All posts by Byron Bunda

Motto by Hilton

Hostels can sleep easy. Hilton chickens out with “Motto”

In 2017 Hilton’s CEO Chris Nassetta announced that they were developing a new brand for a “hostel on steroids.” Wow, the fourth largest hotel company, with 8,976 properties in the world getting into the hostel space. Can you imagine? The resources they’d have at their disposal would make Generator look like a little guest house. That would be pretty scary for hostel owners or would-be hostel owners. Sure, many backpackers enjoy staying exclusively at independent hostels but with plenty of chains like USA Hostels, Vietnam Backpackers, Mad Monkeys, and HostelOne, it’s clear there’s a huge segment of our audience that’s happy to stay with a chain, so why not Hilton Hostels? Yesterday Hilton announced their new brand, “Motto by Hilton” and although there may be steroids, there’s no hostel. Here’s what Motto is going to be about and why they dropped the S and decided to stick to doing hotels.

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bed bug

The ultimate guide to bed bugs for hostels

It’s amazing how much we can suffer from a tiny little bug that doesn’t do any real harm. Bed bugs are the scourge of the hotel and hostel industry, even though they don’t transmit diseases. Being infected with bed bugs is just so unsettling that the sting of your hostel being hit with bed bugs is way worse than their actual bite. Bed bugs are a big issue and this ultimate guide to bed bugs for hostels will help you handle bed bugs if you already have them, or hopefully prevent problems before they. start

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Drifter Jack's & Ember

Thinking about opening a second hostel? Read this first

Is your hostel humming along smoothly? Are you considering starting a second? There are still so many cities that either need a hostel or need more hostels that now is a great time for operators to consider a second location. Andy Ward is the owner of Drifter Jack’s in Austin and Ember in Denver, two top-rated hostels. He joins us today to tell American Hostels what it was like to start a hostel, the second time around.

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Route 66

Return of the road trip

Did you know that road trips are back in fashion? Turns out we can only watch so many fiascos  or suffer through so many baggage fees (paying for a carry-on? Really? ) before many of us decide it’s time to pack up the SUV and hit the road. The particulars of the recent uptick in road trips can be a boon to the hostel industry. In particular, isolated, off-the-beaten-track hostels should take notice of the recent road trip trend.

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Bleisure backpacker

Are you making the most of bleisure travelers?

Have you heard of bleisure? Even though it sounds kind of “bleh,” it’s actually one of the most important trends in travel right now. Bleisure (noun) is the practice of tacking on a couple days of vacation before or after a business trip. This practice has grown 40% in only the last two years. Here in the United States, we’re up to 60% of business trips turning into bleisure and who knows how much more room there is to grow? Based on the characteristics of bleisure, it’s clear that hostels stand to gain the most from capitalizing on this travel trend. Let’s dive into some bleisure insights provided by our friends at Expedia and see what we can learn.

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isaacs hostel

Got $11M? Isaacs, 3rd largest Dublin hostel, for sale

UPDATE: Isaacs sold for 9.7 million euros, 200K euros over the asking price. “We received numerous bids from both national and international investors and this significant transaction is yet another confidence boost for the Dublin hostel market, a sector which is attracting significant investor interest presently,” We don't know who the buyer is yet, but this is good news for the hostel industry in Dublin, Ireland, and Europe at large!

If you’ve got an extra 9.5 million euros lying around, boy do I have the opportunity for you! Dublin’s third largest hostel, Isaacs, is for sale. Dublin is booming and this big hostel is in a prime location. Isaac’s parent company declared bankruptcy back in 2012, but with an 8.6 average rating on Hostelworld, it seems the guests didn’t seem to notice. Here’s why if you have 10 million euros to spend, Isaacs would be a great buy.

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An easy way to add value to your guests (without costing you a dime)

Have you ever ordered hotel room service? Sure, in terms of the prices, it’s a scam. But it’s one of those fun unique elements people enjoy about staying in a fancy hotel (kind of like a bidet!). Most hotels don’t have restaurants and so they’re using food delivery apps like GrubHub to substitute for room service, but with the ability to order from a smart device in your room and earn hotel loyalty points for your Chinese food delivery. Here’s how we can take this practice and modify it for the hostel scene.

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airport do not enter

Make your hostel website like the airport

When you get off a flight at your final destination and make your way towards the airport’s exit, you always pass a certain point where you’re no longer in the secure area of the airport. If you left something behind, you’re out of luck, because at this point, you cannot return to where you came from. Wouldn’t it be great if your hostel’s website could work like that? A backpacker arrives at your website after using an OTA to get there, and after looking around they don’t go back. Instead, they just book directly. Cornell School of Hotel Management named this the Billboard Effect and found that 65% of guests who book directly, first visited an OTA. Unfortunately, unlike at the airport, there is no security guard to prevent a potential guest from re-entering the OTA’s website, but you can give them every incentive not to.

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Fears of “Trump slump” come true

The numbers:

  1. Through March 2017, total overseas travel to the U.S. has declined by 7.8 percent compared to 2016 (excludes Canada and Mexico)
  2. In 4 out of the first 7 months of 2017, international visitation contracted.
  3. Total international travel has dropped 4.2 percent (includes Canada and Mexico)
  4. US Travel Association forecasts Domestic travel to be up 1.6 percent through January
  5. Total travel volume in the U.S. is expected to grow at a rate of 1.2 percent.

Source: https://skift.com/2017/09/06/trump-slump-fears-are-realized-as-revised-findings-show-tourism-drop/

What does this mean for U.S. hostels?

The strong U.S. dollar and the unwelcoming message coming from the White House means that U.S. hostels need to increase their efforts to educate Americans on the benefits of hosteling. Hostels  may be tempted to focus efforts of foreign travelers who are already familiar with the concept of hosteling, but given that this market segment may continue to stagnate, we should look for growth opportunities from the domestic traveler market.

Some hostels also avoid serving Americans given the fear that many of them could be troublesome guests who are simply seeking cheap accommodation, who will detract from the traveler atmosphere and create problems for hostel staff. Managers should ensure that any policies that are intended to discourage anti-social behavior are carefully implemented without repelling legitimate American domestic travelers.

Questions to consider

  1. How does the blend of domestic-international travelers in your hostel compare to the blend in your local market?
  2. How is your hostel marketing to Americans?
  3. How do your check-in policies affect domestic travelers?
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