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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


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