Top 5, No Fluff, Marketing Strategies for Hostels
Thinking of your hostel as a business is mad important. Otherwise, all you have is passion without drive. Adding drive to your passion means your hostel is going to last for the long haul. And drive comes from treating it like a business, so you will need to attract customers! To do that, you need to turn your focus to the fancy pantsy term of, MARKETING. It is super duper important. Without further adieu…
Effective marketing allows the effort placed to bring maximum returns. In marketing hostels, there are many strategies that can be implemented that provide value. But the value provided is often not maximized to the input effort. Below lists the most effective marketing strategies for hostels:
- Website Content Outreach – Most Effective, By Far
- Registering to Online Travel Agents – Such as hostelworld.com and hostelbookers.com
- Expanded Services – Such as being digital nomad friendly, and events
- Networking – Connect with local businesses and industry influencers
- Social Media Friendly – Create photo op opportunities
All of these strategies are effective. I bet you are already brainstorming different ideas for the categories mentioned. That’s good; I’d suggest organizing those ideas into steps next. For instance, you want to be able to have an order for your marketing. The longer-term (~3 months and on) marketing strategies are what you should be aiming for, as the short term strategies are noticeably capped. But you want to make quick wins when you’re first starting out.
I want to categories the quick wins for your hostel marketing strategy as follows:
- Registering to Online Travel Agents
- Expanded Services
- Social Media Friendly
These are commonly the most focused out of all hostel marketing strategies. There’s a good reason for that – you are able to focus on the quick small wins to attract travelers to your hostel.
Keep in mind, these quick wins are also quickly capped in how many eyes you are able to make your hostel aware of. It can be enough for some. In the long term strategy I’ll later mention, you will have the edge most hostels do not have.
Before we get to the edge, let’s discuss the first quick wins for your strategy.
Registering to Online Travel Agents
This is pretty self-explanatory.
You go to eBay or Amazon if you’re looking to sell a used computer or the like. They are your online agents to sell consumer goods.
In the same line of think, you will need to go to an online agent to sell or market your hostel. These websites act as the intermediary between you and the consumer, or in this case travelers.
A lot of times travelers have already established in their minds that Online Travel Agents have credibility, they’d be more likely to process payments and book in advance with these credible websites.
Registering to these platforms can have a simple online wizard that walks you through a step by step process to register your hostel onto the platform. Other times you may want to strike a deal and manually contact the travel agent.
Some credible travel agents you can begin your booking process are:
This basically means your hostel is not just a place to stay, it is also a place where people can experience the vibe of your local city.
You can be creative here.
But some ideas are:
- Digital Nomad Friendly – Have good internet and desk spaces. This also gives the opportunity to expand to people who are not spending a night in the area; you can request a cover charge for using these desk spaces and internet.
- Hosting Events – There is a huge variety of events you can choose to have. From having shared dinners to a pub crawl after party. This has been one of my favorite events in hostels I’ve stayed at as it allowed me to be social.
- Bike Riding Tours – You can have a bike rental service with an optional tour.
Okay, this requires some upkeep as you want to keep the relationships that you make. Keep in mind cordiality is as important as running a business. A good practice is to be generous before you have an ask.
Local businesses that cater to travelers are the ones to connect with. If you want to build a relationship with a yoga retreat business, you may consider providing their customers will receive a 15% discount if they stay at your hostel.
This gives the yoga retreat business a way to add value to their customer, which is good for them; and it allows you to build a quick way to brand your hostel business.
Additionally, influencers can bring traction to your hostels. These influencers can vary from bloggers to Youtubers and Instagrammers. Make sure that they are in your industry. For instance, they have the same ethos, and it helps if they are more regional.
Social Media Friendly
Did you even go if you didn’t post it on Insta?
This is usually a statement mentioned in good humor for most millennials. But it is actually true for all generations who travel. Who doesn’t want a good opportunity for a photoshoot?
Travelers eventually take a few photos. Why not have those photos be at your hostel?
That gives you free promotion!
Stage some areas in your hostel specifically for photo opportunities. In these areas provide a hashtag with the name of your hostel and also request to tag the hostel.
Instagram travelers will naturally gravitate towards these areas in order to share their experience.
With events you have, take photos of your travelers together and request they tag themselves from the hostel’s Instagram page.
The Long Term Edge
Quick wins have been discussed which can be implemented pretty quickly, I would say less than 3 months.
For your longer-term hostel marketing strategy, it’s essential to build a content-based website.
If you started now, it will take about 3 months before it starts being effective. But when it’s effective, it is effective. By far, this strategy is the most successful in being able to reach the most people. Get ready for NO VACANCY signs!
You’ve probably taken a course in high school in which you had to learn about a theory on the subject before application. An example of this would be learning about the material, and then doing homework; another would be learning a chemistry lesson and then doing a lab for it.
Before I discuss the website template of your hostel business, you will first need to understand some basic theory in why this is the best strategy.
Website Content Outreach Theory
Outreach is not what you think it is. In this case, you will be creating or ordering articles from writers to publish articles that are based on search intent. More specifically, traveler search intent.
When a traveler goes online to look for hostels, they have specific phrases they type in. Google then shows them articles from websites based on the Google Algorithm.
This algorithm usually matches the best article based on the searcher’s intent. This is called ranking for articles.
What does this mean for you? If your website has an article that is based on a searcher’s intent, and it is better than other articles, you will rank in Google. Ranking in Google allows the searcher to see your article and bring awareness to your website.
These articles serve as a sales funnel that allows you to convert traveler’s searches into customers for your hostel. The order may look like this: traveler searches Google for hostels in X place, your article’s content is based on hostels in X place –> traveler clicks your article and reads why your hostel is the best –> your article funnels the traveler to a booking platform to schedule the dates they want to stay at your hostel.
As with any business relationship, you want to give and give before you request an ask. In the same line, your article will need to provide value to the reader. In this case, exhaust their curiosity for hostels in X place with your articles using entertaining content, pictures, etc.
Website Content Application
To find what travelers are searching, come up with ideas they may search.
- Best hostels in X
- Tour guides in X
- Bike rentals in X
- Bar crawl in X
Then perform a search for these articles.
Click on the top 3 results. Do some research and find out how your article can be better than these articles.
You can hire writers or you can write these articles yourself. If you’re hiring a writer, here’s a template you can use:
Please find the top 3 results from Google search on: 'Best hostels in X' Based on these results, write an article that includes: - A longer article length than the top 3 results - Add X number of royalty free photos found from pexels.com - And add two or three relevant Youtube videos associated to your article No fluff should be found in these articles. I will ask for revisions if so. Thank you
You can hire writers from websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and my personal favorite Writer Access.
Once the article is written, you can run it through Grammarly for grammar checks and plagiarism.
Then you can upload it to your website and publish it.
It will need time to bake, which usually takes about 3 months for newer websites.
Once it does, you will start seeing gradual and then spiking traffic to your website’s articles you can use to funnel into booking.
The more articles, the more funnels you can create for your hostel business.