During many nights spent in different types of homestays across the Himalayas, I observed a number of issues worth sharing with you. Reflect on these issues and resolve them if they plague your homestays. A quality check and required improvements in rooms and related services will help in maximizing the occupancy rate and the revenue irrespective of the size of homestay.
Here is a short list of practical tips to resolve the common problems observed:
Tip 1: Supervise Housekeeping staff
Why should a guest supervise housekeeping staff (e.g. sweeper, bed maker…)?
An owner or a manager of the homestay should supervise and ensure that the housekeeping staff perform its duties- cleaning and arranging room. Each homestay must provide housekeeping services daily or at least on alternate days.
Tip 2: Keep Room Ready before Arrival of Guest
The room should be ready when a guest arrives. Especially, if the guest booked the room well in advance, the homestay owner should ensure that the guest need not await or switch between rooms. Making room on the arrival of guests is unprofessional.
- Always make room at least 30 minutes before the arrival of the guest.
Tip 3: Clean Washroom in Correct Healthy Way
Observation 1: Sweepers follow an unhygienic practice. They use the same brush to clean the bowl (crap area) and the toilet seat.
- Use separate brushes for cleaning the two parts of the toilet.
Observation 2: Some homestays provide modern handheld bidet sprayers but they are installed on the wrong side (left side) and their hoses are too short and difficult to cross from the left to right side. Please remember, majority of Indian population is right-handed.
- Install the sprayer on the right side.
- If toilet has the sprayer, it is fine. Otherwise, give separate clean mugs for toilet and bathing. If the sprayer is missing, a water tap shall be installed next to the toilet.
Observation 3: The sweeper just pours water and removes water with the wiper. No effort is made to clean the hairs, muck, soap, and other bathroom waste. Actually, waste is just pushed in the drain, blocking the drain.
- Clean the washroom floor with some kind of soap or detergent.
- Do not push the waste in the drain.
Observation 4: Many homestays offer dark window-less washrooms.
- Every washroom shall feature a proper ventilation system to throw away foul smell from the toilets.
- You can install an exhaust fan or build proper ventilators.
Tip 4: Keep Your Kids away from Guests
Some of you may find this suggestion rude. But, I have a rational behind it. Innocent kids cannot distinguish between good and bad. When they ask for mobiles to play games, chocolates, and play around with things of guests, some guests may take advantage of innocent kids. Even if all guests are reliable, asking for petty things from strangers is not a good habit to inculcate in young generation.
- Your kids should never barge into the guestrooms. It should be a rule.
Tip 5: Things to Do If Labor is Unavailable
A number of homestay owners face labor shortage. This is common in remote non touristy corners of the Himalayas. Another reason for the “shortage” is not earning enough to pay decent wages to the labor. This is especially true in case of small homestays.
In such situations, your only option is doing everything, including administrative tasks, cleaning washrooms and bedrooms, and maintenance, on your own.
- Share homestay tasks among family members and be committed. Define roles, including select a supervisor among the members. Run it professionally to maximize the profits.
- Do not expect guests to do cleaning and maintenance jobs or to stay in dirty or shabby rooms.
- Collect garbage from the guestrooms daily.
- Learn basics of carpentry, electricity, and plumbing to resolve simple issues like broken and non-functional bolts and latches, lazy tap valves, choked drains, and faulty geyser connections. For example, operating a washbasin tap from the main valve under the basin every time is very inconvenient. Learn how to fix the taps.
If you and your family do not want to labor, do not run the homestay.
Tip 6: Never Compromise Privacy and Safety of Guests
A number of homestays have glass windows in bedrooms and washrooms. Glass makes the rooms sunny and bright and window makes it airy. This is very good. However, the glass compromises with privacy and safety of guests.
- Do ensure glass is not broken.
- Hang clean opaque curtains on glass windows even if glass is of dark color.
Tip 7: Be Formal and Polite
- Do not ridicule your guests.
- Do not call a guest “auntie, bahanji (sister), or uncle.” These words have connotations of old, unattractive, and useless that many guests find offensive.
These words are used for friends and family members. Paying guests are not your relatives.
- Do not call a girl or lady “sir, sahab, or sahib.” Both the words are used to address a boy or man.
- Do not assume titles of guests. Ask the guests politely if it is required.
- The best and the simplest way to address a guest is call her/him madam or sir respectively.