This week Susan Goldstein Industry Consultant for Homestay.com, talks about the growth of the homestay industry, the surge in demand for online bookings and the challenges this creates in terms of regulation and standards.


“Homestays are at the centre of radical and rapid change in the education travel accommodation industry as the trend towards a ‘share economy’ grows at an unprecedented rate.

A growing number of companies are tapping into the trend toward shared use of resources, prompting more and more homeowners to look for alternative income streams in light of the difficult economic climate in recent years.

Never before has the demand for booking host families online been so high, as this accommodation sector moves into mainstream travel. There are over half a million searches for the word ‘homestay’ done online each month and this number is growing steadily as the trend towards booking all travel online gains traction among students and the wider population. The homestay accommodation sector needs to embrace this change.

Homeowners around the world are renting out their spare rooms via a myriad of online companies. Once the exclusive domain of youth and student travel, homestays are in demand among leisure travellers seeking authentic travel experiences. 

This changing landscape has opened host families up to a larger market for their homestay accommodation. It also opens up a whole new market for homestay providers, language schools, universities and internship companies, as it offers the opportunity to generate year-round revenue from their existing network of homestay accommodation and grow that network further to tap into this flourishing online booking sector.

The problem with many of the new online companies jumping into the homestay sector is the lack of proper regulation in terms of quality and standards.  Educational travel has a long history of providing homestays as both an accommodation option and a cultural immersion vehicle, creating a strong network of providers and coordinators who already recruit, vet and manage host families.  This network and the best practices they have developed over time are at the core of assuring schools and providers an integral future role.  

A new company in the homestay accommodation sector, Homestay.com, is now working in partnership with the education travel industry and has developed a transparent, high-quality booking system that enhances and builds on existing industry relationships and standards.

Homestay.com, works with many of the long-established homestay industry accommodation providers, including Britannia Student Services and Twin UK, whose industry partner relationships powered by this pioneering technology can offer host families and guests booking homestay accommodation much-needed assurance and confidence, while at the same time providing a role for the industry providers in this fast-changing, technology-driven landscape. 

The technology allows providers to safeguard their homestays to service their core industry business, and at the same time offers an additional distribution channel through Homestay.com, for host families to take year-round bookings, and gives providers an ancillary revenue stream from additional bookings made on Homestay.com.

Developed for the language and education travel sector by industry professionals, Debbie Flynn, Director and Founder of Irish Education Partners, and Tom Kennedy, co-founder of Hostelworld.com, Homestay.com connects all the key learning industry players including partners, host families, local organisers, agents and guests. It facilitates bookings in real time from partners and agents into fully inspected and approved host families.

Flynn has more than 35 years hands-on knowledge and experience of the needs of international students, programme providers and host families while Kennedy brings the global technology and marketing background that he so successfully leveraged to co-found Hostelworld.com and turn it into the largest online booking platform for hostels that it is today.  

Homestay.com is already working with education travel partners in multiple destinations around the globe and has more than 10,000 host families participating, its growth driven by the ground-breaking technology and industry partnerships the company has developed. Homestay providers can now maximise their revenue opportunities with year-round bookings from both the traditional education travel market and the burgeoning new leisure market, catering to tourists seeking a more authentic travel experience. 

Chris Gould, Head of the charity Child Safe, said systems such as this will begin to professionalise what has been a very successful cottage industry. ‘Currently, standards of hosting vary considerably from country to country and even within individual countries,’ said Gould.

‘It’s going to make people prouder of what they’re delivering. It may also make for a more authentic experience, as there is no greater language and cultural immersion than to stay with a homestay family,’ he added.”

Print This Page Close Window Archive