9Stays Offers Personal, Unique Travel

Blogs - Saigon/HCMC: Aug. 13, 2018

It seems like an inevitable irony that travellers go somewhere new, unusual and interesting yet stay in a hotel like any other hotel, sleep in a room that while nice, is like all guest rooms everywhere. The tour you book will take you on a package of preselected “musts” tied to the destination.

It’s out of this quandary that the homestay and homestay travel provider 9Stays emerged.

What is a Homestay?

The homestay is a more personal, intimate solution to travellers’ need for affordable lodging.

Instead of spending money to rent a room at a hotel, homestay travellers pay a typically smaller amount for what are typically more modest accommodations. The temporary residence could be a home or a room within one, and the travellers are treated more like guests than just customers.

9 StayImage source: ibb.co

“They stay with the host and they can experience all the culture, the daily habit of the host,” Thong Do, 9Stays lead salesman, said.

Homestay travellers should come “ready to learn something new,” he said. “They can experience all the things that they haven’t experienced before.”

See It Like No One Else

The difference was abundant when 9Stays Director An Van went to Dalat.

He went with friends to the renowned mountain city and, instead of going for one of the city’s many hotels, he opted for a homestay to host him and some friends. While there he met other travellers as well as the host, who provided Van with some local insight directing him to the best sights in the area.

Video source: vu doan

“When you come to a strange place, that’s really helpful,” Van said.

While Van was staying at the 9Stays homestay, he was able to cook his own meals in the dwelling’s kitchen, something not all hotels have the resources to accommodate to the same degree a homestay would.

Van rated his host as very generous and said he felt comfortable asking the homestay’s owner for help if he had a problem with his motorbike, for example, or even a medical emergency. These are nice extras if you get a hotel with staff willing to go the extra mile for you, but a 9Stays homestay host takes those possibilities as part of their responsibility to the guest.

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Wait, Isn’t This Airbnb?

Through 9Stays, travellers can look online and find a place to stay outside of the hotel system, a room or a home inside of a neighborhood.

Let’s ask the obvious question: how is this different from Airbnb?

“Our customer care policies are much more effective than Airbnb because we are the middleman of host and guest,” Do said.

Where the Airbnb system is comparatively hands off—the service hosts the marketplace and infrastructure for payments, but does little else—9Stays takes a more involved approach in their guest experience by liaising between the guests and tenants as well as by offering on-call support staff to fix any problems that arise in the course of their stay.

“So if there’s something, some problem happening, we can solve it very quickly.”

The company remains involved from the first moment the homestay offers to host guests with 9Stays. Before guests come to a homestay, the destination must pass an in-person inspection conducted by a 9Stays staffer. Each of the 500 homestays listed on 9Stays has received a personal visit from the company.

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The company’s more involved approach also give it an edge in a travel setting like Vietnam. Because Airbnb connects hosts and guests directly, this may cause issues with hosts with limited or no English proficiency and travellers who are English monolinguals.

In place of Airbnb’s direct messaging-centered customer care approach—which while convenient, places the burden of providing professional customer care on an untrained homeowner—both parties interface with the company itself and meet one another in person with all the details of the trip resolved in advance.

Homestay Your Way Through Vietnam

With homestays pepper throughout the country in notable locations such Da Nang, Ha Giang province—”We have the best homestay experience in the northwest”, Do said matter-of-factly—as well as in Dalat, it’s entirely possible to homestay your way through the whole country.

What’s more, 9Stays is populating its site with travel information from professional writers and also invites its guests to write reflections on their homestay, both of which serve as resources for travellers and compliment the host’s insights.

9 StayImage source: ibb.co

9Stays also is aiming to activate homestays on Vietnam’s many islands, places where major hotel providers have not yet sprung up around the existing residences.

9Stays is just over half a year old, but have already facilitated about 300 homestay travel experiences.

It’s more appropriate to call them “experiences” because of how much work that goes into making a homestay visit a unique and novel experience. Who know so much could come from a simple change, staying at a home instead of a hotel.

“Travel is for exploring,” Do said. “You want to travel to explore something new.”

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