Thursday, April 8, 2010

Top 10 Tips for HomeStay Owners

Living Room on the BackwatersImage by Arun Katiyar via Flickr
Hi Everyone,

I've been getting a lot of requests from all owners, for my own tips on how they can better their services. I thought I would collate my top 10 tips which I personally feel could make a big difference to the customer experience:

1. Ensure that the bedsheets, quilts and towels are extra-clean. I would recommend using pure white for this and providing a daily change and fresh towels. I cannot emphasize how important this is and how far this will go in conveying a good impression to customers.

2. Provide good toiletries. If possible, provide self-branded soaps and shampoos to guests. These are nowadays quite easily available from bulk suppliers who will provide you a large number of bottles at a reasonable cost. Expect that these will get taken by your guests as mementos. This has now become standard traveler behavior in India so you might as well get used to it and try and get some branding out of it.

3. Focus on cleanliness and removing clutter. This is super important. Ensure that the guest rooms are extra clean and free from any smells, dust or stains. Ensure that the bathrooms have no used toiletries lying around or old toothbrushes etc. Similarly, the cupboards are blank and have none of your personal effects in them.

4. Provide adequate cutlery in the room. This is especially important if you are providing a kitchen facility. Ensure that there are adequate vessels, plates, serving dishes, side plates, glasses, spoons, forks and knives.

5. If you are providing a living room, ensure that the living room furniture is comfortable. Cane furniture and bean bags are not comfortable and though you may feel they go with the decor of your farm house, they will not be seen in that light by your guests.

6. Preserve your kids' toys and stock them in your homestay. This is very important, so that guests who bring kids, can keep them amused. It helps if toys are not badly damaged, but advertise whatever you have. It will definitely attract guests.

7. Try and keep religious photos, artifacts etc. to the bare minimum and not too in-your-face. You want to be welcoming to guests of all faiths.

8. Provide a written welcome book with a message from yourself, welcoming the guest to your property, giving a few useful numbers, mentioning places he/she must see, things you would recommend they do, etc. Ensure mobile numbers of your caretaker or yourself are prominently placed and you are available if and when they reach you.

9. Try and encourage guests to try and become part of the history of the house. Some good ideas I have seen, include having a India map where guests can mark where they are from, letting them plant things in the garden or make a donation to your library with a personal message. Good ideas can also be woven around local attractions e.g. gifting a small Taj Mahal replica if you are located in Agra which can be put in a display room. Guests should be able to visit your property again and see what they have left behind.

10. Be precise with the directions you enter on homestaysdos.com - We have a special section for this. Make sure you use it well. The guest's journey begins with finding your place. If that is difficult, he will start his holiday with a bad taste in his mouth. In directions, if you feel guests will be arriving from the airport, mention exactly what they should tell the taxi or rickshaw driver and exactly what the fare should be. Similarly when providing driving directions, be extra precise and give directions that tell the traveler when he has taken the wrong turn so he can make a U-turn.

That takes care of my top 10 tips - Now, I'm waiting to hear from you about yours! Please share your learnings and experience with the entire community.

1 comment:

  1. Got these nice comments from Revathi - an owner in Coorg which I felt were worth sharing. I esp. agree with the one about Food. Having great food and paying a lot of attention to it is a surefire way to ensure people keep coming back to your homestay. Thanks Revathi!!

    Here are some of her tips:-

    1. The concept of Homestay needs to be understood properly. Its a facility wherein the owners stay in the complex and share their facility with the guests. This is very important. I have seen few homestays where the owners are elsewhere and house is under the charge of a caretaker. Now whether the caretaker takes care of the property properly is another story all together.

    2.Taking small steps towards sustainable tourism is very important. You can guide the homestay owner on how they can pitch in and save natural resources like water etc.

    3.Importance to food and the presentation of food is also very important. Like it or not, people on holidays love to eat... and love to eat well.
    Good food and simple, elegant ways of food presentation is very important.

    ReplyDelete