The wallet is getting tighter, but the wanderlust is by no means diminishing: many travelers are currently thinking about how they can spend their holidays in times of inflation and war without having to make major sacrifices. While some switch to short trips nearby, others are considering more unusual solutions.
One of them is the classic home exchange. This is possible, for example, via the international platform "HomeExchange". In an interview with stern, French CEO Emmanuel Arnaud explains why home exchange will shape the future of travel - and how holidaymakers can benefit from it.
The concept of home exchange is not necessarily new, but still not very common in Europe. You've been with HomeExchange since 2017, Emmanuel Arnaud. How has demand changed in recent years?
Emmanuel Arnaud: We brokered 1.3 million overnight stays via our platform this year. That is 40 percent more than before the coronavirus pandemic. We now have more than 100,000 members from 130 countries worldwide - and the trend is rising.
130 countries is a lot. Which ones are the most popular with your community this year?
In general, most exchanges take place in France, Spain, Italy, Canada and the United States. This year, our German members have primarily requested stays in France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA.
You mentioned the pandemic. How has it specifically impacted your industry?
Corona has undoubtedly given the entire industry a big boost. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that people travel with a smaller budget and are looking for the greatest possible degree of flexibility. Home exchange is cheap compared to other forms of travel and most of the accommodations on our platform can be canceled free of charge. In addition, you are the only resident of the accommodation.
There are more and more tourist offers that respond to the new circumstances caused by the pandemic. Why are you focusing on home exchange?
We want to enable everyone to travel more responsibly. To achieve this, we are committed to tourism that is more respectful of the world around us. With the concept of home exchange we are doing something against mass tourism and overbuilding in tourist areas. Instead, we focus on hospitality and healthy togetherness.
Hospitality instead of mass tourism sounds tempting to everyone at first. So who is home exchange the right way to travel?
Our main target group are families with children and teenagers. This is because home exchange is a very easy and convenient way of traveling for them. They stay in inhabited houses where everything they need for everyday life on vacation is already waiting for them. So you can feel right at home, wherever you are. But single travelers, pensioners and couples also use the home exchange to mingle with the locals on vacation.
How exactly does home exchange work on your platform?
There are two options: unilateral or mutual exchange of apartments. In the case of a one-way exchange, for example, I drive to the host, who does not come to me in return, but receives guest points with which he can then "pay" for another accommodation via our platform. In a mutual exchange, the host also comes to me, either at the same time or at a different time. To access the community, members have to pay a one-time fee of 149 euros, otherwise the mediation is free of charge.
As a traveler, what should I consider when exchanging apartments?
Home exchange is always based on hospitality. As a host, you open the doors of your home to a stranger. As a guest, we are received as warmly as if we were friends or family. The whole thing only works with trust and respect. We have put together six golden rules for our platform that must be observed:
With HomeExchange, you want to play your part in making travel more sustainable and affordable. How do you see the future of travel?
There will be fewer and fewer places that are spared from mass tourism. The idea that more responsible tourism is needed is not new. We believe it is important to advocate for more sustainable tourism that benefits both humanity and the planet. The coronavirus pandemic has shaken tourism worldwide. Therefore, now is the ideal time to define the tourism we want to develop in the world: a tourism that creates space for ecology and responsibility.
And what exactly can such tourism look like?
Basically, we should develop a people-tailored, personal hospitality that encourages sharing, instead of continuing to create homogeneous and standardized hotel complexes. We need to help regions and tourist centers to involve local people in their projects to avoid fragmentation and local reluctance to tourism. In the end, it's about making holidays accessible to everyone - because everyone needs relaxation from time to time.