Based in Ireland, Homestay.com will enable its online audience to search for a room in the home of a local host, who helps to create a “local travel experience” by spending time with guests and sharing local knowledge.
“Having seen how technology revolutionised the hostel industry, I am excited to bring the same innovation to the homestay industry”
Backed by venture capital from Delta Partners, Homestay.com launched in beta form in July 2013 and has since registered over 15,000 hosts and booked more than 50,000 nights’ accommodation.
The business has active hosts in 30 countries, with new hosts in a further 10 countries in the pipeline.
There are plans to further internationalise the website, which is currently available in English and Spanish, by making it available in different languages.
The site has a similar format to co-founder Tom Kennedy’s previous business success, hostel bookings site Hostelworld.com, which sold for €500 million. In a previous interview with The PIE Review, Kennedy said, “I think the homestay market is bigger than the hostel market.”
Homestay.com operates a ‘Local Partners’ scheme whereby an independent partner visits and inspects a homestay location and verifies the host’s identity and profile. Homestays that have been inspected are tagged ‘visited & verified’.
The company suggests “Don’t Just Visit, Live It”
Partners also provide ongoing support to hosts, as well as advice on rates and promotion, and they can include homestay and student accommodation providers, language schools and internship organisers, study abroad and travel companies.
Co-founder, Debbie Flynn, has 30 years’ experience in the homestay industry, which she says has shown her how rewarding homestays and the long lasting friendships they can help to cultivate can be.
“Homestays are unique in providing an opportunity for people to embed themselves in a truly cultural host experience,” she said. “We look forward to opening this experience to a global audience.”
Kennedy added: “Having seen how technology revolutionised the hostel industry on a global basis, I am excited to be able to bring the same innovation to the global homestay industry”.