In order to manage a hostel it is initially important to establish exactly what is classed as a hostel. A hostel a place for both group and individual travelers to stay with a choice of either dormitory accommodation or private room, at budget price. Travelers should also be able to access common areas and communal facilities.
There are number of aspects to consider when you want to manage a hostel, these include the day to day running of a hostel, marketing your hostel and awareness of your competition. Here we will discuss issues relating to the day to day running of a hostel.
Security is probably the biggest issue to address when managing your hostel. A hostel with a poor reputation with security is not a hostel which is going to last long in such a competitive market. Rooms and floors need to be secure with safety deposit boxes and luggage storage available for all travelers. If these facilities are available in the reception of a hostel then the reception needs to have double the security. Travelers need to feel that they can leave their belongings in safe hands. This leads us to the necessity of having a 24 hour reception. With flights and travellers able to arrive at any hour of the day, a good hostel will be ready to offer a clean and comfortable bed for anyone. On the flip side if travelers who are leaving late at night need to know that their belongings can be stored safely and that they are able to access them at any time.
24 hour reception
Reception needs to be an inviting place. Staff need to be friendly and knowledgeable of that area. Reception is often the first point of call for travelers so staff need to be able to answer questions. Reception also needs to be a place of knowledge with posters, leaflets brochures – lots of ideas for travelers. Music in reception is also a must but remember to keep it eclectic to meet everybody’s unique tastes. Keep a guestbook or suggestion box at reception for comments and any problems a traveler may have. It is better to hear any grievances first and resolve them before they end up on travel forums. This is also a good way to establish how happy visitors are with staying at your hostel.
Clean and Usable Kitchen
Travelers need a kitchen complete with utensils, washing up facilities and plenty of storage space. If a kitchen isn’t clean, people cannot use it which then raises questions about the cleanliness of the rest of the hostel. Remember that food is a communal activity and helps travelers to meet each other so make this area one that is usable.
A very comfortable bed
Travelers sleep in different beds on a regular basis and so when a good comfortable one comes along they will try to stay in it as long as possible.
Reasonably priced washing facilities
Travelers expect to pay for washing facilities but this doesn’t mean they are happy to spend large amounts on it, remember travelers are often on a budget. Offer travelers the facilities they need at a reasonable cost.
A TV room in a hostel raises a debate. Some argue that television deters people from getting to know each other, others suggest TV is a home comfort that gives people a chance to chill out. Think about who is staying at your hostel. Many hostels with travelers on working visas will have people staying longer term whilst they are working. TV is often a relaxing evening activity for people after work. In poor weather, movie days or nights can be a really popular activity. Think about how often people talk about what’s on or what’s happened on TV, does it really deter people from communicating with each other.
WIFI is now essential in a hostel. Travelers are not the same as they once were. Laptops are now an important item to travel with and WIFI is expected. For those without laptops a hostel needs to provide easy internet access with facilities to skype, upload pictures and burn to cd and download music to iPods and mp3 players. These are essentials for travelers now so a good hostel needs to provide this for them.
In addition to staff being fully capable of suggesting activities to travellers if a hostel can offer day trips to travelers at a budget price it can increase its chance of extended stays and positive word of mouth. Remember that sometimes travelers are only around for a few days and so need to fit in as much as possible in only a short space of time. Offer them the chance to see the sights but without the hassle of finding out about and booking them themselves.
Many travelers and backpackers like to relax in the evenings and meet some of their fellow travelers and like minded people. Offering evening activities is a good way to make travellers feel comfortable to meet others. However, remember to assess who your visitors are. If an activity isn’t popular think about why that is. Also, remember that travelers now come in all different shapes and sizes with lots of different interests. Evening activities need to reflect the demographic within your hostel.
Smoking and Drinking
Hostels should be non-smoking with areas for smokers to go. Drinking in the hostel is another debatable subject. If you are a dry hostel you need to offer another alternative such as an in house bar, with reasonably priced drinks, remembering that travelers are often on a budget. If you allow drinking in the hostel think about certain guidelines. Not everybody wants to be disturbed by travelers drinking through the night in their dorm room.
Each of these aspects of running a hostel need to be constantly watched. As it was said previously the hostel and traveler market now operated on a huge scale and reputation counts for large part of a hostel’s marketing. Don’t offer or advertise something you can’t achieve and take the time, or ask staff, to speak to visitors and travelers. Be interactive so that you can get feedback and gauge an idea as to the different kinds of travelers your hostel attracts.