Customer Reviews Exposed
The concept of cheap Travel Accommodation
The way we travel and choose our accommodation is changing rapidly. And no aspect of travel is changing more rapidly than where we stay while on the road.
It was not long ago that the only option you had was to stay at a hotel or motel. Hotels can be expensive.
While a motel is a cheaper option, they are often, shall we say, a less than ideal place to lay our heads for the night.
Well, those days are gone! The world of accommodation is opening more so than ever before. Now we have a vast array of options the world over and less expensive choices not heard of, even ten years ago.
Airbnb versus Homestay, Review at a Glance
Here are screenshots of Trustpilot’s Airbnb vs. Homestay customer reviews, taken in September of 2018:
Trustpilot’s Airbnb reviews:
Trustpilot’s Homestay reviews:
But, what happened to Airbnb, this accommodation name we have gotten so accustomed to favor?
A closer look at individual reviews appears to indicate a commonality in that travelers feel that Airbnb has simply gotten too big for their own self. Many customers say Homestay today is what Airbnb used to be!
In other words, as Airbnb has been expanding, it seems their customer service has not been keeping up with demand.
This in Airbnb’s favor of becoming a corporate giant where a customer goes from being a person with a name to a dollar number for corporate profit?
You’ve no doubt heard of Airbnb, but have you heard of Homestay.com?
If travelers want a more authentic experience – one different to staying at an impersonal and sterile hotel, they can opt to stay with a local host.
The host can offer anything from a simple couch in their living room, to a spare bedroom, to a separate residence altogether. Some of these separate residences can be quite impressive, and cost a fraction of what it would if you were to book through a normal vacation rental company.
Airbnb is a worldwide network of hosts who have opened up their homes and rental properties to both business and leisure travelers who need a safe and relaxing place to stay. Most often it is a less expensive option than a hotel room.
There is a wide array of accommodation options to book through Airbnb. Anywhere from a spare room in a host’s house, to a palatial estate can be booked.
Many Airbnb hosts are happy to interact with you (and some insist on it!) but Airbnb does not require this. In fact, most of my stays through this service have had little to no interaction with the host.
They will email you a code to get into the property and you are left to your own demise. Similar to a hotel in that respect. But you are still staying in someone’s home and that implies you should take care of your space just as if it were your own.
Airbnb used to be the only name in the game of alternative accommodation.
But no longer!
Homestay.com employs a similar business model, in that hosts offer very inexpensive accommodation in relation to a regular hotel room.
Screenshot from a Homestay.com rental in Havana Cuba:
(I chose this one as an example since Cuba is one of my favorite places I go and perfectly suited for a Homestay deal).
Homestay advantages over Airbnb:
According to internet reviews (and my own personal experience staying with both), Homestay has a personal caring customer touch, and a much friendlier experience to offer its customers.
Homestay keeps it simple: hosts offer mostly spare rooms and hosts are almost guaranteed to interact with their guests in some way. In fact, getting to know your host is the name of the game!
It’s part of the Homestay culture and it’s gaining fast in popularity as the new way to travel.
What’s more, when you book through Homestay, breakfast is usually included in every stay! That’s a huge plus for me, as it’s my favorite meal of the day, and another chance to interact with your host by sharing a meal with them.
With Homestay you will never be placed in a vacant home. Even though your host’s schedule may be different than yours. You will be staying with them and they should be available should you need them.
p.s. Both Airbnb and Homestay will strictly vet a potential host to make sure they are “legitimate,” and that they are offering a clean and safe place for travelers to stay.
When researching your host, you can read reviews of other guests on the site to get a general feel for the experience.
Many Homestay hosts are ready and willing to spend time with their guests, or to give advice on local attractions and specific directions to such as where to eat. Therefore contributing to the authentic customer experience.
This offers a unique service you cannot get from a hotel concierge. Also, staying in a hosts’ property gives one a certain degree of luxury and a personal space that hotels simply cannot provide.
The host-stay giant Airbnb has been adding other features, such as Airbnb Plus, which focuses on larger and more luxury-centered properties. They have also recently added Airbnb Experiences, Restaurants, Entertainment, etc.
This takes away a lot from just plain, good old-fashioned “ask your host for advice on what to do”.
But back to the subject of customer service. There is a growing disenchantment with Airbnb by both homeowners and guests alike. Airbnb has taken a bit of a hard stance when it comes to anything that might jeopardize their strict rules of conduct.
And rather than taking each occurrence on a case-by-case basis, they tend to throw the gauntlet without reviewing all of the facts.
This could get both travelers and hosts in hot water if rules aren’t strictly followed to the letter, and in extreme cases, banned from using the site altogether.
Which is why many people are looking elsewhere.
Homestay.com is immerging as a kinder, gentler alternative website. Because Homestay is younger and smaller, their customer service is more personal and therefore much more user-friendly.
Unlike Airbnb, Homestay trusts their hosts and travelers to communicate and make transactions between each other outside of the site.
Homestay does charge guests a 15% booking fee to use the site to connect with a host, however.
Airbnb, in comparison, dictate all communication and full payment within their site. Going outside Airbnb for any transaction is against Airbnb rules and is subject to penalty (or being banned from the site altogether!)
In many cases, Homestay is less expensive than Airbnb.
Homestay.com is a perfect alternative, especially for the solo traveler. It’s like the groovy, laid-back cousin, employing the motto “live and let live.”
Solo travel can get lonely, and staying with a host who will feed you breakfast and show you around an unfamiliar city can be invaluable!
As more people are traveling this way, Homestay will only continue to grow in popularity.
Will Homestay grow rapidly to surpass Airbnb? And if they do, will they too lose their personalized customer touch?
Only time will tell.
You can find the Homestay.com website here.
You can find the Airbnb.com website here.
The content of this blog is strictly independent information obtained by reference to what is posted at internet customer review sites and in other internet articles on Airbnb and Homestay. Some opinions expressed in this article are based on the author’s personal experiences and impressions of dealing with Airbnb and Homestay. The author is simply expressing his personal opinion of his own service experiences.