Homestay.com Host FAQs

What is Homestay.com & how does it work?

Homestay.com is a global accommodation booking website for people seeking a real and genuine travel experience. It allows someone to book a room in another person’s home.

What makes a homestay so unique is the people. Each homestay has a host there to welcome guests into their home and offer guidance and assistance during the stay. At the core of the homestay experience is a host being present to welcome the guest into their home. Our guests will meet the people from the community they’re visiting and enjoy a genuinely local experience.

  • Bookings made on Homestay.com can either be confirmed instantly online (if the host has live availability) or confirmed online after making a booking request to the host regarding their availability for specific dates.
  • A host lives in every homestay listed on Homestay.com – none of our homestays are vacant properties.

Some of our hosts choose to make their rooms available to book instantly on Homestay.com. The guest will choose a host that shows up as available on Homestay.com and will expect the booking to be confirmed instantly, it is not a request for a homestay - it’s an actual booking and will be honoured by the host. Other hosts choose to receive bookings on a request basis. The guest can message the host directly with a booking request for specific dates and once the host is available and accepts the booking request the guest can then proceed to make a confirmed online booking.

When a guest books a homestay, they get the chance to live like a local and experience what life is really like in that place. They can immerse themselves in the local customs and traditions, practice speaking a foreign language and spend time with the people that really make the place what it is. With their host’s local knowledge they’ll see beyond the usual tourist trail.

A homestay is an affordable accommodation alternative. It is ideal for the independent leisure traveller or tourist who wants to experience the local community and culture of the place they’re visiting, people who are on a short city break and want affordable accommodation, and others who are travelling to an event (eg. London Marathon or conference, concerts, etc.). Our hosts all have their own unique interests and hobbies and guest often find a host with similar interests which further complements the homestay experience.

Who are our hosts?

Hosts are what make a homestay experience so unique. They welcome guests into their home and offer guidance and help during their stay. With a host’s local knowledge, guests see beyond the usual tourist trail. Hosts can also help their guests find their feet in a new place, whether it’s help with local orientation or places to eat.

Some of our hosts are connected to a Local Partner. The Local Partner will have visited and verified the homestay and provide ongoing support to these hosts.

Other homestays are listed directly on Homestay.com with no Local Partner connection.

Our hosts vary and include young couples, retired couples, traditional families (mother-father-children), single parent families and hosts who live alone.

Our hosts all have their own unique interests and hobbies and guests often find a host with similar interests which further complements the homestay experience. Hosts can help their guests find their feet in a new place, whether it’s help with local orientation or places to eat. It’s also a convenient, value-for-money way to book accommodation when attending an event or conference.

Who are our guests?

Homestays are popular among independent adult leisure travellers, gap year travellers, university students, interns, volunteers and language students and our bookings so far support this. Homestays are a relatively new but growing concept for the independent leisure traveller and are ideal for tourists who want to experience the local community and culture of the place they’re visiting, people who are on a short city break and want affordable accommodation, and others who are travelling to an event (eg. London Marathon or conference, concerts, etc.). For leisure travellers, it opens up a world of local travel experiences, where they get to meet the people in the place they’re visiting. All our homestays have a host present.

Why should I become a host on Homestay.com?

Homestay.com is all about the host being present during the guest’s homestay experience. We believe our hosts can add huge value to the guest experience by offering their local insights, view point and knowledge to the leisure guest allowing them to experience the local community and culture of the place they’re visiting.

If you’ve got a spare room and would like to make some extra money, hosting guests in your home will enable you to meet new people from around the world and share in new experiences, interests, customs and stories. Hosts can accommodate leisure travellers/tourists looking for a genuine and real travel experience, students and people studying abroad, or on an internship in a local company. On Homestay.com you can market your homestay to a global audience. Visitors to the site can view profiles of hosts and their homes, see photos, browse destinations, read about the local area and compare prices.

Uniquely, Homestay.com hosts may also avail of additional bookings separate from Homestay.com as many of our Local Partners have additional and separate demand for hosts outside of Homestay.com. If this additional opportunity is available in your area, Homestay.com may connect you with a Local Partner but you will be required to meet the standards of approval as required by the individual Local Partner including but not limited to a homestay inspection.

We look forward to welcoming you into our community of trusted hosts.

Signup

How do I sign up as a host?

You simply register your details with us by clicking here to sign up as a host on Homestay.com, we will then invite you to complete your homestay profile with information about you and your home, together with some photos which potential guests can view on the site when choosing a homestay to book.

As a host you set and manage your own room rates. You can choose to either manage your own availability calendar and receive instant online bookings; or alternatively, you can choose to receive only request bookings. This means you will receive requests for specific dates from potential guests and you can confirm your availability prior to the guest making a booking online. You can view all your bookings from your own Homestaymanager account - the system where you manage your Homestay.com profile.

We will do the marketing of your homestay and optimise your profile page for search engine ranking.

Why not have a look at some existing profiles on Homestay.com to get a flavour for what hosts include in their profiles?

Can anyone signup as a host?

We welcome people from anywhere in the world to sign up as a host on Homestay.com.

However, you need to be of legal age within your country to host and if you are renting a property, we suggest you always check your rental/mortgage agreement and ensure you get your landlord’s permission if required.

You need to ensure your home insurance policy covers accommodating short-term guests within your home.

How much does it cost to signup to Homestay.com?

It’s completely free to signup as a host family on Homestay.com

What information will I need to provide when signing up?

Your homestay profile should show off you and your home at its best so that you’ll capture the interest of prospective guests.

With a good catch phrase (short statement to entice guests to read more about your homestay), descriptive introduction and great photos, you should have no problem encouraging guests to read your full profile and book a stay in your home!

You’ll need to provide a description about yourself and your home. These include your interests and hobbies, the number of bedrooms you have available to book, details on other occupants in your home, directions to your home, photos, house rules and other information as required. Guests love to read about a host’s interests and learn a little about the area they’ll be staying in and what to expect.

Before going live, you will also need to set up your bedroom rates and make sure your availability calendar is up-to-date.

All our hosts are encouraged to provide two forms of ID documentation (these are not displayed on the site);

  • Valid ID documentation: passport, nationality identity card or driver’s licence.
  • Proof of address: utility bill less than three month’s old which shows name and address.

Hosts connected with a Local Partner are required to upload this documentation or show it to the Local Partner during the homestay visit.

Hosts who are not connected to a Local Partner are not obliged to provide documentation but encouraged to upload documentation whilst completing their profile.

Documentation gives interested guests peace of mind and security when choosing to book and stay at your homestay so we encourage you to upload documentation whilst completing your profile.

Please note documentation is never published on Homestay.com. If you provide documentation, we will put a note on your profile indicating that you have submitted documentation and this note will be clearly visible on Homestay.com to all interested guests.

We currently store documents in Amazon S3. This storage complies with the safe harbour regulations. All documents are encrypted, and only accessible with private tokens dynamically generated.

What photos should I upload to my profile?

Host profiles with good photos are a lot more likely to receive bookings than profiles with poor quality photos that do little to show off you and your home. It’s very important that the photos you include in your profile show you and your home at its best. Include a friendly photo of yourself – don’t forget to smile! You may add as many photos as you wish but make sure to upload at least one photo of the exterior of your home and one of each of your guest bedrooms. The more photos you upload the better – a picture paints a thousand words….
Why not upload a picture of your garden, kitchen/dining area, your local park, your local high street or your local village fête or attractions? The more pictures the better as they will give potential guests a flavour of where you live and encourage them to book your homestay…

Do I have to set house rules?

Yes, we recommend that all homestays have house rules as it sets the accepted standard for your homestay. They don’t have to be rigid rules, they can be as simple as ‘No smoking allowed indoors’. What are some examples of house rules?

  • Smoking not allowed indoors.
  • Please keep our home secure and lock doors and windows when leaving the house.
  • Feel free to use the kitchen but please clean up after yourself.
  • No pets allowed inside.
  • Please do not bring strangers into our home. If you would like to invite a friend over, ask first.
  • Please respect our home but feel comfortable. Treat it as your own house for the duration of your stay.

How can I prepare myself as a host?

Complete the house rules section of your profile with care to ensure guests understand what to expect. If a guest makes contact with you via the guest-host messaging system, ensure you respond promptly and accurately. Get in touch with your guest(s) before they arrive and introduce yourself. Ask them to email you a photo and details of any other people (or pets if appropriate) in their booking party. Ask your guest(s) to advise you of their expected time of arrival. Make sure your guest(s) know how to get to your homestay. Check your emails regularly for booking notifications and reminders. Acknowledge receipt of all bookings in your Homestaymanager account.

How do you verify your hosts?

We verify all hosts email addresses and phone numbers during the signup process. All our hosts are encouraged to provide two forms of ID documentation (these are not displayed on the site);

  • Valid ID documentation: passport, nationality identity card or driver’s licence.
  • Proof of address: utility bill less than three month’s old which shows name and address.

Hosts connected with a Local Partner are required to upload this documentation or show it to the Local Partner during the homestay visit.

Hosts who are not connected to a Local Partner are not obliged to provide documentation but encouraged to upload documentation whilst completing their profile.

Documentation gives interested guests peace of mind and security when choosing to book and stay at your homestay so we encourage you to upload documentation whilst completing your profile.

Please note documentation is never published on Homestay.com. If you provide documentation, we will put a note on your profile indicating that you have submitted documentation and this note will be clearly visible on Homestay.com to all interested guests.

We currently store documents in Amazon S3. This storage complies with the safe harbour regulations. All documents are encrypted, and only accessible with private tokens dynamically generated.

Will my private details be secure?

All of the information and documentation submitted to Homestay.com by guests and hosts is securely stored and protected. Hosts who sign up to Homestay.com can rest assured that their private profile details are accessible only to them and their Local Partner and/or Homestay.com. No one will see their password-protected private profile information. Homestay.com will not provide this information to any other third party.

Who are our Local Partners?

Some but not all of our homestays are matched to Local Partners.

Homestay.com works with a number of independent local partners worldwide. Local Partners visit a host’s home to inspect and approve their homestay and give advice on how best to promote their homestay profile on Homestay.com. Once approved, the Local Partner continues to have a relationship with the host, giving them assurance of their support on the ground. They can help hosts with advice on how to create a profile, upload photos and set rates. They’re also there to help should guests need it when booking or arriving for their stay.

We choose our local partners carefully. They all have experience in dealing with leisure travellers, many of them have experience working with host families. Our partners include homestay providers, student accommodation providers, language schools, internship companies, study abroad companies and travel companies pursuing a new business opportunity.

Some of our Local Partners also have additional and separate demand for hosts outside of Homestay.com. Becoming a host on Homestay.com may give you an additional opportunity to connect with a Local Partner and avail of additional bookings. If this additional opportunity is available in your area, Homestay.com may connect you with a Local Partner but you will be required to meet the standards of approval as required by the individual Local Partner including but not limited to a homestay inspection.

Do I need to be matched to a Local Partner?

No it is not mandatory to be matched to a Local Partner.

Some of our hosts are matched to an independent Local Partner so that they can be visited and verified as part of an approval process but it is not necessary to be visited and verified to go live on Homestay.com.

A Local Partner provides support to hosts, helping with the set-up process and answering any questions hosts may have. Additionally, Local Partners typically offer hosts further opportunity to earn additional revenue through their own direct booking channels outside of the Homestay.com website.

If we don’t match you with a Local Partner, Homestay.com will approve you to go live on the site and may at a later stage match you with a Local Partner who would visit and verify your homestay. If you are not matched with a Local Partner, Homestay.com will provide direct support to you, helping you with the set-up process and answering any questions you may have.

Approval

Is there an approval process?

If you are matched to a Local Partner, you will go through an approval process that includes a homestay visit and inspection by our Local Partner.

If you are not matched to a Local Partner, Homestay.com will review your homestay listing and activate it to go live on Homestay.com.

Bookings

What is an ‘instant’ booking?

Some listings on Homestay.com show ‘real-time’ availability for hosts so bookings are made and confirmed instantly. They are not made by request. This is why if you choose this option when setting up your profile, it is so important to keep your availability calendar up-to-date. The system assumes you are 100% available unless you block out dates when you are unable to accommodate guests.

What is a ‘request’ booking?

Some listings on Homestay.com can only be booked on a request basis. If you select 'Request Bookings' when setting up your profile you will receive an email with the guest's request for specific dates and once you are available and accept the booking request, then the guest can go ahead and book your homestay. You will also receive an email confirmation once the guest has completed the booking process.

How much should I charge?

You set the room price you want to charge guests. If you are unsure about how much you should charge, we recommend that you have a look at comparative sites to see what other people charge or contact your Local Partner or Homestay.com for advice. The rate you upload for your Homestay.com listing is the PER ROOM PER NIGHT price - i.e. The price for the ENTIRE room (NOT the price per guest per night). Remember a light breakfast should be included in the price.

Please note we see demand for long-term bookings so we encourage you to set up seasonal rates and weekly & monthly promotional prices for guests who book for a week or a month.

How does the booking process work?

To secure a booking on Homestay.com, guests pay 15% of the total transaction amount as an online booking deposit directly to Homestay.com. You receive the outstanding amount directly from the guest either in advance or on arrival. For example, if your rate is €30 per room per night, you will get €25.50 per room per night. If you want to get €30 for the room per night, you need to set your room rate at €34.50 (to take into account the 15% share taken by Homestay.com as a booking deposit).

It is your responsibility to check that the price you’ve set is the correct per room per night rate. It is not the responsibility of Homestay.com or a Local Partner. If a guest books a room at the rate you’ve set, you must honour that price.

How will I get paid?

To secure a booking on Homestay.com, guests pay 15% of the total transaction amount as an online booking deposit directly to Homestay.com. You will receive the outstanding amount directly from the guest either in advance or on arrival.

Guests will pay you the outstanding amount either on arrival or in advance of their stay. You should include in your homestay profile how you would like to be paid, for instance by bank transfer, cash, PayPal or another payment method. We recommend that you communicate with your guests after the booking is made and prior to their arrival and confirm your preferred payment method with them.

Will I be notified of confirmed bookings?

Yes. You will receive an email and a SMS notification each time a new booking is made. You will also receive a reminder email three days before the guest(s) arrive (unless the booking is made within three days of arrival).

What do I do when I receive a new booking confirmation?

All bookings made on Homestay.com must be Acknowledged by you as soon as possible via email or SMS. Bookings are made on Homestay.com by the guest into real-time live availability, as per your availability calendar, you therefore must acknowledge receipt of the booking. In the event that you have a problem with honouring a booking, please contact your Homestay.com or your Local Partner immediately. You should not contact the guest directly.

Why do I need to Acknowledge my bookings?

When a guest books to stay in your home we will send you a SMS message and notification email with the booking details. You need to log into your Homestaymanager personal account and Acknowledge receipt of the booking so we know you have received and seen the notification or send a SMS message to Acknowledge the booking. If you do not Acknowledge receipt of the booking, this doesn’t mean the booking is cancelled. All bookings should be honoured by hosts except in exceptional circumstances and a host has no alternative but to cancel the booking. Make sure you keep your availability calendar up to date if you have chosen to receive Instant Bookings and check your email and phone regularly for booking notifications and reminders. If you have chosen to receive request bookings please also ensure you are available to accommodate your guest for the dates they have booked.

In the unlikely event that you have a problem with honouring a booking, please contact Homestay.com or your Local Partner immediately. You should not contact the guest directly.

How do I keep my availability calendar up-to-date?

If you have chosen Instant Bookings when setting up your profile, it is extremely important that you keep your availability calendar updated as instant bookings made through Homestay.com are instantly confirmed to the guest and and must be honoured for the dates, room type and room rate the guest has booked. If you do not keep your calendar up-to-date, guests may unknowingly book a room that is not actually available. Please check your availability calendar to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date. Make sure you block out any dates that you are away on holidays or unavailable to host guests. If you need any assistance or have any questions about Availability you can contact your Local Partner or Homestay.com.

If you have chosen Request Bookings when setting up your profile it is also important to keep your availability calendar up to date as this will increase your chances of being able to accept requests coming through from potential guests from Homestay.com.

Will I get a photo of the guest(s) before they arrive?

Once a booking is confirmed, you will receive details of the guest name(s), nationality, gender and age. You will also receive an email address and contact telephone number for the lead guest. Guests are not required to provide a photo at the time of booking but we encourage you to communicate with your guests on email prior to their arrival – you can ask them to send you one!

How can I get in touch with guests who have booked to stay in my home?

Once a guest has completed their booking, you will receive their email address and contact number. We encourage you to communicate with your guests on email prior to their arrival.

Can I cancel a booking?

All bookings on Homestay.com should be honoured by the host whether they are instant or request bookings. In the unlikely event that you have a problem with honouring a booking, please contact Homestay.com or your Local Partner immediately. You should not contact the guest directly.

Is there a minimum or maximum number of nights a guest can stay?

It’s up to you to decide if you want to set a minimum or maximum number of nights per stay.

Other

Do I have to provide a key for my guest(s)?

You need to be there to welcome your guest into your home and they will obviously need to gain access during their stay but it is at your own discretion as to whether you provide a key.

Do I need to stay in my house after the guest arrives?

You need to be at home to welcome your guests when they arrive and give them any reasonable assistance they might need. However, you don’t have to stay in after they’ve arrived and settled in. You will need to make sure your guests have a key to get in and out of the house if you are not around. Otherwise, you’ll need to be at home to let them in.

Do I need to serve breakfast to the guest(s) or can I leave it out for them?

You are required to provide a ‘light’ breakfast to your guests. We’d prefer if you are there each day for breakfast but if it is a long term stay, we understand that you may come to an arrangement with your guest(s) from time to time. By being there for your guest for breakfast, you are actively making the guest(s) welcome in your home and they can ask any questions they have about the locality. We believe paramount to the homestay experience is guest-host interaction where both parties can engage and trade cultural experiences and traditions.

Do guests expect to eat dinner with their host family?

If you are a host who is offering to provide meals as part of your homestay experience then the understanding is that your guests will share a meal with you. If, however, you do not provide meals (other than a light breakfast, which all hosts are expected to provide) then there is no obligation for the host family to share a meal with their guests. Please note that if you are arranging full or half board with your guests, this is not booked through Homestay.com. Instead you should arrange all details / payment for meals directly with your guest.

Is there a charge for self catering?

This is entirely up to you as a host and all arrangements/payments for self catering should be made directly with your guest. We suggest you organise this in advance of their arrival.

Can I write a review of my homestay experience?

We would love to hear your feedback on your homestay experience and see any photos! Unfortunately we don’t have a review system available just yet but we will do very soon! In the meantime, we’ll email you after the booking for your feedback. Alternatively, you can write a review and email it to us. We’ll keep it safe until it can be added to the site. Email: hostreview@homestay.com

Any other questions?

If you have a Local Partner, they will be available to assist you with the set-up process and answer any questions you may have. If you don’t have a Local Partner, please contact us at hosts@homestay.com and we will assist you in the set-up process and answer any queries you may have.

To find out more, watch this short video of one of our host families in Dublin talking about their experience and why they decided to sign up as a host family on Homestay.com

Homestay host video

We’re here to help!

If you have a question we haven’t answered, first check the other FAQs sections or get in touch at info@homestay.com.

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