Friday, January 19, 2018
Time to embrace the homestay revolution

Time to embrace the homestay revolution

Organising a holiday has never been easier. You can book everything online in minutes, search for the best deals and personalise almost every aspect of your trip. But for many years some thing have always been the same: hotels are expensive, impersonal and often very inflexible. Today a revolution is sweeping the world, a holiday home revolution, encouraging us to ditch the hotels and find the perfect rental property in the perfect location for a far more affordable price.

Time was when the only people staying in the homes of strangers were the young and cash-strapped, “couch-surfing” or “backpacking”, willing to crash in dodgy bedsits to save money.  These days are long gone and holiday rental is now big business.

Airbnb was founded in 2008 and was one of the first websites to allow home-owners to advertise their property for people to rent out for holiday stays. People offer whole houses, flats or rooms to holiday-makers, who have the opportunity to see photos of the property, read information about it and ask detailed questions about conveniences, rules and the local area.

Many who are new to this phenomenon often worry about the safety of booking using these websites, they worry about the reliability of the hosts and the property, and they worry about the place not meeting their expectations of comfort and convenience.

My message to you is do not be afraid. The personal nature of websites such as Airbnb means that you can interact closely with the owner of the property before you book, both the renter and the owner have to create a detailed online profile which are verified by the website itself. In addition for most of the properties you can read detailed reviews from other renters – Airbnb actively encourages honest reviews of the property and the host as this feeds the trust in the site.

In addition, these websites will save you money. On average a room in a hotel would cost you far more to book, would include additional fees and provide fewer conveniences. Depending on location, you can often book a whole flat with a kitchen and garden space for the price of a cramped hotel room. Airbnb also has a well-organised payment system, where the host does not receive your payment until your stay has begun successfully, protecting both the renter and the host.

Most importantly, the range of properties available on this site is far broader and more interesting. You can find a truly unique house for you family holiday, making the trip far more memorable. Hosts can often improve your stay even further, providing lifts, directions, maps, advice and event cooked meals in some circumstances!

Other websites include One Fine Stay, which operates only in some cities and offers more upmarket properties, Kid & Coe, which specialises in holiday homes for children, Homestay and House Trip.

Of course, any service where you are booking and parting with money has its share of problems. Anybody can be unlucky and have a bad experience. The important thing to remember when using any service like this is to be aware of what your’e doing, think carefully about your options and do not settle for something you’re not entirely comfortable. The websites offer many opportunities to put your mind at rest, so take them – ask detailed questions, research the area, look at the photographs and get to know the host. You’ll soon feel comfortable taking advantage of these fantastic deals.

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