Homestays are undoubtedly one of the most rewarding businesses at present. If you are or become a homestay host you not only earn handsomely but also learn about different cultures, interact with people from different walks of life, and make connections that last a lifetime.
But you cannot enjoy these perks fully unless you are a super host; simply put, a host that guests love.
The secret to becoming a great homestay host lies in the experience that you offer to your guests. And in this article, I will help you with a complete guide that covers all the stages of running a perfect homestay business.
From preparing your home to being friendly and hospitable, I have got you all covered.
Let’s get started!
The Current Scenario of Homestays
Homestay isn’t a new concept; it has been around for a long time. In the past, only young and experienced travelers were choosing homestays over hotels or other accommodation businesses.
However, the scenes are completely different. There has been a surge in the popularity of homestays, as more and more people are looking for personal, authentic, and first-hand cultural experiences.
Companies like MakeMyTrip have been betting big on homestays for a long time. It even has a feature ‘be a host’ that allows first-time homestay owners to open their doors to travelers.
According to a 2021 report, MakeMyTrip believed homestays to be one of the silver linings of the pandemic. Its homestay leisure category has gone through the roof, recovering at 150%.
Homestays are indisputable means to cater to the growing demands of travelers. It wouldn’t be wrong if I say that a huge number of property owners today want to become homestay hosts, instead of running any other hospitality business.
This is why, despite being in a nascent stage, these properties are gaining extreme momentum across the globe.
Not to mention, the experiences that these accommodations offer are on a whole different level — it’s a home away from home that is nicely tucked into the greens, high up in the hills, or by a lake.
How to Become a Homestay Super Host?
No doubt, homestays are a prominent source of a lucrative revenue for property owners. But is it that easy? Can every property owner become a great host?
There are several such questions that arise when you venture into the alternate accommodation segment.
I have come up with a complete guide that will help you understand this segment, attract more guests to your property, and become a super host.
1. The homestay
The first and foremost thing to focus on is the overall look of your property. And when I say that, I mean the overall feel of the homestay. It has to be welcoming to the guests.
Here are two main things to work on:
If you’re a first-time homestay owner, designing can be intimidating. But don’t worry, with a simple, guest-centric thought process, you can bring out the artist in you.
Platforms like Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration when you go about redesigning the rooms. List out all the elements you want in the property and go on to add them.
#ProTip: Minimalistic and aesthetic are trending. Travelers love abodes with such themes. So, try something around these concepts. Not to mention, they won’t even go heavy on your wallet.
1.2 Essential amenities
Amenities are the soul of a homestay. Guests don’t want a generic stay; they want a comfortable one. And, you can offer them that by adding the basic and essential amenities to your homestay.
Here’s a list of all the essential and must-offer amenities:
- Good quality toiletries
- Linens for each guest bed (including spares)
- One towel per guest (including spares)
- One pillow and cover per guest (including spares)
- Blankets, comforters, or duvets per guest
- Wi-Fi connection
- Induction or gas stove
- One or two pairs of slippers
- Air conditioner or cooler for summers
- A work or study table
- Mineral water
- Washing machine and dryer
- Iron and board
- Proper parking space
Note: The above-mentioned list is considered basic for a decent homestay. However, it completely depends on you whether you want to include all or be a little finicky with the amenities.
#ProTip: Always keep a small pantry that is decently stocked with snacks. It makes a huge difference to the overall guest experience.
Doesn’t matter how beautiful, comfortable, and convenient your abode is, if it is hard to find online then you’re not going to make a good sale.
This is why it is important to bet on certain strategies and make your property easy to find for travelers.
Here’s what you need to focus on:
- Listing a homestay on Google My Business (GMB) is important if you want to be discovered online. And guess what? Setting up a GMB profile is easier than baking a cake.
We have a detailed blog on setting up and optimizing your GMB listing. Though the blog is for hotels, the fundamentals remain the same for homestays as well. Do give it a read.
- List your property on all the relevant online travel agencies (OTAs). Airbnb, MakeMyTrip, Agoda, and Booking.com are some of the most popular platforms.
- Get your property on every relevant social media. When I say that, I just don’t mean setting up profiles and then letting it be. Make sure that you share valuable content on social media and engage with your audience. This one simple thing will take your homestay to places.
Word to the wise: When you’re aiming to become a super host, discoverability shouldn’t only be focused on acquiring bookings. Whatever you claim or preach on your online profiles and listings, make sure the same resonates in your property. If you can consistently do that, you’ll certainly be considered a guest-centric homestay host.
3. Booking experience
Even though homestays don’t match the facilities of a hotel, you cannot compromise on the booking experience.
People want everything at their fingertips and if you can allow your guests to book your abode right from their smartphone sans hotch-potch, you’re one step closer to becoming a great host.
But how exactly do you do that?
- The very first thing to consider here is the booking process. People don’t have time to fill up lengthy forms and then face an error while making the payment. Make the booking process as simple as possible. If required, you can even allow your guests to pay at the property.
- Next up, turn to OTAs. Listing your homestay on OTAs is non-negotiable. They not just give you mileage, but also make the booking process really simple.
- You can also allow your guests to book your property right from your Facebook page or WhatsApp Business account. They can check out your property, book it, and even make payments.
- If you have a website for your homestay business, you can also set up a booking engine.
- Traditional methods like phone calls should also work. However, you need to ensure that you’re available all the time to respond to potential guests.
4. Guest and booking management
The way a homestay host manages bookings speaks a lot about him/her. A great homestay host ensures that there are no discrepancies in guest management.
How do they do that? With the help of a robust property management system.
A homestay property management system is the epicenter of every operation at the property.
With the right PMS, you can automate all the operations of any type and size of a homestay. The system streamlines online distribution, reservation management, housekeeping, guest, engagement, and many other routine operations.
Not just that, with a PMS in place, you can also integrate various other technologies like a booking engine.
Meaning, whenever you receive a reservation through OTA, Facebook, or your website, you don’t have to update the inventory manually. The booking engine does it automatically in real-time.
If you haven’t thought about deploying a property management system yet, then you must consider incorporating one ASAP.
It makes running accommodation businesses much simpler.
Communication has been overlooked for a long time in the alternate accommodation segment. But not anymore.
The way homestay owners communicate with their guests matters a lot.
Now, phone calls are mainstream. Your guests will always call you if they need some assistance.
But how about enhancing that experience with WhatsApp?
The impact of WhatsApp Business across the accommodation industry is massive. This communication tool today is much more than just text messaging.
With WhatsApp Business, you can not only stay in touch with your guests but also allow them to avail of services right from their smartphones.
For example, if a guest has forgotten the Wi-Fi password, s/he can text you. The chatbot (integrated with WhatsApp) would ask a few questions to verify the guest and provide the Wi-Fi password. Another example would be the availing of rental cycles. The guest can access the catalog on WhatsApp, pick the cycle they want, make the payment, and voila.
If you incorporate WhatsApp in your homestay and leverage its capabilities the right way, there’s no doubt you’re a super host, mi amigo!
6. The stay and post-stay experience
So far we have covered almost all the areas of becoming a super homestay host. Now, we are going to talk about the most prominent element.
The road to becoming a super homestay host doesn’t only include operational methodologies and technology, there’s one more thing involved — Empathy.
When people come and stay at your property, you have to treat them like actual guests. There are times when you might have to go out of your protocols to fulfill your guests’ requests.
Simply put, walk every required mile to ensure your guests have an amazing stay at your abode.
I remember having a conversation with Rajat, a friend of mine and a homestay owner. He was telling me how he help his homestay guests.
Here’s what Rajat said:
Satisfaction is in the emotional connection guests have with your homestay. This is why I always design services in a way that shows guests I understand and care about their needs. For example, if guests are coming from a different state or nation, I meet them at the airport, help carry their luggage, and escort them to the property by my car. I make sure they feel treated and welcome from the minute they arrive.
These kinds of gestures from homestay owners make a huge difference even in the post-stay experience. The feeling of satisfaction that stays with guests even after checking out is definitely worth all the effort.
Homestay hosting is a great accommodation business model that drives significant revenue. However, with time, the concept of homestay has shifted towards a more humane element.
People don’t just want a comfortable stay, they also want a have a human-to-human connection. And property owners who manage to deliver all of it without any compromise are the ones whom we call great or super hosts.
I have tried to lay down a clear and concise path to becoming a super homestay host. I hope you’ll spend your time thinking and acting over the phases I mentioned above.
Hospitality is much more than a business sector today. If you do it with empathy, there will definitely be a lot of success.