Promoting Malaysia’s homestay and vacation properties to the rest of the world is the ambition of iiCity.com, a relatively recent webportal. Behind the idea is a former real estate seller, 3′-year old Teh Kim Guan. He recently explained to the Star newspaper that business had been flat for homestay despite the growth in offer.
“Foreign guests love Malaysian culture and food, and the best way to experience this is through a homestay experience. However, not many Malaysian hosts have the opportunity to serve guests from overseas and many vacation homes remain vacant due to a lack of exposure,” Teh explained to the newspaper.
The website iicity.com is an online marketplace that enables people to find, book and rent vacation homes. It has been in activity for just one year.
Concentrating first only on Malaysia, the registration for homestay owners is free of charge and includes at no additional cost a link to social network , search engine optimisation or online advertisements. iiCity.com is doing its best to bring exposure to vacation home and home stays. Hosts are charged3% for any confirmed booking and receive the payment three days after the guest checks out.
For travellers booking on the web, iiCity.com proposes a 360° viewing function which brings to users the feeling of their selectd homestay. The site offers also the option of integrating a direct transport to the place, avoiding to guests to desperately look either for a taxi or for the direction. Some 25 drivers are already working with the site. Guests can pay via PayPal, credit card, or online banking via the portal when they book an accommodation.
Travellers can use the website to survey the surroundings of the homestay before they place a booking as there is a streetview feature in the website, which gives them a peek in.
iicity.com has been growing since its launch, and as of early March, has over 1,575 members and 700 listings. It just launched last January a Chinese version, targeting the Taiwan and Singaporean markets and will add next August two more countries, Indonesia and Thailand.