How it Works
SisterStay is the easiest way for like-minded women to make new friends
whilst exploring new places. The overnight cost is the same wherever you
go and won’t break the bank. It feels
like a real community with everyone looking out for one another and our members
are genuinely interested in embracing life and all it has to offer.
BE VERIFIED - CREATE A PROFILE & LISTING - SEARCH - CONTACT - REQUEST & STAY
1. Be Verified and Join Us
We all want to know that
the person we have coming to stay, or we are about to stay with, is who they
say they are, so we ask all community members to be verified. By showing one form of photo ID (passport or driver's licence) together with a recent Proof of Address document (telephone or utility bill or
similar) during the course of a 'live' chat, we can carry out the necessary identity verification checks. Once approved, you will be invited to join
us. Peace of mind for everyone.
2. Create a Profile
This is the fun part!
We refer to each other's Profiles to find out more about one another and decide where to travel next. Create your online Profile by writing
a little about yourself and uploading a photo. Who are you? What do you love? Create a Listing by describing your home. It's best to do this in advance and save it in Word for easy upload later. Fill in the various checkboxes to provide the essential details
other SisterStay members will want to know and upload a few photos of your home
and area. You will need to publish this information in one sitting, but you can go back and edit this information, adding more detail,
at any time. We do advise you to use the postcode of a nearby landmark or attraction rather than that of your own home at this stage. GoogleMaps are annoyingly accurate!
3. Search for Hosts
Search for Listings of SisterStay Hosts that suit you. You can search by region, interest/s or even dog-friendliness! Going into an individual Listing will give you more information about each Host and her home including dietary information and disabled-access.
4. Get in Touch
Press the 'Contact' button to start an online conversation with your potential Host/s. Arrange a 'live' chat, like when you were verified, to get a feel for each other's interests and character. Discuss family set-ups and availability. Ask about evening meal arrangements. Make sure you'll have access to whatever is important to you including nearby courses, attractions or events.
Do not give away personal contact details at this stage, but continue to use the safety and convenience of the SisterStay website message facility until you are ready to make the online booking.
5. Request and Pay
After agreeing dates with your Host, press the 'Request to Book' button which will initiate a payment screen. The overnight fee of £36 includes a continental breakfast and a booking fee. Remember all bookings must go through the SisterStay website in order to enjoy the support of the SisterStay team. Please feel free to give over your exact address at this stage.
6. Start Packing
Pull that suitcase out from under the bed and get ready to explore!
We are an inclusive community and we don't want money to be an impediment to
travel therefore we fix a £36 a night Room Fee which
applies to all accommodation regardless of type or location. £30 of this goes directly to the Host to include a continental breakfast. Any extras on top,
such as cooked breakfast, packed lunch or evening meal, should be negotiated
directly with your Host prior to travel.
There is a £6 booking fee which includes verification, administration and Stripe's money transfer charges. If you choose to accept PayPal as your main payment processor, instead of Stripe, the money transfer charges are passed onto you as Host.
SisterStay is based on mutual trust. We ask everyone staying as a Guest to respect their Host and her home as they would their own.
At present it is totally free to join the SisterStay community, but once we have a sustainable number of Hosts and Guests, we will introduce a joining fee.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can anyone join SisterStay?
Our community is for women over 50. Our membership is lawfully restricted to female-only under Schedule 16 of the Equality Act 2010.
Is everyone single?
Although the majority of our members are on their own, we do have some
married members too who travel without their partners
for whatever reason. We ask Hosts to clarify what their home situation
is as part of the pre-booking conversation so there are no surprises for
Guests when visiting.
Do I need a spare bedroom to host Guests?
Yes, we think it would be difficult to host without a guest bedroom, but we have recently decided to open our community to those only wishing to stay too. We encourage Guest Only members to consider offering other forms of hospitality to fellow SisterStay members visiting their area: pre-travel planning assistance or an offer to show off the best of where you live or perhaps even a shared meal. Just offer whatever feels comfortable and do-able for you.
How soon can I start looking for Hosts to stay with?
Once you've been verified, you can create your Profile. Then you can start planning your first SisterStay visit. The more women who sign up, the more fun it is going to be, so encourage your friends far and wide to join us!
Is it a reciprocal arrangement?
No, you can stay with whoever is willing to accommodate you. Similarly, you may host whoever you like and not necessarily the same people who have hosted you.
Are there income tax implications in the UK?
Thanks to the ‘Rent a Room’ scheme, you can earn up to £7,500 per year renting out a furnished room in the home where you live (even if you don’t own it) without paying tax on that income. That’s 250 nights’ of SisterStay Hosting.
Why does everyone need to be verified?
SisterStay is a private online community. We are not open to the general public to view. For this reason, we need to verifiy the identity of everyone we invite to join us. This may seem annoying, but for general peace of mind, it's good to know who all of our community members are.
How do I become verified?
It's very straight forward. Once you've applied to join the community, we'll be in touch to initiate a 'live' chat during which time we will need to see one form of offical photo ID (passport) together with a recent, official Proof of Address document (tutility bill or
similar). Once approved, you will be invited to join
us with a special code. Thanks in advance for taking the time to do this.
CREATING A PROFILE AND LISTING
What’s the difference between my Profile and my Listing?
Your Profile is about you personally: name, preferred display or 'Username', contact details, general location (best to use the postcode of a nearby landmark or attraction rather than your own) and a more detailed description of you as a person. It’s hard to get a full picture of someone from a lot of tick-boxes so this is where you can really elaborate and let your individual personality shine through. This is also where you will upload a photo of yourself (a good quality image please - head and shoulders only, front-on and smiling).
Your Listing is all about your home and/or area: photos of your home, details about your area and suggestions of nearby attractions / events / courses.
Can I edit my Profile once it’s been created?
Yes, after you have pressed the orange button to Post Listing, you can always revisit it to edit and add further details later. Just click on your photo in the top right hand corner of the main screen. You will then see a choice of Inbox, Listing, Profile or Settings. Choose Listing, click on the title of your listing, then Edit Listing. Don’t forget to save it by pressing Post Listing at the end when you’re done.
What do I need for my Listing?
It’s a good idea before you start to have some good quality photos of your home ready to use.
When you list your home, you will need a ‘Listing title’ to attract people to investigate further: “Cake-making in Cornwall?” “Beach-combing in Bristol” “Singing and Cycling in Sussex”. Alliteration not required, but it’s kind of addictive!
How do I, as Host, create the Listing for my home?
Creating the actual listing of your home is pretty easy, but because our current website is not customised entirely for SisterStay, there are a few pesky details you need to look out for:
1. All accommodation is paid for online so when asked to Select Listing Type, tick the box, Offering with Online Payment. The category Host & Guest will then automatically appear.
2. Where it says Price, you need to type in £36. Every property, of every size and location on our site, is £36 per night. This includes the SisterStay booking fee.
3. Fill in all the details about you and your interests. Describe your home and your area in such a way that other women can't wait to come and stay. Think of what you love most about where you live and what might entice people to visit. Are there any great courses available near you? Any interesting festivals or events? Any museums or historic homes? Upload web links to relevant sites so people can investigate further for themselves. www.craftcourses.com is a great place to find local craft course offerings, but you can also check local listings by typing "what's on" together with the name of your nearest town in Google.
4. GoogleMaps will want to access your exact location. Don’t let them!! Type in the postcode of a nearby landmark or attraction so we can see your general location only.
Can I upload photos to my Listing? What sort of photos are required?
Yes, there is room for plenty of photos. We suggest, at the very least, adding one of your Guest bedroom, one of your sitting room and perhaps one or two of the general area. Do not add your personal Profile photo here. This is just for listing your home, although you will also answer a series of questions about your home and your interests here. These will make it easier for people to find like-minded types when searching.
Your head and shoulders personal Profile photo is added by going into the Profile section of your Account in the top right hand corner of the screen.
How do I access my Account details?
You can access your Account details from inside Settings. If you need to change email address at any time or reset your password, this is where to do it. Also in Settings, you can adjust your Notification preferences.
When and why will SisterStay send me Notifications? And how can I change this?
Newsletters notifying of any new Host Listings are automatically sent out on a weekly basis. This can be adjusted to Daily or Never from inside Settings.
Also inside Settings, you can opt in / out of
Notifications whenever someone sends you a message, accepts your request for
accommodation or gives feedback and such.
How do I search for Hosts whose interests match mine?
Type in your key interest in the Search bar. This will bring up anyone else who has listed that interest in their 'Top 5'. To see all available Host options (as opposed to Guest Only options), just click on the Host & Guest catgeory, under All Categories, in the first filter on the left hand side of the screen. You can then filter further by using more options down the left hand side, eg. UK Area, Preferred Length of Stay, Host Type or Pets. It will bring up the most Hosts if you work through one filter at a time.
Can I save my search results?
You can ‘Follow’ anyone you might one day like to stay with. This means you will always be able to find them again when searching because they will appear in your Profile area under the heading, Following.
CONTACTING OTHER MEMBERS
How do I contact other members of the SisterStay community?
You will see, as you Search, that you can click on a Listing to take you to the Profile of the person who owns it. This will give you extra information which does not appear amongst the main filters. It will also show a photo of the person whose Listing it is and beside that, a Contact button. Pressing this will initiate a chat between you where you can find out more information about one another before making a Request to Book.
At what stage should I exchange contact details with my potential Host / Guest?
We recommend you take the time to get to know one another reasonably well before requesting to book and exchanging details. Initially, the best way to do this is via the SisterStay website’s Contact facility. We would also recommend a 'live' chat just as you did to be verified. You may ultimately like to exchange telephone numbers before finally giving your address after booking.
In order to receive the support of the SisterStay team, all bookings must go through the SisterStay booking system.
What do you mean by different Host Types?
Not everyone chooses to be a Host, but those who do fall into one of three categories:
1. Meeters and Greeters: will offer you a warm welcome into their home, be happy to chat through your plans with you and provide you with breakfast in the morning and a friendly face to chat to at the end of the day.
2. Buddies: have a little more time to offer so may be able to
accompany you on an evening out or possibly a day trip or day course. They will
be pleased to help you make the most of your time away and share their
local knowledge with you.
3. Champions: love having guests in their home and have plenty of time to act as an informal guide for your trip, if desired. They may help you put your itinerary together and are always happy to explore any ideas you may have for your stay.
Decide which one you are (if hosting) and consider which type you like to stay with.
Why does SisterStay encourage members to offer alternative forms of hospitality if they can't host?
SisterStay is not just AirBnB for older women. We want to create a friendly and supportive community with a shared sense of belonging to something rather special.
At £36 a night, most SisterStay Hosts are not in it to make money. They open their homes – and their hearts – to SisterStay Guests because it’s a wonderful thing to be able to meet new people and share what you have with like-minded types.
Not everyone can host. We understand that. But we do ask that members who can’t host to consider other ways of contributing to the community. Suggestions include helping Guests to plan their stay in your area, offering to show people around, perhaps accompanying them to an event or even sharing a meal together.
SisterStay is about
creating great opportunities to travel and explore at an affordable price, but it is also about supporting one another on this next chapter in life.
Why is the Room Charge the same flat rate for everyone, irrespective of size or location?
Our flat-rate overnight fee sets us apart from other communities providing accommodation. We hope that the flat rate encourages a real sense of friendship and community, with us all sharing our homes and hospitality on an equal basis.
How does SisterStay accept payment?
SisterStay primarily uses Stripe as our secure online
payment processor. Unlike Paypal, Stripe allows you to use any type of credit
or debit card to make payment and you do not need to have a Stripe
When you sign up to SisterStay with Stripe, you will need to enter your bank account details in order to receive payment as a Host. Any charges to transfer money to your account are included in SisterStay's overnight
Stripe holds all accommodation fees in escrow, so all monies are collected in advance but not paid until the stay has been completed. This should provide peace of mind for both Host and Guest.
We can also accommodate Paypal payments but the charges to transfer money are higher, around £1.80 per night and are taken from the Host's overnight fee by Paypal. Monies are not held in escrow by Paypal.
When will I, as Host, receive my Hosting Fee?
SisterStay Guests pay the full Room Fee of £36
per night at point of booking.
Stripe holds this payment securely until several working days after
the stay has taken place, at which point the £30 Hosting Fee is forwarded
directly to the Host’s bank account.
Paypal forwards the £30 Hosting Fee, minus money transfer charges of around £1.80 per night, immediately upon booking.
What happens if I need to cancel my stay?
We understand that circumstances change and sometimes the best laid plans fall apart, but we ask that, as far as possible, you try to commit to any bookings once made.
If this proves impossible, we will refund the £30 per night Room Fee, but since Stripe payment fees and further administrative work are involved, we regret we will not be able to refund the SisterStay Booking Fee.
What happens if I need to cancel my hosting?
Of course, we very much hope that once you have accepted a booking and committed to hosting a SisterStay Guest, you will be able to do so, but we do understand that circumstances can change and this is not always possible. For this reason, we recommend that when you sign up to SisterStay, you do so with a friend in the same general location. It’s fun to share hosting stories and it means there is hopefully some alternative accommodation nearby to which the Guest’s booking can easily be transferred.
If we are unable to transfer the booking to a suitable alternative, and the booking is cancelled by the Host (rather than on behalf of the Guest), we will refund the full fee paid by the Guest.
Please note that repeated cancellations will have a negative impact on your reputation as a Host.
Do I need special home insurance to Host on SisterStay?
All Hosts are advised to take out appropriate insurance cover as your normal home insurance is very unlikely to cover any claims involving guests. We recommend Pikl since they specialise in policies which ‘top up’ your normal insurance. They offer a “Private Room Host” policy which would cover a guest hurting themselves or causing damage of some kind. This can be purchased for a variety of non-consecutive days: 35 days (£29.99), 90 days (£39.99) or annually (£69.99). Please be sure to inform your normal home insurer that you are offering (hosted) short-term lets and have the additional cover with Pikl.
Do I need travel insurance to travel with SisterStay?
For peace of mind, we always advise having travel insurance. Our contacts at WorldwideInsure can offer competitive travel insurance for all ages. Do consider their Annual Multi-trip policy.
**Please note that SisterStay will receive a small introduction fee from both Pikl and WorldwideInsure.
How do I write a review?
Once you have stayed with someone through
SisterStay, you will be prompted to review your experience. This involves
a ‘thumbs up’ and accompanying comment. Please be honest but not unkind in your
evaluation. In particular, other Guests would like to know about ease of
stay, friendliness of Host, general feel of home and area and any great courses
or activities you would recommend.
Other Hosts would very much like to hear about your experience with each Guest too.
How do I close my SisterStay account?
We very much hope you’ll be so pleased with your SisterStay experience that you will not only want to stay with us but also recommend us to friends. However, in the unlikely event that you would like to leave, you need only go into Settings, then Account, then press Permanently delete my account. Please note that this action cannot be reversed and you will be required to be re-verified and recreate your Profile and Listing should you decide to join us again at any time.
Thanks for reading this far!
1 September, 2020