Most of us had a travel bucket list at the start of this calendar year and suddenly we find ourselves confined to the four walls of our homes. The Covid-19 crisis has been a black swan event for the travel and tourism industry. World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates a loss of 50 to 75 million jobs because of the Pandemic. Tourism is also a major contributor to the economy in rural places. The profound impact of COVID has definitely raised a lot of challenges on the best possible approach, once the pandemic is over.
The psychological impact of the Pandemic is going to last for some time. People will prefer traveling to much safer environments. The newfound respect towards the environment is another positive outcome of the chaos. An ambiance that resembles the safety and confidence of our own house will be the preferred choice. Nature-based travel will be the first choice of travel for most of us when this is over. The desirable and convincing option that bridges the gap of travel desire and safety are the rural homestays. The accommodation is provided by a family in their own house. The host family is equally concerned about their safety and hence they would take all the necessary precautions. Despite the rural tourism market showing promising signs of recovery, there is still a strong need, especially for the homestay owners, to evolve their SOPs to attract future travelers who would now like to visit destinations that are much safer, cleaner & trustworthy. In this blog, we share some thoughts and insights on how homestay businesses can deal with future challenges.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Safety and health are high will be highly valued by customers following the outbreak. Homestays are normally well cleaned and ventilated as it is also a home for a family that stays there.
Going forward, homestays would need to advertise their cleaning process to reassure future customers. The homestays can also provide a “reassurance card” that records the cleaning times and the health status of the previous guests that stayed in the room. It is important that homestay owners convey the information about the housekeeping standards and practices family follows to ensure the guests would be coming to germ-free accommodation.
Rural Homestays are known for their clean air and open spaces. The homely feeling and social interaction with the hosts is a unique advantage of the homestays as compared to hotels. Additionally, the hotels are mainly closed for air conditioning and sometimes lack proper ventilation. Considering the fact that footfall in the homestays is generally small, social distancing won’t be a major problem.
However, the homestay owners may have to increase the layout of the public areas and also allow limited access to some of their homestay space to the public.
Curating Offbeat Experiences
For safety reasons, Travelers will be cautious about taking long-distance trips at least in the short term. In addition, cross-province and cross-border tourism will be encouraged for the time being. As a result, short-distance trips shall become the main option for leisure travel.
The homestay owners may look to organize guided tours to help guests experience the local scenery and culture. In addition, some travelers may prefer to visit a niche destination to stay away from crowds.
Homestay businesses may provide these unique offbeat experiences as part of their offerings to promote their properties.
Leverage Organic Food
Homestays in the rural areas are perfect destinations to experience the warm hospitality coupled with exotic cuisines that one can hardly find in a city restaurant. One aspect of these delicacies is that all the ingredients are locally grown and are fresh for consumption. Homestays owners have a perfect opportunity to promote their organic lifestyles as one of the most healthy and nutritious ways of living, promoting travelers to experience it through their homestays.
Long Term Rental
Homestay businesses should diversify their offerings to create more traction for their properties. The coronavirus pandemic has made the world adopt healthy lifestyles promoting the need for longer travel to the destinations.
Promoting long-term rentals by homestays might be a good diversification option. Travelers would love to occupy accommodations for a longer period of time and experience lesser areas for a greater duration of time. This also helps the homestay owners as it decreases vulnerability through multiple guests’ interaction.
Invest in Health Check Systems
Going forward, prevention measures would be necessary for the survival and development of lodging services, especially homestay businesses. Home operators should invest in systems that help in providing real-time data on the travelers’ health to ensure not only the safety of fellow travelers but also of the accommodation owners. This would help homestay owners to withstand risks and uncertainties.
During these unpredictable times, homestay businesses should design consumer-centered products and services, leverage digital marketing channels, seek diversification to develop the market, and create processes that build trust among the travelers that homestays destinations are the safest visit once the world opens up again.