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So after the worst travel day ever and just barely making it to Australia, we thought we’d be on easy street. Nothing but blue clouds, rainbows, and unicorns from here on out right?
Turns out, we weren’t done with jumping through hoops to be in Australia yet. We had to prove we were worthy. And as such, our HomeExchange host in Sydney cancelled on us at the last minute, so we suddenly found ourselves (at least temporarily) homeless.
Now, of course, this is completely understandable, given that there was a medical emergency that the host had no control over.
Normally, if this were an Airbnb, we’d be scrambling to find a replacement at double or triple the cost (since as anyone who’s tried to book an Airbnb last minute in popular expensive cities know, the prices skyrocket and your options dwindle to almost nothing). And given Airbnb’s record of being ever so helpful, typically offering compensation of a measly 10% coupon of the total booking price, you’re basically bending over and kissing your ass goodbye at this point.
But luckily, we didn’t book an Airbnb. Our experience with HomeExchange was entirely different.
According to HomeExchange, if your host cancels this is what will happen:
- Your GuestPoints will be returned to your account
- HomeExchange will help you find an exchange replacement that meets the basic criteria of your search
- If HomeExchange cannot find you an exchange replacement, and you wish to cancel your trip, we will reimburse your non-refundable fees directly related to the exchange (tickets for the train, plane, etc.) up to $120 USD/per night, depending on the situation, and in the limit of $1800 USD per exchange.
- If HomeExchange cannot find you a substitute exchange, and you want to pay for alternative accommodation (for a hotel, for example), we will reimburse the charges you paid for the accommodation, up to $120 USD/per night, depending on the situation, and in the limit of $1 800 USD per exchange.
So, for those that are new to HomeExchange, Guest Points are for non-simultaneous exchanges where the parties exchanging homes don’t have the same travel schedule or don’t want to go to each other’s location. They have no monetary value and can’t be exchanged for cash. They act more like “I owe you’s” so that hosts can later use it later to stay at someone else’s place as a guest.
As a guest if you get cancelled on, your guest points come back to you right away so you can use it for a replacement. Then, HomeExchange is supposed to help you find a replacement that meets your criteria.
I have to admit, this worried me at first because the multiple times I got cancelled on on Airbnb, their support found “matching replacements” that not only did not have my original amenities (eg. pool), they weren’t even in the same city! So, of course I was skeptical.
But luckily, according to HomeExchange support, if they can’t find you a suitable replacement, they will either let you cancel your trip and re-imburse you or pay for a hotel up to $120 USD/night.
Sounds pretty sweet right? But does it live up to its promise? Did HomeExchange support actually help us?
Well, the first thing they did was return my guest points. Then they sent me a list of questions seeing how flexible I was about dates, location, etc. I said I wasn’t flexible about the dates at all since my fights were already booked. And since the original location was 5 km from a beach, they said they would need to match that criteria when finding a replacement. I was pretty flexible on that point, so I told them anywhere within 30 minutes public transport to downtown was also acceptable.
And then without me having to lift a finger, HomeExchange went through the hassle of sending messages on my behalf to all the hosts in the area to find a place that matched my criteria. Turns out they have the ability to send out an “SOS” message that reaches all hosts in the community, even those whose calendars weren’t open for the dates I wanted. This is because HomeExchange is a community of travellers and friends who want to help each other out, since no money changes hands, and in that sense is more altruistic rather than Airbnb, which is purely capitalistic.
A few hosts responded to say they had a room available but not the entire place to ourselves. HomeExchange support immediately told me to disregard those since they weren’t equivalent to my original booking of an entire condo to ourselves. They also told me to book a refundable hotel, up to $120 USD/night, just in case they can’t find me a suitable replacement.
Luckily, one member responded and said they would open up their pool house for us, even though they weren’t originally looking to host at that time. It ended up being a very comfy place with a pool, just a 20 minute bus ride into downtown and worked out swimmingly (pun intended).
The moral of the story is, when your host cancels on you (with good reason) and you are left stranded, HomeExchange makes the process hands-off and stress free for you. This was not the case with Airbnb, where I got cancelled on multiple times and had to scramble last min, only to get a crappier place that’s more expensive with very little help. When we first started travelling back in 2015, we lived almost exclusively in AirBnbs because they were such great value and their support was phenomenal. Now? I try to avoid Airbnb whenever I can now, because I’m just so sick of the terrible service (it takes days to get a real person to talk to you and even then they are reading from a script), the ghost hotels with bare minimum kitchen utensils, and the constantly worrying about getting cancelled on.
In contrast, HomeExchange support is so much better and I no longer have to worry about cancellations when I travel.
What do you think? Have you tried HomeExchange yet?
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