Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Making your homestay comfortable for the Great Big Indian Family

london_india_2004_b_day_040Image by saketvora via FlickrHi Everyone and apologies for the long absence. I have been working on multiple things. Unfortunately, cannot announce anything at the moment but hope to have some news to share soon.

I've been increasingly noticing an interesting trend among the inquiries we have been seeing through our system. We're seeing entire families travel. By this I don't mean husband, wife and their children. I mean THE BIG Indian Family. Think 2 brothers and their families, parents, cousins etc. Typically the groups are at the minimum 4-5 adults and 4-5 children. I've been trying to think of some ways in which our homestay owners can make their places comfortable for such travelers and here are some of my tips:-

1. The journey starts right from the time you get the enquiry. Remember, they are most probably traveling in one car or else two cars which are fully packed. As such it will be very nice if you can give them precise directions on how to get to your property - what time they should start, the specific restaurants and restroom stops they can take and the prominent landmarks in town they need to have saved so they know that they are not lost.

2. Ensure that there is someone to recv. them and to provide them with a nice breakfast/ lunch / dinner as soon as they arrive. Remember, the elders and women of the family would be very tired managing children after a long journey and so you should budget for this within the amount you are charging them. This small gesture will go a long way in making sure they have a good first impression.

3. Keep all telephone numbers handily available. Ensure that this includes numbers of a pharmacy, Doctor, hospital as well as someplace that will deliver food at short notice.

4. Families love Villas that have a full time caretaker living in the villa or just outside in an outhouse. The women are already very tired and may not be used to cleaning a large home and so having someone to clean / tidy up is really helpful.

5. Keep enough sources of entertainment available - e.g. playing cards, board games, carroms table are all really good options. A good collection of bollywood music (remember to throw in some old classic songs) and a music system is also a good idea.

6. If you have had kids, remember to collect all the toys they have outgrown and you can keep them in your homestay. A child can never tell if a toy is spoilt and having the kids occupied with a new set of toys will endear you to their parents.

7. Keep extra mattresses and linen in your villa. I cannot stress how often we see villa owners turning away groups because they are too big. It is common for Indian families to sleep on the floor or to share beds when they are visiting relatives. If you are flexible on this count, you should be able to easily target this audience. Also remember that many a time, families will travel with a cook/ driver and the extra mattress may be needed for them.

8. Child-proof the house. This is really important. Try and remove all big and dangerous stones from the lawn, put cushioning on dangerously low ceilings or doors and ensure that the bathroom floors are not slippery.

9. Make it clear on your profile that you are happy to accommodate such groups and your place is a friendly place ideal for families.

10. If you serve food, keep a few items on the menu that will be a surefire hit with the children. Things that come to mind are pastas, noodles and decorative cupcakes.

Happy Homestaying!!
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