Whether you are new to hosting overseas students or whether you are seasoned veteran, this post is designed to give you a steer on how to increase your year round bookings as host family with us.
When are the busy periods for homestay?
Homestay by nature is seasonal so there will always be peaks and troughs. The peak months of the year are June to October. January is a busy month too, especially with Brazilian students. However, we place students all year round.
So, how do we decide where to place our students?
We have a large database of homestays. The overriding factor that determines who we place the most with is not, at first, hand obvious. It is not necessarily the homestays with the swankiest accommodation or the ones that are in very central London as most people tend to think. Sure, location and proximity to central London is very important for many homestay students but this alone will not necessarily guarantee bookings.
By far and above the most important factor that determines how many student placements you will receive is the relationship that you build with our team.
We predominantly work with language schools, universities and international “study abroad agents”. These are our clients and they partner with us to provide them with a reliable and efficient homestay (host family) matching and booking service.
For overseas students, their experience of their accommodation is just as important as their experience in the school where they study. A great study experience is no good if it is let down by the experience of the accommodation.
Crucial for us to be able to provide a top notch service to our clients are our relationship with our host families.
How can I build a better relationship with you?
Here are some ideas to help you do this:
Get to know our placements team
We have a team of Accommodation Officers who effectively match student homestay requests with host families. This team get to know our hosts, their homes and what type of students they like in order to be able to make the right student to host match. It is probably unlikely that you will meet our office based team as we cover a very wide catchment area. So, if you are new to our register then maybe call in post registration and introduce yourself to the placements team. Tell them a little bit about you and your home so that they can start to build up a picture. Most communication we have with you will be over the phone. So, an introductory call from you can help kick start the relationship.
Timely responses to contact
Homestay hosts who come back quickly to our attempts to contact them will earn themselves a reputation for being reliable. Often the team are under pressure to make a placement. This pressure usually comes from our school or agent clients. Sometimes, students have visa deadlines and need a confirmed accommodation in order to apply for a visa. In summer for example, the sheer volume of students coming to London can be pressure in itself.
If you receive a call or email from us, then please do reply. Even if it is to say that you cannot accept the student on this occasion. This is much better than no reply at all or a reply 3 or 4 days after the initial contact. If this becomes a pattern and you just do reply, then the team will eventually give up and prioritise hosts who do come back.
Please, please, please try not to cancel!
When we run a potential student booking past you, we will always give you the information needed to decide if the student is right for you. You will be told the dates, nationality, age, meal plan, rate of pay and any other special requirements. If you are not sure, just tell us that and come back to us as soon as you can.
This approach is preferable to where hosts accept students and then cancel later. Cancellations by host family can be very problematic for us, our educational clients and of course our students. This is especially the case where the cancellation occurs very last minute (e.g week before the confirmed arrival date). Cancellations can lead to issues with the students visa (where required) and can sometimes even compromise whether a student will be able to come to the UK.
Of course, we appreciate that family emergencies do occur but when these become overly regular, this is where our team start to perceive a host as not so reliable and contact them less as a result.
Update us on your homestay availability
A great way to keep in touch is to let us know when you are free or not free to accept students. Hosts who proactively contact us, every couple of weeks or so, will be at the forefront of our minds when student come in and need placement.
A quick email or call will do the trick!
If you do email us, please bear in mind that our system works BY ROOM on dates that you are NOT available.
To sum up
We like to look at our relationship with our hosts as a partnership. This applies to all aspects of our dealings with you, whether that be contact, cancellations or resolving problems when they do arise.
If you want to host students, then we do want to place them with you! In order to do this try and build up a good working relationship with our team and before you know it we will have you booked up with students.
Register as a Host Family
If you are new to hosting and looking into how to get started, then take a look at our How Hosting Works page for an idea on how to register with us. If you an existing host and are looking into other homestay providers for your room(s), then contact us to have an initial discussion on how we may be able to help.
We look forward to hearing from you!