11th avenue hostel

5 simple steps towards a better online reputation

In 2007, we took over a horribly run-down property and began the slow process of converting it into 11th Avenue Hostel. During those 12 years, we experienced the repercussions of cruel reviews, low-quality photos, and unhappy guests due to misleading information or the lack of understanding of what a hostel is.

Thankfully, the result of these mishaps allowed us to become knowledgeable about improving and maintaining our online reputation, rolling with the punches, and making sure our business shone online.

Below, we’ll share some tried and true techniques to help hostels maintain their online reputation in an increasingly competitive digital world.

BackpackerBiz Takeaway:

This post is a guest post from Sydney Ilg from the 11th Avenue Hostel. She delivered an excellent presentation at the American Hostel Conference and was kind enough to share her insights with BackpackerBiz readers as well.

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generator hostel amsterdam

Discover how STR’s new benchmarks will change the way hostels set prices

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. 

BackpackerBiz Takeaway:

  • STR collects Occupancy and Average Daily Rate data from hostels and creates benchmarks.
  • Participating hostels use this data to compare their property's performance to the city's performance and make more accurate revenue management decisions.
  • STR has benchmarked hotel data for more than fifty years but recently started measuring hostels too.
  • Even small hostels that aren't big on number crunching can use this data to make easier decisions about their prices and stop guessing.
  • Hostels that want to work with STR can contact Patrick Mayock directly (PMayock@str.com).

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hostel staff

Do you own a hostel or do you own a job? Why systems are essential

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.

BackpackerBiz Takeaway:

  • Systems are "the way its done" at your hostel. They are documented and easy for even low-skilled, novice staff to understand.
  • Systems ensure your hostel produces a consistent guest experience regardless of the people operating the hostel.
  • Once your hostel has consistent systems for operating, constant incremental improvements will increase profitability.
  • Without systems to run the hostel, the hostel's performance is entirely dependent on the owner or a great manager's presence.
  • Systems, are motivators because they encourage mastery and encourage staff to influence the hostel by improving its systems.
  • A hostel owner's job is not to run the hostel, it is to create the systems that run the hostel so that the hostel may continue on without the owner.

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safestay

Learn 4 things from the only hostel on the stock exchange

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.

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american hostel conference

Four fast lessons from the 2019 American Hostel Conference

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.

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fire danger rating

Recession: Prepare your hostel now, or suffer later

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.

BackpackerBiz Takeaway:

  • Recessions are a natural part of the economic cycle. We are due for a recession but don't know when it will start
  • Preparing for a recession will help your hostel survive
  • Create a contingency plan for staffing levels during a downturn
  • Can you diversify your hostel's customer base to lower your risk?
  • Invest in your hostel while you have the resources to do so
  • Always look for ways to make your hostel more efficient
  • Future bookings hedge against possible downturns
  • Consider the effect on the guest experience when making plans for austerity measures

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texting

Why messages are the secret to higher hostel ratings and sales

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.

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podstel team

Steal these hospitality techniques to improve your reviews

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.

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science

How to increase your hostel’s revenue without wasting time on spreadsheets

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Let’s talk about one of your least favorite topics: revenue management. Wait! You're about to stop reading because either:

  • A) You assume this article is going to confuse you. 
  • B) You assume this article is going to bore you

But, after we review the basics of what revenue management means, we’re going to discuss a killer tool offered by Cloudbeds® that:

  • A) makes revenue management easy and 
  • B) enables you to put it on auto-pilot.

Every hostel could benefit from either managing their revenue more effectively or saving time implementing their revenue management strategy, so whether you’re an excel linear programming and regression analysis wizard (few people) or a total revenue management novice (most people) this article will have something for you.

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hostelworld lasers

Warning! Hostelworld is changing their marketing strategy

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Recently Hostelworld made a presentation to investors, reviewing their performance over the last year and outlining plans for 2019. What did the presentation say? Essentially, Hostelworld’s done with big money ads with 50 Cent and Mariah Carey. Now, they’re going to use their unique content to market specifically to their target customers. Hostelworld is finished using the shotgun approach. Now they are switching to lasers. This has huge consequences for the world of hostel marketing. First let’s talk about Hostelworld’s new strategy, then discuss how your hostel will be affected.

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