We recently talked with the Agust and Eva, founders of the Barcelona-based Behomm, “The first home exchange community for creatives and design lovers.” Here’s what they had to say.
Travel on the House: What inspired you to create a home exchange site for creative people?
Behomm: We created Behomm because we personally needed it. We are passionate home exchangers, and we were wasting many time on other home exchange sites searching for people like us with a similar love for beauty. Behomm is a dream of creating a secure community of friends of friends, all aesthetic lovers, for sharing homes for vacations with no money in between.
Our community is an “oasis” where you can enjoy life by staying at beautiful homes and meeting interesting people, with no money among members. We may be the first home exchange site with no renting. Renting is about making money while home exchange is about sharing your home. A total different experience and both concepts, Home exchange and renting, should not be mixed. Offering your home for rent in Behomm is forbidden by our legal terms.
Travel on the House: If you could only give one piece of advice to someone who’s thinking about listing their home for exchange, what would it be?
Behomm: Only one? We’d say…Watch out! Because once you try it… it is ADDICTIVE! After a home exchange, you’ll reaffirm your faith in human beings. You enjoyed life without paying any money for accommodation. People shared what they had. You’ll feel a better world is possible!
Travel on the House: What is your number-one piece of travel advice for families with young children who want to do a home exchange?
Behomm: Our kids are not kids any more 🙂 They are 22 and 20 years old. But yes, we started doing home exchange when they were kids. Our tip would be to exchange with members like you: a family with kids same age if possible. You will fit much more comfortably with a person or family that matches you: with kids; family size, child age(s)…Their home will be prepared for your family. They will recommend places and activities of your same family interests. You match.
Travel on the House: Why did you make Behomm an “invitation-only” website? Have you had any specific experiences that led you to making it “invitation-only?”
Behomm: Security is the first thing in our community. We still remember the feeling when we first joined a home exchange site many years ago, it was a feeling of insecurity and lack of privacy: “any person can access the site and see our home,” “they will see our private spaces,” “they can guess where we live,” “we don’t know any person on this site,” “you pay and you join”….
The idea of Behomm came to our minds: a private community, avoiding anonymous registrations and where only members and visitors with a personal invitation can see the homes.
Travel on the House: What are some problems you’ve experienced or heard about that have made home exchanges not work out as planned? Thinking back, what could the home exchangers have done to avoid those problems?
Behomm: Since we launched 4 years ago there have been few problems: two families complained about the cleaning (standard varies among countries and people), one about hidden key information, a few others about poor electricity in a jungle cabin in a jungle, broken window glass. To avoid misunderstandings and problems, we highly encourage all members to fill in the agreement we provide when closing an exchange.
Travel on the House: What would you say to people who want to be sure that the exchange home is what they expect it to be?
Behomm: If a member is not sure about making the exchange, about whether the house will meet their expectations, we suggest that before saying “yes,” ask for further information and pictures of the house so that they can feel sure of it.
Travel on the House: What can home exchangers do to make their partners comfortable and help them enjoy their stay?
Behomm: The very most important thing: Treat them as their guests. This is the attitude when doing home exchange.
- Be as kind and generous as possible. At Behomm we believe home exchange is not just about finding free accommodations around the world or saving money. It’s about sharing and making personal connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures.
- Leave your home very clean, organized and well maintained.
- Be honest about your home and area description. Don’t exaggerate. Explain any downside. You don’t want your guests to be disappointed.
- Share your favorite places: Leave a map with your favorite restaurants, shops, art exhibitions, hidden squares.
- Tell your guests what to see and what to avoid! They¹ll be very grateful.
- Invite guests over for lunch or dinner on their arrival. If you cannot, because your flight is at the same time, welcome them with a bottle of wine, some flowers and a traditional meal from your country in the fridge.
- While you’re away, stay in contact in case they need help or tips about the area.
- When you leave their home, leave a thank-you note and/or a small gift.
Travel on the House: What can exchangers do if one partner has to cancel or come home early?
Behomm: We believe that signing a home exchange agreement is like signing a rental contract. You should only break it under a real emergency: for example, death of a family member or a terrible illness which prevents you from travelling.
If it happens, you should work hard to find another home for your guests, maybe with a relative or friends. Once some members from New York realized the night before their exchange partners were arriving that by the legal terms of their building they could not do home exchange. They paid for their guests to stay at a hotel.
A commitment is a commitment, and that is the basis of home exchange. If a potential member thinks they cannot follow these rules of home exchange, Behomm is not for them.
Travel on the House: What’s the best home exchange experience you’ve had or heard about? The worst?
Behomm: We have already done 20 home exchanges in 8 years. None bad. Really. The best? Each exchange has its charm… maybe the most outstanding home exchange remembrances are those related to the people, to the home exchange partners you meet, more than the homes, cities or landscapes you enjoy. Because home exchange gives you the valuable experience of entering somebody’s life.
Many thanks to Agust and Eva for talking with us about their passion for home exchange.
Check out Behomm.com to learn more about this wonderful home exchange community!