, Real estate activities

Official website: http://www.homeexchange.com

Key figures:

4.2 USD million Revenues
6 Employees
46,000 Users
157% 3 Year Growth
150 Countries
7.95EUR Monthly Subscription

Nbr. visits: 421

Nbr. inspires: 12