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Spruce up Your Home Exchange Listing

Photo source: flickr, brockvicky

The March equinox is almost here and for those in the northern hemisphere it marks the start of spring. It’s a time for new beginnings, spring cleaning, and tidying up your IVHE listing. If you are in the southern hemisphere, it’s still a good idea.

Revisit your listing in this time of renewal and see if you can make it more enticing with a few edits. Start by asking yourself a simple question:  “Do I tell enough and show enough to stimulate interest and reassure a potential guest?” Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Description – Accurately and honestly tell potential guests what they can expect. Accentuate the positive, and address the negative if it warrants calling out. Since this section is the first one read, mention special features that might also appear in other sections -- such as Amenities or Activities – to emphasize unique experiences a guest may have.

Location – Be as specific as you can. Name the nearest city or town, and don’t just say “A charming village on the Adriatic coast.” If the town is quaint and small, also mention the nearest city with an airport used by commercial carriers. Guests need recognizable points of reference.

The best location information you can provide is a map. This element was added to new IVHE listings beginning June, 2013. If your listing is older than that, you can add a map link by simply updating details of your location.  “Map” will automatically appear in the listing header next to your availability calendar. A click to open it will show your general location, and a zoom-out function will show surrounding cities and landmarks.

Getting There – This element of your listing is a necessity. If you say your property is located 550 km west of Paris, don’t leave it at that. It begs the question: What is the easiest or quickest mode of transportation to get there? Train? Motor coach?  Is there a closer commercial airport? If driving is the only option, what is the best route and are there interesting things to see along the way?

Accommodations – Are the beds kings, queens, doubles, twins, futons, sofa beds, bunk beds, or air mattresses? Couples want to know. Unrelated people traveling together want to know. Parents want to know. And anybody with back problems wants to know. Are the bathrooms shared, private, ensuite, down the hall, or outside? Is there a tub, a shower, or a combination? Everyone wants to know that they’ll get a good night’s sleep and that the bathroom facilities will suit them.

Amenities – Your IVHE listing shows a checklist for amenities – general, kitchen, entertainment, external, and services.  Most are not uncommon. But if you have checked an extraordinary item like a private hot tub or sauna, or the availability of a housekeeper, cook or nanny, it is a good idea to call out these items in your general description to engage a potential guest early on.

Activities – This section is one of the most important in your listing. People don’t come to a vacation destination just to eat, sleep, and watch stunning sunsets over the mountains/ocean/desert, etc. The IVHE checklist in this section is pretty thorough, but if there is not enough items to cover everything to do and see at your location, add to or elaborate in the Description or Location narrative with emphasis on the unique experiences your destination has to offer.

What activities does your location offer the sports enthusiast?  The culture aficionado? The foodie or wine connoisseur?  Are there places where music lovers or nightspot partiers can go?  Are there any special events, festivals, or local celebrations that the guest might enjoy?  Every vacationer buys something to take home.  What are typical handicraft souvenirs or exceptionally good buys at your local shops and stores?  For people who just like to stroll and sightsee, where should they go?
Convenience should be a consideration in the activities you mention.  It is a bit of a stretch to say “A championship golf course is a mere hour and a half away.”

House Rules – Guests will want to know how to act around your antiques and art collection, where to clean fish, and if it’s okay to invite the local motorcycle club over for a beer and cigar bash in your living room.  Just state your rules in a friendly, straightforward way to avoid misunderstandings and problems down the road.

Photos -- One is never enough. Two or three, not hardly. Seven is getting there if they at least show the property exterior, the view, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room and living room. By all means include more than seven to show patios/terraces, pools/spas, or any unique features or amenities. Also, if you are making a car or other vehicle available to the guest, include a picture of it. Don’t forget to add a caption to each photo.

Personal Profile – A photo of your smiling face, along with your personal profile, creates an immediate connection. Tell a little about yourself, where you’re from, your interests, and perhaps a bit about your IVHE experiences.

Meet and Greet – If you will be available to welcome your guests at check-in, to give them an orientation tour and do the key exchange, say so in your personal profile. If someone else will have that responsibility – a property manager or other go-to person – your guests will appreciate an introduction in your profile and seeing a picture of that person’s face.
Bottom line: you’ll be a great host if you think like a guest. If you have any questions about your listing or any edits you may want to make, contact Suzie at  Happy spring, or autumn as the case may be.

Blogsmith:  Mike DiPrima

Home Exchange Charleston's beach islands

Charming Charleston and

The Spoleto Festival USA


Photo source: Spoletofestivalusa
Spoleto USA, in Charleston, South Carolina, is internationally recognized as America’s premier performing arts festival. It is  a 17-day extravaganza of chamber, symphonic, choral and jazz music;  opera, dance, and theater. More than 150 performances by renowned artists, as well as emerging performers, take place at venues, indoors and out, all over the city.  

It began in 1977 as a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy – the brainchild of Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti. And it has steadily grown in scope and prestige since then, today attracting fans from around the world. 

The dates for this year’s Spoleto USA is May 23 through June 8..  For complete information on shows, schedules, tickets, and venues, go to

It’s only fitting that an event of high culture should find its way to the “low country” and Charleston. Low country is where fresh water and ocean water merge in beautiful estuaries and marshes.  It’s an area of the South Carolina coast where great plantations thrived and aristocratic gentlemen and genteel ladies held sway.  

Charleston is a grand ol’ southern lady as genteel as they come.  She has withstood wars, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and hard economic times with her fan still fluttering. Her historic downtown district still boasts beautiful  pre-revolutionary and antebellum homes. Her neighborhoods and parks are as graceful as ever, adorned with majestic oak trees draped in Spanish moss, and azalea bushes that burst into spectacular colors in the spring.

The  marshes of the Low Country teem with shrimp, crab, oysters, and a wide variety of fish. Rice grows easily here. Seafood and rice dishes, influenced by Caribbean and African cuisine, are integral to  traditional Low Country cooking.  Many of Charleston’s  fine restaurants feature the favorites, such as She Crab Soup, Hoppin’ John, Shrimp and Grits, Frogmore Stew (no frogs involved), and upteen variations of rice pilaf.

Charleston won the CONDE NAST TRAVELER  2013 Readers’ Choice Award for “Top City in the U.S.”  And it won the award for the two preceding years as well. The Readers’ Choice Award is based on atmosphere and ambiance, culture and sites, friendliness and  restaurants. Charleston has also received accolades from TRAVEL & LEISURE and SOUTHERN LIVING magazines.

Not far from downtown, on several barrier islands, ocean side resorts give the grand ol’ lady a leisurely edge with luxurious places to relax and enjoy the palm trees and sea gulls,  or play golf on manicured fairways and ride horses on the beach. 

One such place is Isle of Palms, an affluent community on a barrier island 16 miles from
Charleston. It is joined to the mainland by a bridge spanning the Intracoastal Waterway.
 Isle of Palms vacation-home owners and year-round residents offer some fabulous properties for exchange.

Property #0626: Isle of Palms -- Five bedroom house with two master suites, elevator, and salt water pool.
Another choice spot with easy access to Charleston (24 miles away) is Seabrook Island, a private oceanfront community made for fishing, sunning on the beach, and challenging golf.

The closest beach island to Charleston is Folly Island, 12 miles away.  The IVHE home here -- Property #0049 -- is located on 18 acres of private land and offers seclusion, nature, and stunning sunrises. The three-bedroom house has the Folly River on one side and beaches of the Atlantic on the other

For more information on these Charleston-area beach homes, click the property number link. If you are not a member of the International Vacation Home Exchange and find the idea intriguing,  visit us at and check out WHO WE ARE, ABOUT US, and HOW IT WORKS.

As they say in Charleston, "Ya'll come back."

Blogsmith: Mike DiPrima


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