The following article was developed in 2003 to commemorate HomeLink International’s Golden Anniversary.
HomeLink International History: 1953 - 2003
"Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come."
(Paraphrased from Victor Hugo)
Picture this: A young high-school teacher tapping away at a typewriter in his New York City apartment, compiling a list of fellow teachers who had expressed interest in exchanging their homes during the coming summer vacation. Copies of this list would be mailed to all the participants, who would then contact each other to arrange home exchanges in New York and adjoining states. Word spread quickly amongst the educators, and soon the lists became booklets that gained more and more weight every spring.
David Ostroff was the teacher, and 1953 the year he put his concept into practice. Like many people, he had already enjoyed exchanging his home with colleagues and relatives during various vacation periods. He was aware that home-exchanging had been a long-practised social activity, quite popular even in the middle ages.
In 1960, David formalised his enterprise, establishing Vacation Exchange Club Inc., which by then had extended its domain to include members, primarily teachers, throughout North America, Europe and United Kingdom. Unaware of David's service, a young lady named Jan Ryder was now offering a similar one in the UK, primarily to members in the armed forces (her husband was an RAF officer). Within a short time their paths crossed and they elected to collaborate by pooling their resources to lay the foundation for the world-renowned international organisation that we know today as HomeLink International.
The '60s and '70s saw their formal network grow with official representatives in other countries setting up offices to promote the service and provide registration facilities worldwide. Directory Group Association was the adopted name, in reference to the directories now published, replacing the modest little booklets of earlier years. By 1980, the group had expanded further with offices in the following countries: Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United States.
In the next decade, DGA welcomed newcomers, as well as replacements, for some of the originals. Representatives emerged in Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and Yugoslavia. Recently, new offices have opened in Estonia, Russia and Turkey, with arrangements underway to add Nepal and Slovenia. To reflect this astounding expansion, and a truly International network, the name of the group was changed in the late 90s to HomeLink International, the name already held by our UK office.
The 1990s also saw the growth in popularity of the worldwide-web and advanced Internet access and with that perhaps the most dramatic stage of our evolution in terms of format and technology. Listings can now be posted online with photos in full colour, members have plenty of handy tools for quick searching and correspondence, and the quality of the directories is vastly improved with colour photos and modern typography. Now, it seems that there is no limit to the exciting features that can be added to increase our members' enjoyment and facilitate home-exchanging everywhere.
Yes, times have changed - from typewriters to computers, black and white books to quality full colour publications and from snail mail to email. What changes will the next 50 years bring? New ideas, new technology no doubt, but one thing we will strive to retain: HomeLink International - "Number 1 in the field of Home Exchange."
Our Annual General Meeting in May 2003 in Copenhagen featured a milestone celebration as we marked the Golden Jubilee of HomeLink International.
Footnote: Sadly David Ostroff died in February 2000 without witnessing fully the blossoming of the seed he had sown so long ago. This short history of HomeLink is a tribute to the wonderful foundation he laid. David's loving wife, Mary, remains in Rio Rancho, New Mexico USA, and Jan Ryder resides in Sun City, Arizona USA
HOMELINK INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATES
Registered in Brussels
The pleasures of exchanging are unique, and we now see the HomeLink concept growing faster than ever. You may have heard Radio 4’s 'You And Yours' programme recently recommending HomeLink’s popular and inexpensive way of seeing the world in comfort. Three separate BBC 2 Travel Shows featured HomeLink members enjoying exchanges in Australia, California and Paris. The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Good Housekeeping, Good Homes and many others have also praised HomeLink’s service.
A detailed Consumers' Association Which? report on our service showed that 99% of those surveyed were so delighted that they planned to exchange homes for all future holidays. A new book 'Home Exchange Vacationing' the only independent source-book covering all the home exchange organisations, recommends "first and foremost, HomeLink, the worldwide exchange club rated as Number 1 in the field."
Established in 1953, HomeLink International is oldest and largest home exchange organisation in the world. It now has 26 offices worldwide, staffed by experienced home exchangers and meeting the home exchange needs of over13,000 listed members in 51 countries.
The idea is that you swap your home with another HomeLink member for the duration of your holiday. You stay in their home while they stay in yours. You don't pay rent and neither does the other person. It's a free exchange, and we call it a HomeLink holiday.
Exchanging gives you a holiday base with all the comforts, space and privacy of home, and a far better holiday.
Take a few days in Amsterdam, two weeks in California, or a tour of Australia. Exchangers are most interested in the location. As one journal said about exchanging cottages and mansions, "size doesn't matter, so long as the place is right"
HomeLink is unique amongst home exchange organisations in producing the international directories in full colour, including photographs. It is also unique in providing facilities on the website for members to edit their listings at anytime. Add paragraphs of text, format and set colours for headings; almost anything you would like to do can be done.
New home exchange movie 'The Holiday' starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and Eli Wallach
We're eagerly looking forward to the Christmas holidays and this wonderful new movie which opens in Australia on Boxing Day. Home exchange is all about having an extraordinary experience - a theme that 'The Holiday' captures beautifully.
While HomeLink may have been around for 53 years, the growing popularity of home exchange holidays is really beginning to catch on - as you can see, now even Hollywood is taking notice!