Christmas is a relatively quiet time for the Homestay team, so we took the opportunity to look back on our first year managing the Isle of Man Homestay Scheme.

TT 2018 Overview

For TT 2018, a total of 864 properties were Homestay Registered providing almost 3,700 bed spaces for visiting race fans which was up 3% compared to 2017. Based on an average stay of 6.7 nights, that is around 25,000 visitor nights spent in Homestay accommodation during the TT period!

Visitor vs Host Mismatch

When we reviewed visitor enquiries, social media comments, website data and the Homestay hosts register, we found that there was a mismatch in visitor expectations when seeking accommodation, and when most Homestay hosts actually register their properties.

Host Registrations

64% of hosts registered or renewed their Homestay property with us between January to April 2018. To establish if this was comparable to previous years, we looked back at registrations since 2015 and a similar pattern emerged.

Visitors searching for Accommodation

Website statistics clearly show activity on www.iomhomestay.com is at its highest in June, presumably because race fans are pre-booking the ferry for the following year and looking for suitable Homestay accommodation.

The Visitor Perspective

Looking at it from the visitor's perspective, to guarantee a sailing it is almost obligatory to pay a deposit and pre-book 12 months in advance. The pressure to get accommodation booked goes up a gear when the final invoice arrives October to November time with the balance due early in the New Year.

This is where we see a crossover of timing issues with the problem being that many hosts have not yet committed to offering Homestay. There are plenty of reasons as to why Hosts hold off until the later in the year to register their property for Homestay.

  • There is Christmas to celebrate first
  • Applications for time off work hasn't yet been authorised
  • Waiting for regular visitors or family to confirm
  • Decisions about staying on island or going away

The Answer?

It is a difficult one, as there are some simple facts we cannot change, however we can try a couple of things.

  • We can impress on our hosts that due to demand for TT sailings outstripping supply, race fans are obliged to pre-book the ferry and campsites so commit to pay outstanding balances by February. This will hopefully encourage some hosts to register earlier which will help ease the stress for some TT visitors.
  • We also must try and help our visitors understand that many of our hosts lead busy lives, with work and family commitments to consider before they are able to register for Homestay and welcome visitors into their home. This can help re-assure visiting race fans that they haven't left is too late to find accommodation in September and that there is plenty more to come in the New Year.

If you are interested in becoming a Homestay Host, you can find more information on the Official Homestay Website. 

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