Being a host is an excellent opportunity to share your home and culture with others. It can be a rewarding experience for both you and the guest. You get to meet people from different regions and walks of life and the guest gets a unique cultural experience.
Below are the guidelines that will help you manage your homestay efficiently and run it successfully.
Be very careful choosing the Online Travel Agency (OTA) for listing your homestay. A few points to consider while deciding are:
1. Whether the platform lists only homestays or all kinds of accommodations?
This is important because the kind of guests you get will depend on this. Always go for platforms that are exclusive for homestays. This will help you filter the type of guests you get. Most of the time the guests you get from homestay specific platforms will be homestay literate. This means they know they are going to stay in someone’s house and they will respect the decorum of the house.
2. Payment terms – The questions you must ask are:
– What commission do they charge from you for every booking?
– How much do they charge from the guests?
– Any other hidden charges or taxes that are deducted from your payout?
There might be some platforms that charge less commission from you but charge a lot from the guest. That might make your homestay look more expensive than it actually is. So do not fall in that trap. You may have to pay a little more commission on some platforms but that goes well in the longer run.
3. When and how will the payments be settled?
It’s important to know the payment settlement schedule. The best payout schedule is the settlement right after the guest checks in.
4. What are the exit rules?
You should have the flexibility to exit from the contract if you are not satisfied due to any reason.
A few online platforms that you can consider to list your homestay with are – AirBnb, Homestays of India, VRBO, Flipkey, Trip Advisor
Be very clear, detailed and transparent when you give details of your homestay to the guest. whether it’s over a call, on your website or any other online platform. It’s always good to be clear rather than the guest coming with wrong expectations and then complaining. Some points that you must mention clearly are:
1. Whether the homestay is drivable or the guest has to walk or hike to reach.
2. If there are attached bathrooms or not.
3. Specify clearly on your web page the kind of food that you serve. For example, if you have:
– A menu card to choose meals or follow the ‘menu of the day’ system.
– The option for both veg and non veg meals.
– If vegetables come from your farm
4. What facilities do you have?
5. Do mention if you provide AC and a room heater.
6. Write clearly if you have any house rules. Eg: no late night parties, smoking not allowed in rooms, house entry gate closes after 11pm etc.
The moment you get a booking from any channel, make a courtesy call to the guest, and confirm his booking. It’s always helpful to find out a little more about the guest before they arrive. Like where they are coming from, who all are coming, what type of group is that? (Family, friends, colleagues), their age groups, food preferences etc.
Guide the guest on how to reach the homestay and arrange the cab if required. Also check his approximate time of his arrival.
Welcoming your guests with a warm cheerful greeting can make them feel appreciated. From local drink to thoughtful notes to freshly baked treats, here’s how you can be prepared for your guests and make them feel at home:
1. Be prepared for the check in. Make a checklist and personally make sure that rooms are in perfect order.
– Fresh linen is there
– Toilet is clean
– Old toiletries are replaced with new
– All towels are changed
– No personal things are lying around in rooms
– It’s a good feeling to have a mild fragrance in the rooms. So light an incense stick or spray room freshener in the rooms. Fragrance also has a good recall factor.
2. Be available to greet him with a warm smile. He must feel welcomed and at home. Greet them pleasantly the way you would greet your own home guests. Guests like to come back to those who make them feel welcomed and happy.
3. Offer them local drink and snacks. Since your guests have come after a long journey, do offer them water, tea/ coffee along with biscuits or light local snacks.
4. Later in the day give the guests a quick tour of your home, garden, farms etc. and show him around to make him feel at home.
One of the best ways to help your guests get settled is to introduce them to the area and guide them on local cafes, transportation facilities, things to do etc…
1. Guide them on the activities that can be done nearby.
2. Give them information on local transportation, where to get cabs, if they can rent bikes/ cycles nearby etc.
3. Always be updated on the festivals and events happening in your area and do inform your guests of the same.
4. Give them the information on local products, handicrafts etc. and genuinely guide them on where to buy the local souvenirs at best rates and quality.
There’s no doubt that good food can win over the heart of your guests. But some gestures around it will surely make them feel special and come back to your homestay.
1. Call the guest in advance to know his food preferences, check if they are vegetarians or non- vegetarians. Also check if they have any food allergies. And be prepared accordingly.
2. Write ‘today’s Menu’ on a board in the common/ dining area. Or discuss the menu of the next meal in the previous meal and get guest’s approval.
3. Also check the time they would like to have the meals or inform them in case you have fixed meal time. Check what time they would want their bed tea, in case you offer that.
4. Do check with them if food was as per their palate on spices, salt etc. and if they need any changes.
5. Always check if they need tea whenever they come from outside. It’s a very simple gesture but makes a huge impact.
6. it’s a good practice to keep the water filter in the common room and keep it always filled.
Always remember complaints are an opportunity to understand from the customer about the scope of improvement in your service. Always be sympathetic and positive about the situation in order not to lose a customer. Offer options and work with the customer to find a solution to the problem. Follow these steps:
1. Listen to the guest patiently without losing temper even if he is being unrealistic.
2. Apologize for the inconvenience caused.
3. Find a possible solution.
4. Always follow through. Check back with him if he is satisfied with the change.
Treat the guests like they are special and give the little extra help that may be needed.
While all of the above points will help you be a better host, the most important thing is to be yourself and enjoy the hosting experience.
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