iStopOver: Earn Extra Income or Travel on the Cheap, and a Special Promotion for Wise Bread Readers
Many people have put their vacation on hold with the current economic downturn, or are searching for alternative ways to travel on the cheap. Other people yet are looking to earn some extra income on the side to help pay the bills. iStopOver is a solution for both of these groups. And they are offering a special promotion just for Wise Bread readers.
Hometel: Home + Hotel
The premise of iStopOver is that it is an online platform which connects people who want to rent out extra rooms in their homes to travelers who want to save on costly hotel bills.
It has the added benefit of offering travelers a taste of “home” on the road; a cozy place to stay that is far from the sterile cubicle environment of a hotel or motel.
Where are the Listings?
As a fairly new entity, iStopOver currently has listings in the United States, Canada, London, France, South Africa, and Brazil. But they are planning on global domination, so hosts from more countries are adding their listings each day. There are no geographical restrictions.
As a traveler, you can browse the listings, converse with “hometel” owners (hosts) using the secure online platform, and pay for your stay online with credit card or PayPal. There is no cost to the traveler, aside from the cost of accommodation (which is only fully paid to the host after your stay, as a security measure).
As a host, listing your accommodation is free. When a traveler books, iStopOver deducts 9% of your nightly rate as a transaction fee. (This too, is only fully paid to iStopOver once the traveler’s stay is complete, again as a security measure).
Hosts set their own nightly rates, so depending on your location, amenities, the time of year, and the going rate in your area for accommodation, you can set a competitive and attractive rate that, after the 9% transaction fee is deducted, makes the venture worthwhile.
Is it Safe?
Staying in somebody’s home – and as a host, having a stranger in your home - could be dodgy, and iStopOver is all over it. Personal contact information is shielded while the potential host and traveler converse on the iStopOver platform.
Once the booking is made, it is highly recommend that the host and traveler connect and converse in-person or over the phone prior to the stay to put all minds at ease.
If the traveler feels upon arrival that the scene is not what was portrayed on the listing or is not a safe place to be, they can leave and receive a refund in full from iStopOver.
iStopOver also uses social media sites like Facebook and Linked In to help users authenticate each other and get to know one another better. (Users need not be active members on such Sites; it is simply an advanced and optional feature).
And of course, travelers can rate hosts and post reviews of their stay for future travelers to read.
Hosts set the accommodation parameters, such as check-in and check-out times, no-smoking, pets, and curfews. As a traveler, every listing will be different, so it behooves you to read the listings carefully to ensure a good fit.
There is a lot more information on the iStopOver website, so if you still have unanswered questions, take a peek at the FAQs or contact them directly, and they will be happy to help.
Special Promotions and Contests
As a special incentive to Wise Bread readers, any reader who posts a listing on iStopOver before April 30th 2009, will not pay any transaction fees on confirmed bookings until the end of July 2009. Simply enter the code “WISE BREAD” in the “How did you hear about us – other” field when creating your listing.
Also, starting Monday April 13th, iStopOver is hosting a contest in their Facebook Group, with a grand prize of a free night of accommodation from iStopOver, as well as gift certificates to the iTunes music store.