Running a homestay in Pua

Living in Thailand
NON NA PUA - นอนนา ปัว in Pua, North Thailand

Running a homestay in Thailand sounds romantic & fun, but that is not the all story. Of course I was warned already for that by friends who have a hotel or guesthouse, but there is pleasure when people love the place, compliment you for the nice room and enjoy the beautiful surroundings here in Pua. One mistake I made is that I was thinking of guests staying a few days. But all our guests are Thai (as here are hardly any foreigner tourists coming to Nan province) and most of them stay only for 1 night. They are on their way to Bo Klua. And having guests staying only 1 night makes it more work and less profitable. We have only 1 room (bungalow) so the advantage is that is easy to manage, but it is also a burden because Thai people like to travel in a small groups with friends & family. So they like to have 2 or 3 rooms and we loose this kind of bookings. And because our homestay is such a small business it is financially not worth to have staff, so you have to do everything yourself, you are the owner, manager, front-office, maid, guest-relation officer and cook. And whatever needs to be done.

The E-commerce manager

To get bookings people need to be able to find you. Nowadays you need to be on bookings websites like Booking or Agoda or Airbnb. And you need to be found on social media like  Facebook and Google MapsOf course we prefer to have direct bookings because that safes us loosing commission to the booking websites. As Facebook and Google Maps are popular here in Thailand we have to represent our homestay good. We try to do that by having a Facebook page and posting beautiful photos and stories about our homestay and the area of Pua. And we encourage guests to write a review on Facebook, Google Maps or on the bookings websites. So you can find our homestay on Facebook, Google Maps, Booking, Agoda, Airbnb and our homestay has its own website. And all this digital forums have to be managed and maintained.

The Manager

To plan our work for the homestay we need to have a list of our reservations, we do this manually. But when bookings come via a booking website we have to block this dates on the other bookings websites and on our own reservation list. And yes we could get a channel manager, but that is not worthwhile for a small business like our homestay. Direct booking come in by Line, Messenger or just by calling us. And of course we have to block the dates at the booking websites. As this is done manually, yes of course we made once a double booking. But that was a good lesson. Direct reservations are only accepted after payment of deposit by bank. Rest of the payment is done in cash when guests arrive. The payments for bookings via booking websites are handled by the booking company and they pay us about 10 days later. So we have to check what bookings are really paid. So the manager has to streamline all bookings, accept direct bookings and check payments. And to be able to know if we are actually making a little bit money we have to keep accountancy of the things we spend money on for the homestay.

Daily routine of the maid, cook, front office

The day starts with serving breakfast. The Thai breakfast is easy, we buy it at a nearby restaurant. We just take the scooter, buy the breakfast and at home put in on a dish and serve it on the verandah of the bungalow. Western breakfast is a bit more work as we make it ourselves. After breakfast we wait until people check-out and start cleaning the room. Due to the corona virus that is now also a bit more work. Cleaning the room means also doing the laundry, ironing the laundry, washing dishes, cups & glasses. Replacing toilet paper, soap and cleaning the verandah and sometimes cleaning the windows. After cleaning the room we prepare the room for the next guests. When that is all done we wait for the next guests to arrive and welcome them at our homestay. And we ask them what they want to eat for breakfast and at what time. Sound all easy but first of all you can actually not go anywhere yourself the all day. And it is more work as you think. Yes, cleaning the room takes us much more time as a maid has in a big hotel.


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