Accommodation services play a big part in determining the destination selected by an education tourist. Feedback in this day and age from social media can make or break an organization, which is something for every single service provider to be aware of. It is for this reason that an organization should try to establish a set of parameters that it can be guided by in order to manage accommodation services effectively.
Gathering feedback from a client or requiring ongoing evaluation is a measure we use to understand if we are still on the correct path: are we meeting the standard that we promised or have we lost sight of our goals?
Accommodation services require this on a constant basis as people are a resource that requires effort to both manage and please. Maintaining a positive stream of feedback is a process that needs to be managed from the very onset of accommodation service provision.
At Good Hope Studies, we provide our clientèle with various accommodation options to suit either their budget, age, nationality, personal preferences or limitations. We offer our students a choice between homestay accommodation, shared self-catering accommodation or self-catering residence accommodation as well as varying private accommodation options.
We have, however, over the years and through the nature of our business, noticed a push in the direction of Homestay accommodation.
Homestay is the most popular accommodation option as it is best suited to a traveller looking for a cultural immersion experience.
The type of clientèle we receive are all about engaging with the people of the country they are travelling to and they also seek input from the same people to assist them in experiencing the best of the country.
- While Homestay is acknowledged as a way to involve a student traveller in the ways of the local people, it does not always work if the traveller is not adaptable. Our school endeavors to recruit host families that are flexible and so they can readily accommodate any personality with little to no hiccups.
- Good Hope Studies continuously assesses the willingness of our families to host by engaging them on various platforms and gathering their impressions and feedback on current and previous students. We also conduct yearly inspections to determine if the needs of the client are being met according to IALC regulations.
- Homestay is, in essence, malleable and can be changed – this is what makes it popular with a wide variety of students. We are able to adapt to trends by recruiting a particular type of family and recruiting in particular areas of the city.
- Homestay has little to no extra expenses for the client and this means they can dedicate their extra funds to enjoying the surroundings of the city.
- Direct conversations can influence outcomes preferable to both student and family and this is a winner at the best of times but also means there is accountability from the side of the service provider.
- We recommend that students with emotional needs as well as cultural expectations be placed in Homestay on the understanding that they are entering into a private individuals home and they need to completely understand this concept.
This being said, there is also a great need for semi-private accommodation for the traveller who has restrictions in either their dietary needs or their lifestyle preference.
In the last few years, we have experienced a growing number of bookings from people with dietary difficulties and, as times change with host family recruitment, our clientèle search for self-catering accommodation.
- Self-catering can be provided in terms of flat rentals or shared hostel-type accommodation. It is for this reason that our school manages two dedicated self-catering properties within a walking distance of our main campus.
- The aim is to provide the comfort of a home from which students can enjoy the space as well as set their own boundaries while they determine their own movements.
- Self-catering accommodation is regulated by rules set out by the owner of the property and works on the principle of respecting a shared space. It is not nearly as popular as homestay and tends to be less effective if there is no on-site management.
- We recommend shared self-catering accommodation for the younger learner who is weary of travelling alone but we also need to stress that independence of personality is a key factor in this choice. Students staying in this type of accommodation have to cater for their own needs and be concious that everything occurs in a shared environment. People of a youthful nature would enjoy the community environment of shared rooms and shared kitchens and it is for this reason that we do not encourage fussy or older people to book this type of product.
- Our older students usually enjoy the privacy of a guesthouse or a lodge where they can have exclusive use of the room and the bathroom and have a dedicated cleaning service on a daily basis. This means the student is free to determine their daily diet and meal time without having to consider the needs of others as they might in a homestay setting. Guesthouse accommodation is not for the budget conscious client as there will be extra expenses that need to be taken into account.
- In past months, we have picked up on a trend of business travellers acquiring apartments to enable them to travel with their families. This usually works on a short-term basis and can be relatively expensive depending on the size of the family and length of stay. Certain nationalities prefer to travel as a family and while this may be lucrative, our own school accommodation is not equipped to accept bookings of this nature. It is for this reason that we would encourage business and family travellers to stay in apartments of their own choice and we consider this as private accommodation bookings.
The onus of acquiring and maintaining properties to the desired standards of the regulatory body lies with the accommodation service provider. A client will then assess their own needs and determine their preference according to this. Good Hope Studies strives to place the right client in the right accommodation as this forms more than a third of their travel needs and will also, in the end, determine the feedback we receive.
Brenda Nyathi is Homestay & Groups Manager with Good Hope Studies (school profile | www.ghs.co.za). This IALC-accredited language school is located in Cape Town, South Africa.
More information on the IALC Accommodation Code.
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