Interview With Alan Clarke, CEO, Homestay

Alan, you're CEO at Homestay. Tell us a bit about what the company does.

Homestays are an accommodation experience with people, and the connection between them, at their heart. Our role at Homestay.com is to make these experiences possible. We at Homestay believe in the power of connecting people. We believe every trip or out of town stay is enhanced by the people you meet.What does your own role entail? What does a day in your life look like?

It is a privilege to have the opportunity to build not just a global travel business but what is really a global travel category. I have been lucky enough to have had many roles with great companies in my past including McKinsey, Yahoo and Paddy Power. However being CEO of a start-up company is the most exciting professional role I have had. I remember the day we had our first booking and have been fortunate enough to see the business grow from essentially nothing to a company which is beginning to positively impact the lives of thousands of guests and hosts on a daily basis across the globe.

With that sort of growth comes the privilege of having a huge degree of diversity in the day to day of my professional life. On any given day it is a mix of meetings with internal colleagues, external partners, customers or investors (existing or potential). However the common theme through it all is learning. Learning from my team, our partners, our customers and our investors helps drive the growth and development of Homestay as a business. It also further sharpens the vision I have for how the Homestay category can shape the travel and accommodation landscape and how Homestay.com can play an instrumental role in achieving that.

Homestay is primarily marketed to travellers – what can it offer to expats?

Our belief is that the Homestay experience is fundamentally about connecting people. Having lived as an expat in London and San Francisco over 7 years, I know from first-hand experience how a people-based connection to a new location enriches the experience while there. At Homestay.com we regularly see guests booking for truly long-stay experiences of 30, 60, 100 day stays. The value proposition that these Homestay guests are tapping into is the comfort of a home away from home. The Homestay option can be a great way to find your feet in a new location, benefit from the knowledge of your host, find local gems that otherwise may be hidden to you… perhaps the best way to represent this is through the words of our own guests…

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“We had a fantastic time with Priya and Jai. They are very friendly, helpful and charming hosts who answered every question and gave great recommendations for exploring the neighborhood and other parts of the city”

“I stayed with Denise and Trevor for one month and my stay was absolutely perfect. Denise and Trevor are very kind and helpful. They always give good advices and help planning trips… I worked all day but it was very nice to chat with them in the morning and in the evening and I shared my experiences with them. I enjoyed every day staying with them and would stay with them again at any time. I highly recommend them.”

Which countries does Homestay currently cover? Will new locations be added soon?

Homestay has already become a global phenomenon, with hosts in 150 countries, in 3,000 cities and counting. Every day we welcome new hosts to our community, from new locations all around the world, being spread by word of mouth. It is a humbling experience to see the truly global appetite to host and be hosted, and even more so to see our guests and hosts begin to create their own definition of what Homestay.com stands for

"Ashley and Esther exemplify what homestay.com is all about!! Right from the start Ashley waited out side for me to arrive, even offered to go above and beyond to pick me up from the bus station…. She went out of her way (even with 2 upcoming exams) to show me the town and make me feel at home. She was the best tour guide I had, so enthusiastic, and a lot of fun!“

What is it that sets Homestay apart from other local accommodation marketplaces?

Amy’s review is the epitome of what sets Homestay apart. It speaks to the very heart of the brand we stand for and value proposition that Homestays represent. It is about connecting people, enriching travel and accommodation experiences through a personal connection. Homestay only brings on board homes where the host is present. We want to build out the category of Homestay accommodation which at its heart means being and having an appetite to host and be hosted. They are many interpretations of that but the root of it is the fact that Homestays are stays in your home when you are there, they are not vacant apartment stays. With that, we believe the nature of the Homestay host and guest is unique and special. For many, though there is a monetary exchange involved, the Homestay experience is much more than that.

What are Homestay's plans for the future? What can we expect to see over the next few months?

Our goal is to make sure that more people are aware of the Homestay accommodation option. That we see Homestay become part of the language of travel as a category and as a genuine option, just as hotels, hostels and vacation rentals are. I think you will see some interesting partnerships arise from Homestay and hopefully you will hear more about the brand, the category and concept of travelling globally but staying locally.

Finally, when you're not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?

For the moment when not working I tend to run my with my dog on the beaches around Dublin. However in the near future we are expecting our first child, so I am not too sure how much spare time I will have.

Alan Clarke is CEO of Homestay, which connects travellers with hosts worldwide. You can find out more and sign up at Homestay.com.


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