On Wednesday, at the request of the American team, we closed our office in Boston.

On Thursday evening, after the address of the President of the French Republic, we decided to close our office in Paris until further notice.

HomeExchange has a strong tradition of working remotely. About 25% of the team are working remotely full-time, and 100% of the team work remotely at least once per week. For this reason, it's probably easier for us than for other companies, but this long period will probably still be a new challenge for the company and for the team. We will have to reinvent the way we work, communicate with each other, to get together without the spontaneous informal nooks of the office and we’ll be able to achieve this thanks to our digital tools. (Thanks, Slack, Zoom, Notion, GoogleDrive, etc.)

I feel that the team is sad and has a hard time planning for these *at least* 3 weeks of loneliness working at home. It is in these moments that we see that we have created a "family".

On the business side, it's obviously very difficult. One of the most affected industries is the travel industry. Activity on the site has declined by more than 50%. Turnover has dropped by more than 30% compared to the trend from the last 6 months. We’ve now mobilised the entire team to be centred around our Members: to assist with cancellations and requests for information.

If every crisis is indicative of problems, I think it can also help us grow. With us, the Coronavirus crisis makes me more aware of the strength of the concept of home-exchange: the people and communication. Some concrete examples:

A community that makes us believe in humanity

Each cancellation is made with the understanding of his exchange partner: we discuss, we understand the concerns of our exchange partner, and so on. We feel a real sense of community between our members. Far from the client-agent relationships that can quickly become strained at these times.

The yearly subscription changes a lot

Our model is based on a yearly subscription. You didn’t have to pay for the exchange so you can just contact your exchange partner to cancel it. There is no additional cost, nor need for negotiation.

To be at home, in a house that has been shared with us

Welcome home, anywhere in the world. Our signature clearly expresses the benefit that we find in the concept: being at home, with a Member who has shared his/her house with us. Far from the concepts of cruises or rental homes, we can therefore be as careful as we would be if we stayed at home.

The future begins today

Despite the announcements, more than 250 exchanges were organized on the HomeExchange platform on Friday. Obviously this cannot be compared with our usual figures but it seems like our Members are already planning for their future vacations!

We can't wait to open the office again, to find ourselves together as a “family”, but this won't stop us from continuing to help our community go on vacation in exchange for a house.

These exchanges will probably not take place in March or April but I am sure that quickly, we will start exchanging again in France and around the world.

Take care, everyone!


Translated from the original post in French here.

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