How Does the People Like Us Availability Calendar Work?

PLU introduces a new calendar, explicit availability and Last Minute searches

A new calendar for People Like Us

Why the change?

The People Like Us calendar has traditionally assumed that members' homes were more available for exchange than not. When setting up the calendar, members were required to enter unavailable dates, time when the home was not available, and the home was assumed to be available for all other dates.

This worked well for members with a lot of flexibility e.g. remote workers and retired people, but it didn't work so well for people who had greater constraints on when they could travel like those with school-aged children. Such members wanted to be able to list when they were available, not when they were unavailable

A survey was conducted in 2021 to determine how the PLU calendar should operate: should it stay as it was (an unavailability calendar) or change to an availability calendar. The results were about equal for each. This made it clear that we couldn't just change the system. If we changed to an availability calendar, it still wouldn't work for 50% of our members, just that it would be the other half! If we were going to make a change, we needed to allow both

That's what this change does: our members may now update their calendar with availability or unavailability, whichever makes most sense for them. Indeed, both can be used as well although care should be taken with this. More on that later.

Additionally, our members have long requested an ability to search for last minute exchanges. This couldn't work without some change as members constantly found that homes would appear as available in a search but that the member wasn't really availabile; they just hadn't updated their calendar. For last minute searches to work, we needed a system where members could explicitly make their homes available on specific dates and also for specific types of exchanges.

What's Explicit Availability?

In the past, the only option on the calendar was to state when a home was unavailable. This meant that there was assumed availability for the dates when a home was not marked as unavailable. 

The trouble is, not everyone updates their calendar constantly, so the assumption was often wrong. The lack of a calendar entry doesn't actually mean that someone's home is available. It just means that their calendar hasn't been updated.

Explicit Availability turns the calendar around. 

Instead of saying when your home isn't available, you explicitly state when it is.

But doesn't that suffer from the same issue as unavailability, just in reverse?

A little. If someone doesn't update their calendar, it won't make a lot of difference but it does give us a couple of distinct advantages:

  1. It allows someone to be explicit about when a home is available in a much more defined way. It is inherantly more precise to say that "my home is available from 1-14 January 2023" rather than a more vague "make me an offer any time in 2023 and I'll decide".
  2. It allows someone to to be explicit about the type of exchange that someone is looking for: not just that the home is available at a specific time but that the member is looking specifically for a simultaneous exchange at that time. We already have the ability to say that, generally, certain exchange types are accepted at your home but it's not feasible to attach those types to an unavailability calendar.

The big advantage of these changes is that it allows us to do "Last Minute" searches e.g. I'm looking for a stay for a Globe in the next month.

While we've had this as a travel style for years, we've seen time and again that it doesn't work unless people actively update their calendars. Our Facebook group is great but it's a poor substitute as, as soon as someone makes a post, it scrolls off and is gone from sight the following day.

There are 4 main changes in this update:

  1. The setup of Explicit Availability on your home profile calendar.
  2. Search for homes using Explicit Availability dates and exchange types.
  3. Last Minute searches.
  4. Display of the calendar on your home profile.

Let's go through each of those in some detail.

Setting up your calendar

How do I edit my calendar?

Go to My Home on the main menu (or My Homes if you have more than one and then edit the one you want to change).

Scroll down to the Calendar section and click Edit.

Available dates

The first thing you're going to do is set up when your home is available

Let's say you want to make your home available for a short break from the 21st to the 25th of February 2023.

Go to February 2023 and click on the 21st then the 25th with a second click.

You'll see the date range is marked and a popup appear allowing you to set the details.

Make your home available by clicking on the calendar

By default, all exchange types are selected. Unselect any that you don't want to accept for this period of availability.

You can also optionally add a description to provide more information about what you're looking for or why. 

Your home profile will now show these dates as available. As a popup, members will be able to see what type of exchange you're after and the description you entered.

Unavailable dates

If you are super flexible and you prefer to do as you've always done, you can just say when your home is not available rather than when it is. These are unavailable dates.

It works almost the same as for available dates, just that your dates will be when you can't exchange.

Let's say you're doing some renovations in April 2023 and so you can't exchange.

Click on the 1st of April and then on the 30th.

On the availability popup, click Make Unavailable.

Set unavailable dates by selecting a range and clicking Make Unavailable

All of the other settings, i.e. the exchange types and description will be ignored.

When your home profile is displayed, these dates will appear faded to indicate that you're not available for exchange.

How does this work for Last Minute exchanges?

PLU's are great planners but sometimes you might have some sudden availability and want to make your home available right away so that you can find an exchange.

That's where Last Minute exchanges come in.

"Last Minute" is defined as the next month.

If you have Available dates in the next month, your home will appear in the Last Minute search results. Your dates can start before the next month and/or extend beyond it. It will appear if there is at least one day of availability in the next month, of any exchange type.

Can I use both available and unavailable dates?

You can, but you probably shouldn't. 

If you are marking Available dates, all dates that are not marked as available are automatically unavailable. To mark some of these dates unavailable doesn't make them any less available but it introduces confusion as to what would be meant by dates that are neither available nor unavailable.

Can date ranges overlap?

No. It doesn't make sense to make a date both available and unavailable, nor to mark it available more than once.

Search

All availability searches are done on the main Homes screen. Next to the usual Favourites, Premium and Dates filters are two new ones: Last Minute and Availability.

Let's see how they work ...

Date searches

We've always had date searches but they've been modified to also now work with Available dates.

If you're looking for specific dates for exchange, click on the Dates button and you'll get a dropdown to enter start and end dates.

Date searches now work with Available dates

When you click Set Dates, homes that are available for all of those dates. This means:

  1. Homes that have been marked as Available for all those dates, and
  2. Homes that have not been marked as Unavailable, and
  3. Homes that do not have an exchange finalised during those dates

In short, the home must be available for exchange on those dates.

Date searches can be combined with any other filter. If you want to restrict the search to your favourites, or homes which don't have cats, or homes near a golf course, just click the Filters button and use any of our 150 filters to narrow your search.

Exchange Type searches

Sometimes you're looking for a particular type of exchange. Maybe you're looking for a simultaneous exchange, or you want to use your Globe or you really like hospitality exchanges. That's where the new exchange type searches come in.

To use them, click on the Availability button.

Use the new Exchange Type search to find
homes that are available for a specific
type of exchange

The Exchange Type filters search for explicit availability and so are most commonly combined either with a date search or a Last Minute search. 

Last Minute searches

Last Minute searches are used to find availability within the next month. Just click the button.

This will show you homes with any availability in the next month. Homes must be explicitly available, not just not unavailable.

How is a Last Minute search different from a regular date search?

Both searches are date searches but they work slightly differently.

With a regular date search, a home must be available for all of the dates.

With a Last Minute search, a home only needs to be available for some of the dates (any of the dates).

Both can be combined with Exchange Type filters and any of the other filters.

How are Exchange Type availability searches different from the Exchange Type searches we already have in the Filters?

On your home profile, it's always been possible to say that your home is generally available for specific exchange types. For example, you could say that you accept simultaneous and non-simultaneous exchanges but not non-reciprocal and hospitality exchanges.

With these new changes, it's now possible to add explicit availability while also specifying the type of exchange for a specific date range.

These new filters work with explicit availability. They don't have to be used with date or Last Minute filters but it makes more sense if they are.

Does Last Minute work with Unavailable dates?

No. Homes that do not use the new explicit availability will not appear in Last Minute searches.

The reason is that entry of Available dates is active whereas availability due to the lack of Unavailable dates is passive. If a home only uses Unavailable dates, we can't know whether a particular period is really available or whether it's just because a calendar is not actively maintained.

The use of Available dates and therefore Last Minute searches favours members who keep their calendars up-to-date. 

Calendar display on home profiles

Your home profile now has a beautiful new calendar display.

At a glance, it's easy to see on any profile:

  • Available dates marked in colour
  • Dates when a home is not available, faded out

Hover over the dates (or click them on a mobile date) and you can see the details: the Exchange Types offered and any description that was provided. 

All dates that are not available are automatically made unavailable.

Availability with multiple exchange types is shown in green. Periods of availability for individual exchange types will be shown in a different colour:

Use these sparingly. It may look pretty but it may become confusing if lots of different colours are displayed.

Why can't I see exchanges on the calendar?

While you can see exchanges on your own calendar when you're setting Availability, others can't distinguish between dates that are unavailable because you've made them unavailable (or not made them available) and dates that are unavailable because you have a finalised exchange. It isn't relevant to other members and may raise privacy issues.

Can I see exchanges on my own calendar?

Only when editing the calendar. To avoid confusion, you see your own profile exactly as others see it.

What happens if both Available and Unavailable dates are used?

Avoid using both Available and Unavailable dates. While the calendar will show them correctly, it creates confusion as to what is mean by dates that are neither available nor unavailable.

Premium Founder Admin

Drew

Founder & CEO of People Like Us
Member Since March 2018
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