Arranging Your First Home/Office Swap

Your profile is filled out and your home/office is properly listed. Now it's time to start planning your trip and searching for the perfect exchange partner. These tips also work in reverse, when you've been contacted by another member to explore a possible home/office exchange.

Be Flexible

When you begin your search for a home/office swap, keep an open mind. Decide on a timeframe for when you want to travel: a weekend, a week, a month or longer. And know generally when you want to travel: next month, in the fall, next summer. But at this point, know that exact dates will be finalized later. The key to finding the right situation for both parties is allowing for all possibilities. You never know where you may end up and the experiences you'll encounter; that's the beauty of traveling.

Now start searching through the listings and find possible locations that you would like to go. Maybe a summer in Italy is the perfect time and place to hold a business retreat. Or maybe plan a getaway in South America for the winter, right before the cold weather hits. Use the Swap My Office filters to sort through necessary requirements and amenities needed during your stay.

Just give yourself plenty of time to plan and prepare. While some members are prepared to be spontaneous (and love it!), you'll give yourself a greater chance for success by planning well in advance.

Contact Multiple Users

Before you contact other members, read their profile carefully to see if there are any restrictions in their listing that may not be right for your situation. Use your best judgment as to who might be a potential swap-mate.

Now it's time to reach out to all potential swap-mates. Start by contacting members who are looking for an exchange in the date ranges that you have in mind. Then contact members looking for swap dates that are just outside of that timeline. Turn that weekend trip into a weeklong retreat. And keep in mind that some members have not specified a desired date range for exchanging. Don't hesitate to contact them as well. The more people you reach out to, the better.

In your initial email, be up front about what you're looking for: the ideal length of stay, the purpose of your trip, who will be traveling with you, if you have children, pets, etc. Find something in their profile that stuck out to you and add it into your message. Like in business, it's about connecting with potential partners.

Open Up a Dialogue/Choose the Right Situation

Once the replies start reaching your inbox, respond to the ones that seem like a right fit, while politely declining any that unfortunately won't work out. For the opportunities that seem like a match, start an open conversation with your potential swap-mate(s). If they didn't include it in their response email, get a sense for the things that they're looking for in a swap. Find out if they have any specific requirements that they will need during their stay. The more information you can gather beforehand the better. It will help you narrow down your choices and find the perfect match.

Once you've decided on which swap will work out for both parties, start the planning process. Finalize arrival and departure dates. Coordinate key exchanges and arrange for emergency contacts. Give them directions on how to get to your home/office and other transportation or transit information. Send your swapmate any passwords for wifi and Internet access and codes for any lockboxes on your door, alarm system, etc.

For a complete to-do list on setting up your home/office for a swap, read Preparing Your Home and Office for Visitors.