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3 Ways to Find a Student or Guest for Your Homestay

Filed under Advice for New Homestay Hosts. See all articles.

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Image credit: Parker Knight

You're looking to run your own homestay.

Perhaps you're a seasoned host with many years under your belt, or you may just be getting started and are exploring if this is right for you.

Although homestays have traditionally been associated with foreign exchange students, it's also common for couples, families, and professionals such as researchers, professors, or those on business travel to stay in homestays. We'll guide you through the various ways to find these guests.

How to find a guest for your home

We've compiled the three common ways you can find and welcome a student or guest into your homestay.

1. Work directly with a school or placement agency.

These organizations typically send foreign exchange students for periods of a few months and you can expect to receive teenagers or students in their early twenties. The organization will take payment from the student and subsequently pay you on the student's behalf. Schools and agencies prefer this arrangement because they typically take a recurring commission of 5-6% each month in addition to an initial placement fee of $150 or more paid by the student. If you've used an agency, you may have observed that they asked you not to discuss payments with your students–this is the reason why.

A school or agency offers the convenience of finding students for you and placing them in your home. However, the downside is that you will not be able to select who stays in your home and hosts have less flexibility to manage when students can move in and out. In addition, although rare, we've observed organizations go out of business, never paying the student's fees to the host. We suggest only working with agencies that pay at the beginning of each month to be safe.

2. List your home on a commission-based direct web site.

A commission-based web site provides a self-serve model in which you create a listing on the web site and respond to enquiries from potential guests. The web site typically takes a 12-15% booking fee for each guest you accept. For example, if you charge $800 for a one month stay, the web site might take a 15% booking fee of $120. Consequently, these sites tend to be better suited toward shorter stays of a few days or a week.

The benefit of this arrangement is that you can select who stays in your home, with the large commission taken by the web site being a rather noticeable drawback and also that your home may not receive much interest.

3. List your home on a flat-rate direct web site.

A flat-rate web site is another self-serve model, but the key difference is that you pay a flat fee for a subscription to use the site for a period of time and do not pay booking commissions. HomestayBay provides a flat-rate service and is generally very cost efficient to find a guest for your home. Like other self-serve models, you select who stays in your home. Additionally, a single booking will cost you less than either of the other methods. The downside is that like any self-serve model, interest in your home may be limited.

More about direct web sites

One might consider a direct web site as analagous to an online “direct” bank account with a low monthly fee or perhaps none at all, which contrasts with an agency that might be compared to a full-service bank account charging monthly fees but offering branches and the option to speak with someone in person.

As a host on HomestayBay, you will have access to our platform to communicate directly with our guests. You'll make arrangements directly with your guests and although we're always happy to provide advice and guidance, we are not involved with your arrangements.

About our hosts

We've observed that many of our hosts are drawn to us after working with schools or agencies for a period of time and becoming aware of their cost and inflexibility. Our hosts prefer our direct model because it provides a platform to communicate directly with guests, with the security of choosing their guests and flexibility of making hosting arrangements around vacations and other important life events.

If you're just getting started and have never hosted before, you are welcome to use our service. We suggest registering an account with us and taking a week or two to observe the guests who sign up on the system, paying particular attention to their schools or places of work. Note how convenient it is for guests to travel from your home to their daytime activities. You'll get a good idea of the desirability of your home for visitors and how much interest you might get when you start corresponding with our guests.

Ready to get started? Register to become a host now.

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