How often do hostel owners share their profits with the receptionists? Definitely not often but, as you will learn today, the answer is not, “never.” Enter The Crash Pad Hostel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Have you heard of Tennessee? When you think about The Crash Pad, put away all your stereotypes of “The South” in America.
The Crash Pad advertises itself as “an uncommon hostel.” From the guest perspective this is certainly true. The Crash Pad is a certified LEED Platinum, which means it uses fewer resources, reduces waste and negative environmental impacts, and was constructed to maximize health and productivity. No other hostel currently holds this certification.
Besides their incredibly cool building, step behind the reception desk and let’s talk about what really makes The Crash Pad one-of-a-kind. It’s called, “Open Book Management.”
The Economic Policy Institute published an in-depth report on Airbnb’s costs and benefits to society. It’s full of empirical research and meaningful conclusions on how everyone from residents, to housekeepers, to local governments is affected by the rise of Short Term Rentals (or Airbnbs as they're mostly known). This article covers the report and how its findings specifically relate to hostels.
Last month Hostelworld released its Evolution of the Hostel Traveler report. We learned some valuable insights into how present and future generations of travelers book hostels. Let's discuss how these behaviors can affect your pricing strategy.
Do you compete with other hostels in your area? If so, you’re probably checking regularly to see how much the competition is charging. If you don’t monitor your competition’s prices carefully, you’re either missing out on extra profit by making your beds too cheap or missing out on bed nights by making them too expensive. 49% of Generation Z backpackers reference price as what will attract them to stay at a hostel. The problem is, how the prices change is only half the picture. When the prices change is important too.
When your hostel changes prices is just as important as how you change your prices. Today’s hostel travelers are price sensitive, they’re booking in advance, and with the vast majority of hostels selling online, backpackers have perfect information into what a bed’s current market value is. Getting smart with dynamic pricing is an effective way to increase your profitability and decrease anxiety from low occupancy nights.
We’ve covered before how important it is for your hostel to have a revenue management strategy. One of the reasons why making decisions about your yield strategy feels complicated and scary is because you normally don’t get to see how other hostels in town are performing. Hostels have to make a decision based upon their own occupancy, their own prices, and maybe their competitors’ prices, without knowing how full everyone else is. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
STR has been collecting benchmarking data on the hotel industry for over fifty years, and now they’re starting to work with hostels too. I spoke to Patrick Mayock from STR about their new hostel benchmarking programs and what they mean for the hostel industry.
Once when I was working with a small hostel the owner showed me their housekeeping procedures. When it was time to mop the floors, he told me they poured a splash of cleaning chemicals into the bucket. “Okay, but how much is a splash?” I asked. He looked back at me bewildered, and assured me that common sense applied; a splash means a splash. A few days later a volunteer was asked to re-mop the floor because he had used too much product, leaving a soapy, streaky residue all over the bathrooms.
When the people that power a hostel have to use their discretion, nothing can be planned for and anticipated because each day things will be done differently. One week the mop bucket will be too soapy and the next week too diluted. If your hostel depends on having the owner or a superstar manager there to keep the hostel on track, do you really own a hostel or do you own a job running a hostel? Having systems to run your hostel for you are essential. They allow your hostel to provide a consistent, quality guest experience that’s powered by the systems you have in place, not the people that happen to be operating them.
Did you know that there is a publicly traded hostel company? That’s right: there is a hostel that you can buy and sell on the London Stock Exchange! This hostel company is Safestay, one of Europe’s fastest growing hostel companies.
Besides the fact that it’s kind of cool you can buy hostel stock, being a public company means we get a glimpse into Safestay’s inner workings; a peek under the hood that you don’t normally get with other big hostel chains. This week Safestay made an announcement on its performance in 2018. Let’s take a look and see what we can learn, not only about Safestay, but what we can apply to our own hostels.
Last week I had the privilege of presenting at the American Hostel Conference. My talk was on trends in the economy, society, and the travel industry, and how they will affect hostels in 2019. Just as I hope the hostel operators in attendance learned from my presentation, I learned so much from the other presenters and attendees of the conference. We'll cover some of the topics from presentations in the coming weeks, but today let's recap what we can learn from the conference overall.
Bushfires are a fact of life in Australia. Everywhere you go, there are signs letting you know what the current level of fire danger is. In Australia, there isn’t a question of IF there will be a fire. The question is rather, WHEN will there be a fire. Because bushfire is an inevitable part of Australian life, the fire service constantly encourages the public to have a plan in place. If you have a plan for how your family will react to a bushfire, you’re much more likely to survive. Economic recessions are a lot like bushfires in that they occur regularly, you can’t predict precisely when they’ll begin, but if your hostel makes a plan now, it stands a much better chance of not getting burnt down. Today lets talk about how you can prepare your hostel for a recession.
It’s a story we’ve all heard or experienced ourselves: A guest at the hostel has an easily fixable problem, but instead of letting the staff know, they keep it to themselves, feeling unhappy, waiting until they’re checking out, or even worse, until they write their review. Naturally this is a frustrating experience for all hostel operators. We can’t help you if we don’t know you need help! However, it’s interesting to see where different hostels place the blame.
Some people say its the lazy millennials’ fault for being too addicted to their phones to walk down to reception and let them know there’s a problem. Others, like Podstel, are adapting to the change by using messaging to interact with their guests. Messaging is the future of communication for customer service. Your hostel can use messaging not only to keep guests happy, but also to make more money. Today we'll cover why messaging is great for hostels, give you some ideas on how to use messages, and then provide a few tech recommendations for making your messages easy and effective.
What is the difference between service and hospitality? It’s a simple question, but it has powerful implications for your guests depending on how your hostel answers it. I had the privilege of attending the most recent HostelSkills conference in Lisbon, Portugal. The presentations were wide-ranging, covering quantitative topics like revenue management and qualitative topics like staff motivation. One of the favorite presentations among the hostel owners and managers in attendance was from Podstel, delivered by co-owner Ambrose Baptista.
Ambrose explained their five pillars of hospitality. Podstel’s five metaphorical pillars are a valuable mindset for every hostel operator. The ideas and the actions they embody are what separates an average, unremarkable, forgettable hostel from an exceptional, memorable hostel that guests rave about to their friends and fellow travelers. Today we’ll learn about Ambroses’ five pillars, how Podstel embodies them, and how your hostel can too. If you incorporate these ideas into everything you do, if you build these pillars into the foundation of your guest experience, your guests are sure to leave your hostel feeling delighted.