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Disclaimer : This is based my personal experience. Any attempt to exploits this article is illegal. Thanks
Between August 2022 and June 2023, I ran a homestay business. I was managing this business on my own, handling all maintenance, cleaning, check-in, customer service, and marketing duties. At first, it was difficult, but finally, with plenty of trial and error, I was able to get the hang of it.
However, since my one-year lease on the residence is up, I decided to stop the business. I guess it’s time to say goodbye to the world of homestay hospitality. Here’s to hoping that my next venture is a little less stressful!
Let me tell you some background stories.
I was probably between 27 and 28 years old at the time, a mediocre office worker. I had been working steadily for four years at that point. In my second year of employment, I experienced modest financial growth as a result of the healthcare sector’s rise in 2020 (due to COVID-19). But in 2022, when COVID-19 starts to stabilize, I expect that my cost of living will increase while my salary stays the same, so I decided to gain some business experience.
strike-through the last sentence of the previous paragraph. Yeah, I think it’s best if I don’t come off too strong – I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging!
I made the choice to reward myself with the greatest lifestyle I could afford in 2022, while I was still enjoying the money I had achieved in my second year of employment. I chose to buy a studio flat rental contract for a year for myself. I was resolved to make the most of my newfound financial freedom after a few years of surviving off savings in each of my first nine “lifetimes”. In the middle of the city, I looked for a luxurious rental that was also reasonably priced. I was ready to live a comfortable and convenient life.
But I have a backup plan in case I can’t continue to afford it. In order to further reduce costs, I decided to only occupy it during the workweek and let it out as a guesthouse on the weekends.
Hence, I’m not genuinely managing the homestay since I want to make money. I do it as a side business to cut the rent on the house I’m renting. Of course, I always behave legally and with authorization. Remember the first rule for people who want to walk in my shoes: “Get your landlord’s permission.”
During that time, you could say that I alternated between playing “Lady of the Manor” and “Lady of the Cleaning Supplies” during the week. That’s a pretty exciting lifestyle! I mean, one day you’re a lady of leisure, sipping tea and enjoying the finer things in life, and the next you’re a lady of dusters and mops, scrubbing away to make sure your guests have a clean and comfortable stay.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I even play the part of “Lady of the Landlord,” evicting myself and collecting rent from myself. My mother even calls me a “Lady of Weekend Refugee” whenever I spend the weekend going back to my hometown with all my personal belongings. Talk about living the dream!
As my 12th escapade has now officially ended, I have stopped all role-playing and gone back to my typical office-woman lifestyle. In spite of this, allow me to share with you a bit of “know-how” and insights that you won’t find in the general guide to homestays in light of this misadventure. If you are concerned that I lack the credentials to speak on this subject, allow me to brag that I have been serving and cleaning for more than thirty clients. I guess you could say I’m an expert in being a house-elf .. for at least 30 guests.
Two main point of attraction: Location vs Decoration.
If you operate in a truly strategic location, you will get a booking no matter what. Homestays, hotels, and other hospitality businesses should weigh the pros and cons of various factors when deciding on an ideal location.
Decoration and design can be used to attract customers, but the location is essential for drawing in a consistent stream of revenue.
A strategic location should not only provide the physical access and convenience that customers need but also the assurance that it is a safe and secure place to stay.
Additionally, a strategic location can also bring in customers due to its proximity to popular attractions and landmarks, as well as its availability of transportation options.
The guest always has the upper hand.
Well, I suppose that the servitude instinct is what drove the development of all booking apps. Only the guest has the authority to cancel; the host has no such power.
It’s a fantastic guarantee for the client, but it can occasionally cause problems for the host in the event of multiple bookings and emergency cases where they cannot serve the customer. This is why I sometimes call this app a butler in the digital age. Always hospitable and ready to serve, just like in the Victorian era. Except that you can’t fired it when it cause trouble.
Living close to your business premises will be very advantageous for you.
It’s the perfect way to stay close to your work and keep an eye on your business. For a Bed and Breakfast business, for example, you must always maintain hygiene and cleanliness.
Doing it yourself is the most economical option, and checking the cleanliness yourself will offer you the peace of mind that it is being done correctly. Additionally, you can ensure the quality of the services provided to your guests.
Lastly, you can inspect the property to identify any potential issues that need to be addressed.
The primary aspects of a guest’s review are the host’s cleanliness and friendliness.
Hosts should also pay attention to detail and respond promptly to questions and requests from guests. Providing a high-quality experience is key in making a lasting impression and receiving positive reviews. Hosts should also take the time to make sure the property is spotless and well-maintained, and that the basics such as bedding, towels, and other amenities, are provided.
Hosts also need to be polite when handling unexpected requests from customers, for example, late check-outs and additional requests for items that are not available during their stays.
Always remember to include all the basic fees when you estimate the income projection.
If you are new to this business and enter it without any experience, you may be shocked by the amount of fees that are removed from your earnings and the amount of work required to turn a profit. But don’t worry, it’s just business, not brain surgery. (With brain surgery, there’s a much higher chance of you dying!)
On average, I spent about 15% to 20% of my earnings to pay the digital butler. So, if you’re smarter than me, just put in some effort and employ free marketing tools such as Facebook and Tik Tok.
Clearly communicates all the directions and house rules.
Create a comprehensive list of house rules and instructions on operating amenities like air conditioning and security systems. Display these rules visibly throughout the property to reduce the need for guests to contact you with queries. This will help ensure a smoother and more pleasant stay for both you and your guests.
By incorporating these additional tips, you can differentiate your homestay, improve guest satisfaction, and boost your bookings. Running a homestay is a continuous learning experience, so always be open to feedback and stay adaptable to meet the evolving needs of your guests.
Starting this business is honestly, rather simple. You can do it too, provided you have a decent rental property. In this digital age, dealing with customers was not difficult because you could simply text them about everything and make sure that your residence was accessible or that the key was left in the proper location for check-in and check-out. Occasionally, you’ll even get a customer that’s so impressed with your hospitality that they’ll offer to clean the place for you—now that’s what I call a five-star experience!
Below, I’ll also list a few of the hosting apps I employ to obtain customers and provide a brief review.
Pulse apps for Booking.com customers (Host and Guest connected through separate apps)
The commission was a tad expensive compared to other apps, but it secured my business the most. The apps, however, were a little challenging to set up for first-time users because they had to log in via the Extranet and go through several verification steps. Most first-time host users will experience an overbooking or double-booking problem with these apps. And since you are unable to cancel it yourself, I advise you to write a message asking the customer to cancel their reservation in the event that you are unable to do so. You will be paid at least a week after the customer checks out or on the following Thursday.
Agoda (Host mode)
This app’s commission was less expensive than Booking.com’s, and the user interface was very simple. But, when I tried to set up their payment process, I encountered a lot of red tape. Some internet forms demand too much information and follow specific guidelines before being submitted. You might not be able to set up the payment system on your first attempt. In contrast to other apps, their final setup requires you to go through a verification step. Only 30 days from the date of checkout will you receive payment from your first visitor. Some customers’ ability to make appointments without providing a phone number is another problem. This can be troublesome since it might be challenging to get in with customers in the event that there are problems with their reservation and it is difficult to confirm their identification. This is because, despite the fact that this app also has a messaging platform, some users may not be aware of the message, leaving the host with no choice except to reach them by phone.
Airbnb (Host mode)
This software, in my opinion, produces the fewest hassles for the host while not bringing in the most clients. They charge a lower commission than the first two applications. The setup of the apps and payment system was also simple. With the exception of customer traffic, I generally appreciate this app.
Therefore, be cautious and take security precautions if you rent your own home. Some security measures to consider include installing a security system, making sure all locks are secure, and adding outdoor lighting. Additionally, if you are able to, you can opt for a rental that includes additional security features such as monitored access, cameras, or even an on-site security guard.
In conclusion, running a homestay can be a lucrative business. However, it is important to remember that safety and security must be top priorities when running it. Doing research on the area, local regulations, and tenant screening are all essential steps to ensuring that your homestay is running smoothly and safely. Having a clear set of rules and expectations can also help ensure that all parties involved are aware of what is expected of them. Finally, it is important to stay on top of maintenance and repairs to ensure the property is safe and up-to-date.
Till next time,
With curtsies and bows,
This maid will take off
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