Homestay business is building up its reputation rapidly in the travel industry since the past few years. This is most likely due to the rise in demand of travellers seeking for a more homey and cozy accommodation or in short, a “home away from home” when they are travelling.
Starting a homestay business can be easy when you have vacant rooms or houses. However, maintaining the business can be a challenging commitment. Homestay owners are constantly worried about filling up their vacancies and therefore, we have come up with some tips to help you homestay owners to fill up your homestays and perhaps increase your sales.
1. Creating a theme or style
First off, many homestay owners deem this unnecessary but in fact, by putting in some effort into applying and beautifying your homestay according to a certain theme, this could be a game changer.
Examples of themed homestays:
Homestay make-over can be an interesting process especially when you have a theme in mind. This tip is highly recommended for homestay owners who are running the business in the outskirt of town or far away from the tourist attractions. What do you have to do? You turn your homestay into a tourist attraction.
Get help from a professional interior consultant if you need to get the ideas running!
2. Cleanliness and Maintenance
This is probably the most basic tip but do not be surprised when some owners fail to understand this and take it into consideration. We have had numbers of homestay owners who wouldn’t loaf on this and are willing to take excellent efforts in maintaining the condition of their homestays.
Mow that lawn, clean that carpet, repair the leaking pipes and do just anything that could make the condition of your homestay look as if you first bought it. This could reduce the probability of guests complaining about that faulty air-con too and travellers would love to return to a well-maintained homestay. Always.
3. Providing necessary amenities
These days, we can easily find homestays living up to the level of hotels and sometimes, even better. We have come to realise that many homestays are beginning to provide basic amenities such as bath towel, shampoo, body gel etc. Such detailed and thoughtful preparation would somehow make a difference in your sales where besides comparing rates, the next thing a traveller do is comparing the amenities offered by the homestays before making their choices.
Don’t stop reading as we are about to reveal some tips on the top amenities every traveller is looking for. Those are the plus points if your homestay has them.
First in our list we have Wifi connection. This is undoubtedly the top amenity every traveller is looking for at this booming age of digital media. Invest in a decent Internet connection and start seeing your sales rolling in. Other amenities worth considering and investing are bbq equipment, iron board, hairdryer, cooking facilities and of course, air-con in every room.
4. Having good photos of your homestay
Having good photos of your homestay is the biggest asset to a successful homestay business. Good photos help in making a great first impression to the travellers when they make their booking. If you have not had your homestay photos taken professionally, you should start thinking about hiring a professional to do it. Any decent photographers will do in this case as you just need a set of high quality and good photographs of your homestay for all your marketing purposes. If you think you are quite a decent photographer, you may even do it yourself!
If you are unsure of the photos you should be preparing, here’s a quick tip:
- 2 photos of the exterior of your homestay
- 1 photo of the living room
- 1 photo of the kitchen
- 1 photo of each room
- 1 photo of each bathroom
- Bonus: 2-3 photos of the common area, garden, parking space, swimming pool
5. Getting on social media
The rising age of technology makes it easier for us to promote our business online and the easiest and cheapest way is to tackle down the social media aspect. Creating a page or account for your homestay is easy and what’s more important is that you can create as many pages (if you own multiple homestays) as you need for free. You are basically building a platform for all your future online marketing plans at zero cost. Nonetheless, we suggest not more than an account or page for the same homestay to avoid confusion.
Furthermore, it’s easier to get in touch with potential guests via social media especially when the platform offers messaging feature because once again, exchanging messages on social media is usually free. Not forget, sharing and posting images of your homestay are free too.
6. Accepting online bookings
Now that we have the access to the Internet and social media, many homestays’ owners are beginning to accept online bookings manually via social media and messaging app. However, it could be stressful to process bookings during the peak season and public holidays when you do it manually.
Here comes the rescue of booking platforms provided by online travel agencies (OTA). OTAs help homestay owners fill up their vacancies by listing the homestays on their website and at the same time, process any bookings that went through their online booking system. Listing on OTAs enable homestay owners to get more exposure and reach out to travellers easier but simultaneously, your homestay will be more prone to competition as you will be listed together with other homestays.
Read also: What Are The Criteria of Good Booking Engine
Usually, OTAs take a cut or a certain amount of commission from each successful booking made so make sure you choose the right online booking platform for your homestay. Also, find out how to get a free online booking engine.
7. Offering loyalty or referral program
Some travellers tend to return to the same location for leisure or business travels so this is your chance to make them stay at your homestay over and over again. One of the ways is to offer them hard-to-resist reward which would not make them hesitate to stay in your homestay again during their next visit in town.
Here are some tips for a loyalty program worth offering:
- Offer discount for their next stay. The more they stay, the more discount they are entitled to.
- Free one night stay for guests who have returned more than a certain time.
- Free door gift or rebate for returning customers
While we are at it, referral program can be a good idea too as it helps promoting your homestay to more travellers. More travellers = more sales.
Do you find these tips helpful? Try them out and let us know. If you love them, don’t forget to share this post with your friends and if you have more and want to share it with your fellow homestay owners, feel free to leave us a comment below!