The HomeLink Story
The history of HomeLink is the story of a simple idea that has found its time. Anticipating an era of personalised travel organised in a spirit of trust and sharing, HomeLink pioneered a holiday travel alternative to commercial arrangements and has established itself as the gold standard in home exchange since 1953.
A young teacher in New York, David Ostroff, types up a list of fellow teachers looking for an economical way to spend the summer - away from the bustling city. The list is shared with other educators in neighbouring towns and States who crave the excitement of the Big Apple. Contact is made, and teachers agree to swap their homes for the summer. The first home exchange network is born!
Word spreads quickly. More and more teachers and professors join Ostroff’s “Vacation Exchange Club”. Pan American World Airways contacts Ostroff for the coordination of home exchange among their corporate employees worldwide. The hand-typed lists of home-exchange offers become booklets edited for an international audience.
David Ostroff pools resources with Jan Ryder, head of a small network in the UK, comprised primarily of members of the Armed Forces, and works briefly with the French creator of Intervac until 1981.
The HomeLink network expands. Representatives are recruited in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland - to offer advice and support to home swappers around the world. The booklets of listings become catalogues, as the concept of home exchange continues to gain momentum.
HomeLink representatives increase in number with the addition of Australia, Austria, Brazil, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Iceland, New Zealand, Russia, and Turkey. Catalogues of home exchange listings, now thick as phonebooks, are printed five times a year. But they can’t keep up with the ever-increasing number of HomeLink members around the world. Global internet access offers a welcome solution. HomeLink goes digital and creates the first home exchange internet site, translated into 17 languages. Members can now post their listings on-line and find exchanges instantly using advanced search criteria.
The new millennium sees the emergence of a more personalized approach to traveling, and HomeLink attracts an ever-growing group of like-minded people: those concerned about the environment, who shy away from large tourist developments - detrimental to the eco-system
The world economic crisis looms, and the HomeLink network continues to expand as more and more young families, professionals, and seniors look to home exchange as an expression of solidarity as well as a unique alternative to offer each other fabulous vacations thanks to the exchange of trust and collaboration, at no commercial cost.
It’s HomeLink’s 60th birthday! HomeLink invests massively in a new central website featuring dynamic search engines, geo-localization, translation options, a more reliable internal messaging system, support services, and more. Finding the home exchange that fits each member’s aspirations becomes quick, easy and secure. Despite the growing impact of technology, people remain the heartbeat of HomeLink. With the new website, members discover more opportunities to share their interests, to find others with similar affinities, and to organize cultural and linguistic exchanges for their children. More than half a century later, with tens of thousands of active members, and 27 local representatives around the world, Homelink still remains a tight community, sharing common values of trust and respect. David Ostroff would have been proud.