Published in News - June 4, 2021
Didn’t have the chance to catch Ayla, our Head of Product, speaking live on Facebook? No worries, read on to discover everything Ayla covered in the session! Just a few highlights include looking back on some of the measures we've taken to improve our members' experiences over the last few months, plus we're sharing a sneak peek into what’s coming up for the rest of this year...
You can watch it here:
Ayla shared where we’re at:
After a tough year in travel, the last few months have been really positive for Love Home Swap, and it’s fantastic to see new and existing members from many countries getting back to planning their travel adventures.
The amazing media coverage we’ve had has helped to spread the word about home swapping and the considerable benefits it has over traditional travel (including Conde Nast Traveller, The Times, The Guardian, Travel and Leisure, Parents and much more). That sentiment is starting to show in our numbers - which is great news for our lovely members, as they have access to even more great homes!
As such, the number of people trying Love Home Swap has almost doubled since January, bringing hundreds of new homes into the community each month.
The impact of the easing of many international lockdowns is showing, and May 2021 saw the most trips agreed since February 2020, for new swappers as well as our loyal members. Figures were up by 40% in April, while January (which is traditionally our busiest month) witnessed an incredible increase of 70%.
We’ve seen similar trends for new members joining our happy community, with month-on-month increases since December, and May heralding the arrival of our highest number of newbies for over a year. We’ve had a similarly great start to June, and it’s really exciting to see new home swappers exploring the site and arranging trips.
Then Ayla revealed what we’ve been up to:
We enhanced the user experience
Problem: At the beginning of the year we did some research and found that there was the opportunity to improve functionality and user experience on our search results. This was particularly true for members using mobile devices.
Result: We designed a series of changes to our search functions and validated these with some very helpful Love Home Swap members. With a new, cleaner look and better mobile functionality, the changes we made included:
- We introduced a carousel of images on the search page so that members can flick through the pictures of a home without clicking into the listing, meaning it's easier and quicker to decide whether that property is what you're looking for.
- We improved the format for property specifications making it easier to absorb the key information at a glance. We updated the layout and introduced the profile picture of the swapper and their response rate, their star rating, the number of beds and bathrooms, and the location of the home.
- We also tidied up the search navigation bar and the way we display our filters, making them easier to find and use, especially on mobile. If you haven’t played around with it yet, there are some very useful filters on there including filtering by swap type, home type and features, property size and whether it’s child or pet friendly. You can also choose to filter users who are looking to come where you are, so you're more likely to secure a match.
We created Discussion folders
Problem: User research showed that members were struggling with messy inboxes and potential swaps were getting lost.
Solution: We sprang into action and we introduced a new feature called 'Discussion folders' to solve this problem. We also made general navigation improvements to the inbox.
Users can now create their own folders where they can store the discussions they're having (or have had). These folders will make it much easier for members to keep on top of their messages. If, for example, a member is planning a trip to Paris, or receives an offer for a once-in-a-lifetime swap two years from now, or just wants to saves discussions with members who have unique homes, they can now create folders for each of these swap options - so their messages can be neatly organised!
The new functionality will allow users to:
o Create folders
o Add discussions to their folders
o Delete discussions from folders
o Rename/delete their folders
There are a host of other improvements to our Messaging option that we are currently working on, and this most recent change is a step in the right direction. We have already seen hundreds of folders being created by users, and we will continue to keep improving this feature.
We helped our members improve their response rates
The Product team monitors the success of features we have introduced, so that we can learn from them and keep improving. For example, since we released the 'Response rate' criteria, we have increased overall response rates by around 20%, and 'Top Responders' now make up 42% of users on the site! We will keep thinking of ways of encouraging members to reply to swap requests in good time, as we know it’s very important to our home swapping community.
We enhanced our community
Problem: We have so many amazing members on our platform, but we didn’t have a way to unify them all together. In the past we’ve attempted various ambassador schemes but felt we could do more to strengthen our community of home swappers.
Solution: We have created a newly-revamped Ambassador scheme, with a more robust structure in order to ensure its success. This allows members with a passion for home swapping to get involved with spreading the word and helping us promote the concept and our brand. If you’d like to find out more about joining the scheme, email firstname.lastname@example.org
So far, we have 62 Ambassadors on board and 22% have already been involved in media opportunities such as press articles and featuring on our blog. Interested in becoming a Love Home Swap ambassador? Get in touch with our team to apply.
Finally, Ayla shared an insight into what’s coming up:
We're continuing to make changes to improve home availability
Problem: We have found that our availability calendars don’t always work well for all types of swappers. This is particularly true for main homeowners, as it can be tricky knowing when your home will be available. And some members simply forget to keep their calendars up-to-date!
Solution: We're taking a two-pronged approach to this. The short-term approach saw us introduce nudges (such as pop-ups) to remind our members to update their calendars. This was helpful – we found that the number of calendars that were up-to-date (i.e. updated within the last 3 months) grew by 25% after we introduced these reminders.
But we also want to review how we bring swappers together on our platform, and try to understand opportunities for change and improvement. So we have been speaking to a number of helpful members about how they find swaps, what works well, what can be improved, any specific challenges they have, and so on. We've discovered that a change to how we enable swappers to find each other would bring the biggest opportunity for improvement, and we now know enough to test out some changes – so keep an eye on your account page for notifications asking for your feedback! You can expect some of the changes to come into effect later in the year.
We're improving our blog
Problem: From travel inspiration to home swapping hints, our team is always creating great content for both newbies and seasoned swappers. However, we think our blog could do a better job of showcasing this content, and making it easy for you to find whatever information or inspiration you're looking for.
Solution: We are working on a brand new blog to make it easier for our members to read our amazing content in a more user-friendly way. This will be optimised for mobile browsing, and it will be easier to find articles that interest you. It should be ready later this year!
We’d love to hear from you
We hope you have enjoyed hearing some of the behind-the-scenes work of our amazing Swapstar team. Stay tuned for more updates from us and if you have any questions, please do get in touch.