Alt Hospitality Concept Deepens Cultural Experience via Host-Guest Interactions
Dublin-based Homestay.com is taking the alternative hospitality travel category to an exciting new level. More affordable than hotels, more adult than couch surfing and more personal than empty rentals, hosted home stays are an appealing alternative for travelers seeking a genuine experience. Now, those yearning to get off the beaten track can stay and engage with hosts in 50,000 homestay listings in over 150 countries.
“Our guests come from all demographics,” said Alan Clarke, CEO of Homestay.com. “Solo travelers, which account for 60 percent of our bookings, feel more confident in a homestay. Families love to stay with other families to save money and introduce their children to new cultures. In a city with big festivals and major events, it’s a great solution for a hotel room shortage. Couples traveling with other couples find homestays a congenial way to enjoy foreign destinations. Whoever they are, guests get insider intel about restaurants, transportation, attractions and shopping -- and lasting new friendships are always a possible perk.”
A Growing U.S. Trend
The shared accommodation concept is rapidly gaining traction in the U.S., with the sector tripling in just two years, from 3% in 2012 to 9% in 2014. In 2014, nearly one in 10 online travelers in the U.S. rented a shared space in a private room in an apartment or home. On the flip side, in 2015, the growth in host sign ups was 51% over 2014.
- Havana, Cuba, where there are very few hotels and demand is poker hot in the once forbidden country, leads the top 10 most popular cities for U.S. travelers. Tokyo is next, followed by London, Dublin, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Buenos Aires and San Jose, Costa Rica.
- The U.S. ranks third in the top 10 visiting nationalities, just behind the U.K. and France. The U.S. is followed by Germany, Italy, Australia, Spain, Canada, Ireland and China.
- The U.S. is the third most popular country booked by guests, behind the U.K. and Ireland. Cuba, Australia, Canada, Japan, Spain, New Zealand and Italy round out the top ten.
Working Like a Charm for Travelers
Homestay.com makes it easy for guests to find and match with the right hosts, desired destinations and dates by filtering search results by amenities, catering, pets and hobbies—anything from cooking and hiking to swimming and golf. To book, guests contact hosts via the messaging system, and when the host confirms availability, a 15% deposit is paid through Homestay.com. To get acquainted face-to-face before arrival, guests and hosts have the option to video call through the website. Hosts generally want to know the reason for traveling, guest’s age, interests and special requirements to prepare a proper welcome. Guests pay the balance to the host during the stay. A light breakfast is optionally included in the rate, and sometimes additional meals can be arranged.
### Who’s the Typical Homestay.com Traveler?
With a global average nightly rental rate of $46, homestays are definitely a money saver, but for Homestay.com guests it’s about more than money. Indeed, the typical Homestay.com guest is far from an impecunious student—even though the concept originated in the offline educational travel sector. The majority are 35 years old and up, 22% are 55 years and older and nearly half boast salaries approaching $80,000.
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