Income is the bottom line to any business plan. Secondary is the story that led you there.
Here’s the story.
Hostels stand out in a world that’s becoming more transactional. The unique difference is community.
And community is an increasing commodity as the digital age continues to glue us to our screen addiction.
This guide is about realizing the hostel’s ‘story’ into a business perspective. It will commoditize the unique business trend found with hostels. Here is the outline for the youth hostel business plan:
- Hostel Marketing to Students, Backpackers, and Travelers
- Planning a Hostel Website for Promotion
- Reservation and Accounting Tools
- Setting Up a Hostel (from hostel beds to business incorporation)
A hostel business has two options to capitalize from the current market trend.
The first is traditional through bringing more reservations and building other verticals such as having a tour service.
The second is making use of the digital space. Which has the potential to be more substantial of service than the traditional. For example, let’s say your specific hostel has an environmentally-friendly ethos, a website can be used as a way to brand this ethos into sellable physical products, etc.
More can be found about this in the free email guide to 14 Steps to Diversify Hostel Income in the Digital Space. This is limited, if there is no link, please check back on the first of next month.*
*It is currently Wednesday, and I’m writing this before I go into my other job in IT. I write this to say my Inbox is filled with Unread Emails. There are constraints to my time, thus why the link may not be there. It should still be scheduled around the first of every month, so I can have a routine.
Regardless, this guide will also touch on the second use to capitalize on your hostel.
Let’s begin with marketing your hostel.
Hostel Marketing to Students, Backpackers, and Travelers
Twenty years ago, it was common to find ads and brochures that would describe a product people may be interested in buying.
If you wanted to sell it, it would take manual effort in bringing awareness to people and friends you knew.
The more affluent and bigger your group, the more successful you would be in selling that product.
This is called network marketing.
Sure it worked twenty years ago, and it also worked twenty years before that.
Your youth hostel business plan will include these tried and true methods. But, it should only begin there.
In this traditional instance, your product (to promote) is a reservation to your hostel. Your network, on the other hand, includes local traveler businesses such as tour guide companies, student retreat centers, and the like. More on this later.
The next reach beyond your network is through the digital space. This potentially has a greater impact due to scale, outreach diversity, and niche- traveling students, families, medical students, families with teenagers, etc.
Exploring the digital space is essential, as, in today’s world, this is the space that counts the most in the marketing arena.
Making use of your presence in your physical and digital community can help to bolster your thorough hostel business plan from steadily progressing to continuously exceeding your expectations. Diving into the Hostel Digital Marketing sphere is essential to your success.
In accomplishing the presence you desire to create, you will need to thoroughly develop a hostel marketing plan to attract students (and other youth) to your youth hostel.
Network marketing is an essential component of marketing your youth hostel. Without taking this step, your hostel will not reach the elevated level in which you seek.
How do you advertise a hostel? Both traditional and non-traditional methods should be used to advertise a hostel. Be sure to engage in physical connections within your local community as well as consistent and professional advertisement in the digital sphere. Youth hostels should include a strong presence on social media in their Digital Marketing Plan.
To begin planning for the marketing aspect of your Youth Hostel Business Plan, you will certainly want to take a look at the network marketing opportunities available to you. To ensure success, tap into your physical and digital network for marketing your youth hostel.
Tapping into a Physical Network for Marketing Your Youth Hostel
This is where you will need to start.
Tapping into a physical network for marketing your youth hostel is not overly complicated. This simply means that you will use your local resources to enhance your Youth Hostel Business Plan as well as bolster your community’s local businesses. This is a win-win situation for both you and other local business owners.
To do this, there are a few key components to include. First, you will compile a list of local businesses that could make a good match. Both of your businesses should have something in common- be it your mission, passion, type of client, etc. Create a list that is diverse in experience but aligns well with what you (and, thus, your youth hostel) will stand for.
Next, get the word going to other travel businesses in town that you have a plan to open a youth hostel.
Make sure you give value to these businesses. For example:
- For the first hostel season, a local business’s customers can receive a 20% discount to your hostel.
- Your hostel will promote their business as a “local highlight”. Travelers today are motivated by local experiences. (Ex. Promise to make your customer aware of an amazing spiritual experience at the local yoga retreat.)
- If your hostel has an upsell with in-house tour guides, ensure that guides will stop by supportive local businesses.
In exchange for adding value, you can, in turn, rely on these businesses to spread the word about your hostel. It will help if you provide expectations to the local businesses so that they know what you are looking for. Especially if they are unfamiliar with this context or marketing setup, providing them with an example (as listed above) can help each business (your hostel and their business) to benefit reciprocally.
This is considered a network marketing sphere of influence. It works particularly well as the desire for “local” experiences is steadily increasing- especially by younger travelers. By associating yourself with local businesses, you will add value to your local community’s commerce and simultaneously pique the interest of young travelers looking to “live like a local” for a few days or a week. Including these experiences as community offerings through your hostel is another perk, but we will get more into that later.
Tapping into a Digital Network for Marketing Your Youth Hostel
Along with tapping into your physical network for marketing your youth hostel, you will need to tap into the digital network made available by you and your community as well as your guest’s. The digital network available to you includes your hostel’s professional website, promotion on other local businesses’ websites, and your presence on social media.
The digital realm deserves high attention and investment of time, money, and energy as most of your guests will come from outside of your local community. That is one of the main points of travel, right? Using this to your advantage can heighten the success of your youth hostel by far.
Consider this: young travelers are less concerned about buying large houses to show to their neighbors. Instead, this generation (compared to previous generations) has the capacity to “show off” their experiences.
Not only are the travel experiences rewarding in themselves, but the likes received on photos that these travelers share on their social media platforms also offer a heightened sense of gratification. People might not speak about what a nice yard they have, but the likes and comments on their travel photos will rack up.
Use this to your benefit. You can tap into the youth hostel market by enticing your guests to share their top-notch experience at our hostel on their personal Instagram account. You will often find that students who are traveling are participating in programs with several other new friends. Tapping into this digital network can be huge.
For example, consider a study abroad program from the United States that sends 25 students to live in a small Spanish town. On weekends, the students do not have classes. So, they often opt to travel out of the country to see what the rest of Europe (or Spain) has to offer.
Perhaps these trips are self-guided, though. Their program leaders have done their due diligence in showing them a few of the ropes, and they begin to independently navigate travel across the continent.
Let’s say two of these students decide to visit your hostel in a popular destination. They share (on their social media platforms) about their incredible stay at your hostel. A popular tourist destination shot paired with a photo-op at your hostel and link to your hostel’s location prompts other students to explore your page.
Then, another set of students decides to visit your city. They ask the pair from their program about their stay and if they would recommend it. “It looked awesome on your Instagram.” If these students pass along the word that your hostel was a great experience, then there you go.
In this direct digital network marketing, your guests see your hostel from student to student. These students know each other, so spreading the word is easy. However, if this setup is not possible for all of your guests, then it is important to remember the “legacy” left by your youth guests.
The promotion of your hostel on social media is still incredibly important- even if the original post remains anonymous or unknown to the next guest. If a student is looking to see what kind of experience they can gain from your hostel, they will certainly look for reviews and photos before booking.
Guide the Direction of Your Network
As positive reviews and word get out about the experience at your hostel, more guests are going to book their stay. It is important that you begin to shape the direction of your network presence, too, instead of just relying on others to post for you.
How do you network market? To use network marketing to your advantage, you will need to tap into the physical and digital networks that you are naturally a part of. Then, find a few people with similar interests and invite them along your journey of success. Eventually, you will create a network with third-degree and beyond connections all on the same mission.
Help to shape the digital presence of your youth hostel by guiding the direction that it will go. You can do this in a variety of ways from creating photo-ops with hashtags, asking guests to tag your hostel in their photos, and providing incentives for positive reviews and feedback.
This can even tie directly back into your physical network. Is there a local restaurant willing to partner with your hostel? Partner with this restaurant to offer a 15% off coupon or a “drink on the hostel” ticket for a positive review with photos left on your youth hostel’s website and social media platform.
How to Attract Students to Your Hostel
Constructing your Youth Hostel Business Plan has to be taken seriously if you ever aim to achieve success in your hostel business. Who you market yourself to and what you choose to market will change the dynamic of your hostel entirely.
How do you attract students to your hostel? First, engage in traditional hostel marketing ideas like registration with online booking sites and having an up-to-date website. Then, maintain a relevant social media presence, community building opportunities (in the hostel and on excursions), and provide a few unique (and free) amenities.
Of course, the type of student, and guest in general, that you attract will depend on your marketing as well as the environment you create. Building a physical and digital network is critical. However, targeting a specific audience- students- takes precision and a well-thought-out hostel marketing plan. So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at a few strategies on how to attract students to your hostel business.
Traditional Hostel Marketing Strategies
As mentioned above, it is important to engage in traditional strategies to attract students to your hostel. Before you are able to attract a niche population, you need to be able to attract anyone. This starts in two main ways: registration with online hostel booking sites and the build of an up-to-date website.
Registration with online hostel booking sites is critical. While you might be able to attract some customers through your direct website, many will not have heard of you. In this regard, they will seek out the best value hostel and compare it with others in the local area.
The nature of a student searching for a hostel to stay at will go something like this:
- Student chooses their destination.
- Student chooses the attractions they would like to see or experience at the destination.
- Student determines their budget for this destination (including lodging, meals, etc.).
- Student visits a standard hostel booking site and reviews hostels in the area.
- Student selects the hostel that is appealing in its aesthetic, price, location, amenities, and community-building opportunities.
Notice how in this example of a common searching method, the student does not take the time to go to individual hostel websites. They might do this before booking yours, but they will likely use the standard hostel booking site (think HostelWorld.com) to narrow down their local search. If your hostel is missing from this list, they may never even make it to your site.
Of course, your hostel needs to include a professional website with well-done search engine optimization. If a potential guest visits your website and sees that it is trashy, then they might assume the same about your hostel. Having an up-to-date website with relevant information- especially concerning your mission and vision for your hostel- can attract people to your space as opposed to another.
A hostel website is a perfect place to begin showing your customers who you are and what your business stands for. Be sure to use a professional to help you create the website if you cannot figure out how to do this on your own, but more on this later. For more information on optimizing your digital presence, be sure to opt-in to this free email.
Create a Professional Digital Presence
Most students are going to be using social media platforms that are photo-heavy. This means that they will be attracted to (or not attracted to) what your hostel allows on its social media and website. This can be used to your advantage greatly.
Not only can you publish your own content, but you can allow others to submit photographs under your influence (hashtags, tagging, etc.) as well. Of course, when allowing others to post on your behalf, you will need to regularly monitor what is associated with your business and remove anything that you do not want.
Create a professional website with quality SEO. Students will want answers to their questions quickly. Waiting for answers is not a pleasant experience that will attract students to your hostel. Instead, make information easy to find and have a quality search engine.
Your website will need to be continuously updated with events that are happening in your hostel/affiliated community. This will show students what all you are involved in and what they can expect to experience by choosing your place to stay.
Additionally, you will need to regularly update your social media accounts. Choose the social media platforms that you are experienced using, or consider outsourcing content management. As this will be a prime way that potential guests will find your hostel, it is important that this information- including media content- is updated regularly.
Another way to optimize your presence on social media is to use a content scheduling system like Tailwind. With this tool, you can schedule posts to appear on platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. Regular content posting will significantly boost your page’s following. Instead of having to post content daily, you can use Tailwind to post it for you. Then, you can consolidate the time that you spend on social media into a once-a-week task instead of a daily one.
Regardless of how you choose to maintain your site’s content, it is important that it appear professional. You can choose to take a free (or inexpensive) photography class online if you want to get these basic skills down. Then, just be sure to monitor your page’s aesthetic to ensure that you are giving off the right “vibe”.
Natural and earth-centered? Consider using preset filters that bring out the orange, brown, and green in your photos. Funky and musical? You can use bright colors and sharp contrasts in your images. Tailor your page’s landing to the aesthetic you want to promote- ideally one that will be attractive to the types of students you are targeting for your hostel.
Offer Local and Community-Building Experiences
One of the main components that set hostels apart from standard hotels is that they offer a community. Solo travelers, or students traveling in small groups, enjoy the act of building community with fellow travelers. Along with that, students are often interested in learning about your local community through local experiences.
In order to attract students to your hostel, you need to provide them with local and community building experiences. Starting with local experiences, you can connect with your local network. Include tours that stop at a favorite local coffee shop and encourage your guests to support local businesses.
Include a restaurant outing and a reservation that is designated for your hostel guests. Organize a bar crawl to show students the favorite local bars in your area. Whatever you do, be sure to positively promote and support your community by encouraging responsible and fun opportunities for your guests to live (and act) like locals.
Show your hostel guests how to respectfully appreciate local religious and spiritual practices and spaces like cathedrals and temples. Use a guide that gives advice for appropriate dress and can explain these landmarks and their influence on your local community.
On these local experiences, students will enjoy participating in the local culture. Rather than going mainstream, students can boast about their authentic experience in your city, in part, due to your hostel’s recommendations. Your city’s local businesses will also be supported, which is great for the local economy.
Along with these local experiences, be sure to offer community-building opportunities in your hostel, too. This can include a bar or lounge area that is welcoming. Students can get to know one another around your game tables or with a drink at your bar. Students, especially those traveling solo or in pairs, will appreciate the opportunity to share their experiences with others along their journey.
Provide Different Style Room Options
On a less complex idea, it is important to consider offering different styles of rooms (at appropriate rates). Some students might only be comfortable in private rooms or rooms with 2-3 people and will be willing to pay this price.
Others will be okay in a community room but will prefer a gender distinction. Then, others might be fine with a communal space that does not distinguish between male and female. If you want to attract students, be sure to offer a variety that they will be comfortable with and willing to pay for.
Include Cost-Effective Amenities that Students Want
Including amenities to attract students to your hostel will look different than what hotels generally do to attract their average guest. Prioritize what students value most to attract this crowd. A few options that make your hostel cost-effective and attractive to students include the following:
- Free WiFi (essential for hostel digital marketing, social media posts, WhatsApp for students calling/texting home)
- Free locker storage
- In-house bar/breakfast options (even if additional charge)
- Community room (game table, picnic tables, etc.)
- Bunks with curtains (and lockers) in communal rooms to offer privacy and security
- Free social events calendar
- Late checkout available
- Flexible check-in (or willingness to hold luggage before check-in
- Unique decor (think lounge area that has a prime Instagram aesthetic or even a recommended “photo spot” with previous guests’ photos printed out)
Market How Easily Accessible Your Hostel Is (to Popular Nearby Sites/Locations)
Sometimes you cannot control where you are able to purchase a property. If you are able to choose a location for your hostel, be sure to place it near the most popular attractions. Students will enjoy the ease of walking or taking easy-to-use public transportation to local sites.
If you are not able to choose a location that is nearby popular sites (or even if you are), be sure to include an Access Guide that shows your future guests how long it takes to get from place to place.
You can include common suggestions like, “how long it takes to walk to ABC cafe,” or “it costs 1.50 euro and 15 minutes to get from the nearest metro station to XYZ stop”. This helps students to make the quick and easy decision of choosing your hostel as it has a prime location that is easily accessible to the sites that they want to see.
5 Hostel Marketing Tips
So, this article has discussed how to use network marketing to your advantage in your Youth Hostel Business Plan as well as how to attract students to your hostel. With this insight, you might be concerned about how to narrow this down into manageable pieces.
Use these 5 hostel marketing ideas to successfully market your youth hostel business:
- Maintain a professional digital presence.
- Engage your local and digital community.
- Give generously to travel bloggers with devoted followers.
- Stay true to your vision and values.
- Create opportunities for community and conversation.
There are plenty of strategies for marketing your youth hostel, but these are some of the most important ones to remember. It is imperative that you and your team consistently work together and come up with new ideas that will engage your hostel business as well as your local community.
Maintain a Professional Digital Presence
As discussed above, maintaining your professional digital presence is essential to marketing your youth hostel. This is where and how future guests decide to stay or not to stay at your hostel. If they do not like what they see or cannot easily access the information they are searching for, they will quickly move on to the next place. Keep your professional website and social media accounts up-to-date.
Engage Your Local and Digital Community
When marketing your youth hostel, be sure to engage in your local community. Use network marketing to create a web of local businesses that help and support one another. Engage in your digital community through social media interactions and maintaining up-to-date information. Keeping a positive presence can help to attract positive guests.
Give Generously to Travel Bloggers with Devoted Followers
Invite bloggers who have a consistent travel following to stay at your place for free. Choose a blogger that has a quality amount of followers who are interested in travel rather than an account with a large, but irrelevant following. People follow what they want to see (a meme account for humor, interior decorating for design inspiration, travel accounts for travel recommendations, etc.).
By reaching out to a travel blogger with 4,000 followers and a high interaction rate, you will be more likely to see success when they share about your hostel than if you were to pay someone in the interior design industry (with thousands of followers) to give you a shoutout. Relevance is key, here, so choose wisely and give generously to those who support you.
Stay True to Your Vision and Values
Your vision is what brought you to plan your youth hostel in the first place. Be sure to determine what you and your business will stand for and stand by those values proudly. Students will read authenticity and will be drawn to it. Plus, by staying in line with your vision and values, you will the type of students that you hope to attract to your hostel.
Create Opportunities for Community and Conversation
Not only do students want community-building opportunities, but this is an essential purpose that travel can hold. People travel to gain an appreciation of the world around them, among other reasons. In choosing to foster this opportunity, your guests will have a positive experience in your hostel worthy of sharing with their friends and family. The travel world will be better for it.
Now, let’s shift into how to plan your hostel website for promotion.
Planning Your Website for Promotion
As you begin to prepare your Youth Hostel Business Plan, you will most certainly need to consider how you market yourself on the web. There are many details involved in this phase that you will not want to miss.
How do you plan your website for promotion? This involves a series of well thought out decisions including goal setting, mission defining, audience targeting, and detailed planning. Creating your website includes content, themes, hosting, keywords, and more. Then, monetize your website with affiliate opportunities, a vertical and upsell, and a product.
With this, you will be able to make the website pay for itself (in its upkeep and promotion). It is important to research how to promote your website to your target audience. Without these steps, your site will remain unsearchable, unranked, and limited in its influence to new customers (hostel guests).
Continue reading to learn more about creating and monetizing your hostel website. For more information, be sure to opt-in to the free email guide 14 Steps to Diversify Hostel Income in the Digital Space.
How to Create a Hostel Website
Before you begin working on your digital presence, you will need to understand how a website can help your business to succeed (or not). Having the knowledge of making your website work for you (and not the other way around) is critical in using it as a business tool.
How do you create a hostel website? You will first want to research the content that you need on your site. Then, choose a web hosting platform, find hostel keywords, choose a WordPress (or other) theme, and write/outsource content creation. Create a site that reflects the style of your youth hostel both in the images and content that you include.
Since your youth hostel’s website is the first impression that many of your future guests will get, it is important to get this right. Certainly, you will need to do this right. As mentioned above, not only will you need to place your hostel on a standard hostel booking site, but your personally owned website needs to be aesthetically pleasing, up-to-date, and professional.
Creating a Hostel Website? Research Content First
One thing that many people (who have never created a website before) do not know is how much the content matters. Not only will your website market your branding efforts, but it will provide your future clients with the information they are searching for. And, if it does not, then they will likely not be your future clients.
Content on a website is critical for a few reasons. It helps to inform your viewer, provides answers to questions that may arise, points to information that cannot be found elsewhere, and helps your website to rank higher or become more “searchable”.
Having the right content is just as important as having enough content. To determine what content you need to have on your website in order to make it profitable (and rank) and help your business to succeed is critical. Missing this step can render your efforts practically useless as your website will result on the 36th (or beyond) page of Google searches- a page that no user will ever take the time to make it to.
So, you need to research the content that should go on your hostel website. Be sure to reference other youth hostels to see what the industry standard is. Then, add additional (relevant) content that can help to bolster your site above the competition. If someone searches for a youth hostel in your local area, your site can rank higher on searches yielding a greater likelihood that someone will click on your link.
Additionally, once a potential client makes it to your site, they are going to want to be able to find the information quickly. Using an appropriate design is important, and having the answers to their questions is necessary. Creating a site with irrelevant content can confuse a viewer and cause them to jump ship from your site to your competition’s. Then, because of a poorly designed and limited website, you have lost a potential guest at your youth hostel.
You can also choose to hire someone to create a “hit list” for you with commonly searched-for articles and answers. Another option is enrolling in Income School. This can help you to learn all about creating and monetizing a website to help your youth hostel business to flourish.
Income School will also open you to a community of bloggers and YouTubers who can help you to achieve creating a website that works- as a tool- for you to succeed. Instead of spending hours and hours behind a screen trying to work on your website, you can learn how to make your youth hostel business’s website work for you and spend your time with your hostel guests.
How to Find Hostel Keywords
Another important component of creating your hostel website is using appropriate hostel keywords. This will help your site to rank higher on search engines. Thus, you will see profitable results as you book more guests and can even monetize your website. Of course, maximizing your influence in the digital realm is key here. You can find more on that by opting-in to the free email guide 14 Steps to Diversify Hostel Income in the Digital Space.
Using appropriate keywords, both in your search engine and in the content you create, can help in two main ways: you will create a helpful tool for your viewer, and your site will receive much greater traffic. In creating content for your hostel website, you are not limited to the booking experience of the hostel itself. Instead, think outside of the box and include articles on other subjects.
Viewers can find your website through standard hostel booking sites, direct links, and clicking your link when it appears as a high-ranking link to their search. By adding articles that are relevant to your city and popular destinations in your area, you maximize the opportunity for being found in an indirect search.
For example, if you are creating a business plan for a youth hostel in Paris, then you need to include articles about popular destinations like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and other famous Parisian experiences. Using keywords in these articles related to popularly searched destinations, attractions, travel itineraries, and beyond can help you to see more traffic (and, thus, profits) from your site.
Considering every other hostel in your area will have content related to “Best Hostel to Stay at in XYZ City”, it is best to add additional content that helps search engines to recognize yours as a top result.
To find hostel keywords, you can outsource this task (such as through finding someone involved in the community related to Income School) or you can search for the results yourself.
One way to find keywords for your hostel website is by searching for industry standards. Then, using the Google results that show “people also ask”, you can begin to create a list generated around what popular subjects come up. Begin with destinations, travel topics, popular local tourist attractions, backpacking and tour ideas, and move on.
Hostel WordPress Theme
If you are unfamiliar with hostel web development or hostel web design in the first place, then this might seem like a strange and intimidating venture to embark on. After all, the influence that your website will have on guests choosing to stay (or not stay) at your youth hostel can feel like a pending doom. To relieve some of this pressure, you can use (or hire someone to use) a hostel management system WordPress Theme to create your site.
WordPress Themes work with WordPress to help create a user-friendly website. These are especially helpful for those who have never worked in the world of web development or design. The WordPress Theme acts as a template that you can place all of the information that you hope to use on your site.
Customization is key as you create a site that reflects your vision and mission of your youth hostel. To neglect this in your Youth Hostel Business Plan would be to ensure negative results in your business. However, done well, creating a site that reflects your uniqueness and what your youth hostel has to offer can result in profitable results and happy guests.
There are several different options for hostel WordPress Themes. You can search around for which one you like in terms of style and user-friendliness. These will obviously be very important if you plan to maintain your own site (though you can always outsource this responsibility, too).
A few options like ElegantThemes and StudioPress Themes are incredible places to start. These use drag and drop features that make designing and including the critical components of your site a breeze. StudioPress uses Genesis Framework which is popular in the industry, but you can learn more about that by reviewing a few options.
Instead of spending hours (or hiring someone to spend hours) creating a digitally impressive (but technologically unnecessary) site, you can use these customizable options to get the best of both worlds: professional design at the (inexperienced) touch of a button.
When choosing what type of WordPress Theme to go with for your youth hostel business, you will want to consider a few things. First, you need to know who is going to be designing and managing your website. This is critical as you will need to be confident that this person knows how to work whatever you end up choosing.
Next, you need to consider your style and what that says about your youth hostel business. This is an important piece to include in your Youth Hostel Marketing Plan. The style that you choose for your website should reflect a similar aesthetic that your hostel, itself, reflects.
If you are more focused on socialization and funky music, you can choose a theme that is organized with pops of color or exciting features. If you prefer a sleek, modern feel, then both your hostel and your hostel’s website should reflect this. Whatever speaks to you and influences the direction of your youth hostel and its respective website should become a good reflection of one another.
After choosing who will work your site and what style you would like to go with, you will need to consider the logistics of content inclusion. An average visitor to your website will not spend more than 10-seconds on the initial page if they do not like what they see, and they cannot easily find what they are looking for.
Making the landing page an easy, appealing page is critical for your digital “first impressions”. If this sounds a bit overwhelming, then be sure to opt-in to the free email guide 14 Steps to Diversify Hostel Income in the Digital Space for information more tailored to that arena.
Finally, you will work with the WordPress Theme you select to begin adding in all of the necessary information. Including information like your rate, amenities, room type, location, contact information, and recommended travel (among other information as discussed above) is essential for someone to book their stay at your youth hostel.
Be sure to include your contact information as well as your physical address. This helps your youth hostel to pop up on common search engines and apps like Google Maps. The more easily searchable your youth hostel is, the more likely someone will find it and book their stay with you.
Using professional, fun-filled photos on your site will be attractive to youth who desire to stay at your youth hostel, too. Then, of course, you will choose a WordPress Theme that allows you to connect your site to your social media accounts. From here, your guests (and future guests) can continually follow your youth hostel and dream of their initial visits and returns.
Outsourcing content on your youth hostel’s website could be one of the most lucrative investments you make into the construction of your site. After all, if building a youth hostel website is not your cup of tea in the first place, then outsourcing should be up your alley.
But, even if creating content is something that you find yourself skilled at, it might not be the best use of your time. Hopefully, when you begin to see success in your youth hostel business, you will be so busy with the day-to-day management of your business that you do not have the time for content creation.
These are just two of the many examples of why outsourcing your content can be a great decision. Your time can truly be evaluated for money, and in this industry, creating up-to-date content might just be something that is worth paying someone else to do.
What type of content should you outsource for your website? There is not a limit to what you can outsource for your site. Using an experienced copywriter or a professional company to supply you with appropriate content takes the strain off of you having to do this yourself.
There are really no limits to this. One recommended source of content creation to maintain is a blog that is affiliated with your youth hostel’s site. A blog is a great way to gain loads of traffic onto your site without the direct approach of booking.
Consider this: if you write a blog post about the “Best Breakfast Spots in XYZ City” or “What to Wear in the Summer in XYZ City”, and someone searches for this information, then they have the opportunity to “stumble” upon your main hostel website. However, if the only content on your site pertains to the direct booking information, then this person might not have ever found your site.
People find websites for places to stay in a variety of ways. Some use standard hostel booking services and go along their route picking out places that meet their budget. But others use the recommendations they find scattered throughout the internet. Maintaining a blog with well-thought-out and well-researched content can bring in serious waves of new volume of traffic for your hostel’s website.
To outsource content for your youth hostel’s website, be sure to research what types of content you need to include. Then, create a hitlist of articles to be written for your site. From there, be sure to upload the content regularly and keep the information up-to-date so that search engines will find your site relevant enough to make the top search results.
You can outsource any of the above tasks, too. Specifically for content, though, you can hire copywriters from various spaces (as many work independently), or you can choose to go through a reputable agency. You can even use services like Aweber to craft professional emails to keep subscribers up-to-date. Where you go with this will largely depend on your budget and your willingness to work with contractors.
Some independent contractors and some agencies will have prices and guidelines that might not meet what you are looking for. Be sure to check the reviews of the copywriters you plan to work with if you are outsourcing the content creation.
If you choose an inexpensive source but do not have high standards, you might find yourself proofing the grammatical errors that were made all along the way. Then, instead of saving time by outsourcing the content, you will end up spending more time correcting inaccurate or ill-suited content for your site. Since the content is what will bring (and keep) viewers on your site, getting this step right might be best to leave to an experienced content creator.
Web Hosting for Hostel Websites
Unless you plan on creating your own server and have the skills and capacity to do so, then you are going to need to look into your options for a web host for your hostel website. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of options out there that will make this a simple, efficient, and cost-effective process.
What is web hosting? Web hosts build and maintain servers to host myriads of websites on. As a server is required for maintaining a domain’s presence on the internet, web hosts provide an avenue for their clients to see their sites up and running. Then, when someone searches for a site, their computer will receive the website’s information (data, photos, etc.) from the server that the site is hosted on.
In essence, if you do not have a server (yourself), then you need to seek out a web host that can take care of this technological aspect for your business. Then, your hostel website will be searchable on the internet and all of the information should be accessible to your site visitors.
One of the top web hosting services for hostel websites (and other websites) is Bluehost. This company is one of the largest of its kind and hosts over 2 million sites (domains) that remain live today. This web hosting service is great for hostels because it comes highly rated and is also a host for WordPress sites.
While you can choose to use another type of website, WordPress is extremely common and is almost considered to be the industry standard for hostel websites. This might not always be the case, but its ease of use among other features helps hostel business owners to navigate towards this option when creating their hostel’s website.
When you are choosing a web hosting service for your hostel’s website, be sure to review what types of services they offer, how much their hosting costs, and their reputation. With a company as large as Bluehost, for example, you should not have to worry about the server going down and your site becoming (even temporarily) inaccessible.
Instead, the team that they have will be working to ensure success on their hosting service (aka an operating server) that, in turn, ensures that they get paid for doing their job. This means that you can rely on the company to keep your site live so that you do not experience any difficulties in people searching for and accessing your youth hostel website.
Other Ways to Monetize Your Hostel Website
If you are working hard to ensure success on your hostel website, then you might be considering how to make this time more profitable. Fortunately for you, you can monetize the website in ways other than just getting future guests to make a reservation for a few nights.
How do you monetize your hostel website? Outside of content creation and associated strategies promoting guests to find your hostel and book a stay, you can monetize your hostel website in a few ways. These include using affiliate opportunities, creating a new vertical and upsell, and building a product. You can outsource these tasks for your site’s benefit.
Not only will the bookings – that future guests complete – add value to your site and business as a whole, but these other opportunities allow you to make secondary (and beyond) income streams. Including these in your Youth Hostel Business Plan will take your business to the next level. Be sure to opt-in to the free email guide here that can help you to make the most profitable decisions for your digital presence.
Affiliate opportunities are becoming more and more common on standard sites. By working with other companies that your site visitors might be interested in, you can become an affiliate and get paid to make a digital referral. This is generally pretty simple and only involves including a link to the affiliate site. Then, when your site guest clicks on this link (and generally if they buy a product), you will receive a small profit.
Create a New Vertical and Upsell
Creating a new vertical and upselling are classic business techniques that you can use to expand the capital on your website. Instead of solely focusing on booking, you can include other opportunities within your industry that your hostel guests might be interested in. For example, you could include a “deluxe package” that includes a drink coupon at your in-house bar, or a discounted pass to a tour that is guided by a local company. Expanding your market, especially digitally, can help to make your website profitable.
Building a Product
If you are feeling creative, or someone on your team is, you can build a product that your site visitors can purchase while they are looking at making their reservation. This can be as simple as providing a t-shirt, sticker, or digital printout with a neat logo or inspirational design. Regardless, the goal here is to include another opportunity for your site (and hostel) guests to make a meaningful purchase- one that benefits them and is profitable for you.
Reservation and Accounting Tools
When you get into the fine details of creating your Youth Hostel Business Plan, you will need to make room to choose reservation and accounting tools. There are many to decide from, and the process can seem complicated.
What should you look for in reservation and accounting tools for your hostel? Hostel Management Software can be broken down into three main functions: accounting, booking, and reservations. Pay attention to features like automatic billing, channel management, front and back of house operations, ease of use, customizability, and number of users are permitted for simultaneous use.
You will likely find that competing software programs will offer many of the same features. However, while one might have a great setup for a large hotel with a bar, shop, and casino attached, others might be structured to fit the needs of your 100-bed hostel. To make this easier, let’s talk about what to specifically look for in each of the categories that we have discussed.
Hostel Management Software
If you have never opened your own hostel before, you might not know what to look for with hostel management software. It might all seem the same to you, so you might just look for the cost. There is more to it than the cost and ease of use.
What are the best Hostel Management Software systems to use? Hostel Management Software can be categorized as Hostel Accounting Software (QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Nimble Property), Hostel Booking Software (CloudBeds, Beds24, WebRezPro), and Hostel Reservation Software (CloudBeds, OnlineBookingManager, BananaDesk). Some systems can do all three components effectively.
Each of these systems offers you the ability to manage your guests’ reservations, complete their booking process, and manage your hostel effectively through hostel management system templates. This includes the behind-the-scenes components as well as the ones that you will train your staff to use when they check a guest in. Diving into each category, we can take a further look at what each does and generate a list of the top recommended software systems in each category (though some crossover).
Hostel Accounting Software
Hostel Accounting Software is what will help to keep your finances organized. Not only will you be tracking and logging daily inputs and outputs in terms of expenses, but you will want to see your profitability and any trends that you can find. This will all help with the success of your hostel business in the short-term and the long-term.
After all, keeping track of your finances is one of the most essential functions of any business. Though many do not come into the hostel business with any accounting experience, there are tools to help. Fortunately for you, the creators of these systems recognize that accounting might not be your strong suit.
What Do Hostel Accounting Software Systems Do?
Instead of spending hours upon hours learning the system, Hostel Accounting Software engineers have created user-friendly versions of their software to ease this burden. Though, if you are not skilled at accounting, it is a wise investment to hire someone who can handle the finances of your hostel operation responsibly and effectively. If this is messed up, your business will inevitably fail.
What do Hostel Accounting Software systems do? Hostel Accounting Software systems allow you to receive and input data regarding expenses. They allow you to accept payment and run analytics and trends on your financial data. These digital systems take an old school bookkeeper’s spreadsheet to the next level in elevating your financial success.
Incorporating Hostel Accounting Software into your Youth Hostel Business Plan is an essential function if you want to run a youth hostel business. You have to have some way to keep track of your finances and budget. Otherwise, you will not be able to pay your bills, your guests’ information could be lost or filed incorrectly, and you could see the negative repercussions of mismanaged finances inevitably resulting in a failing business.
Choosing a Hostel Accounting Software System
As you scroll online and sort through various accounting software systems, you will notice that some were created for general business accounting purposes. Then, others were designed specifically for hostels. It is up to you which you choose, but you might find that the ones designated for hostel use provide exactly what you are looking for.
Choosing a Hostel Accounting Software System should be just as much about the system as it is about you using it. If you have a high-tech system that you have significant difficulties learning, then the system will not be a tool for you. You will want to select a system that meets your ability to use it and one that has customer service support for when you are unsure of what to do.
The following are components that you will need to consider when choosing a Hostel Accounting Software System.
- Determine the number of beds (daily reservations) that the software will need to account for. The size of your hostel is going to make a large impact on the type of accounting software that you need. For example, if you are operating a 20-bed hostel, with entirely private or entirely community rooms, this will be far different than your needs for operating a 400-bed hostel. This will go in your Youth Hostel Business Plan, and the hostel operating spreadsheet will look far different.
The number of beds that you have will obviously influence the number of daily reservations that you need to account for. In determining which accounting software system will work best for you, you can figure out how many daily (monthly, yearly) transactions you will need to process.
- Determine the number of users who will need to access the software at the same time. Not only will you need to know how many guests you can house in your hostel, but you will need to determine the number of employees that you will have working for you at any given time. From there, you can choose a software that allows access based on the size and type of access you wish to grant.
You will find that some employees, like your front of house staff, will only need to access portions of the accounting software. While some Hostel Accounting Software systems permit 1-5 users on a basic plan, others allow you to add an unlimited number of users to your system. Instead of relying on a hostel excel sheet, you can choose a software system that creates a more user-friendly version for you and tracks data accordingly.
- Determine the frequency of transactions on the software. The frequency of transactions will inform the capacity size for the accounting software system that you use. As referenced above, the number of beds that you have in your hostel, as well as any in-house perks, will influence this frequency.
Your accounting software needs to be able to maintain up-to-date information on all transactions from bookings that take place overnight to the tour payment that your guest receives from the front desk staff.
- Test the user-friendliness of the software. You could have the most technologically sound accounting software on the planet, but if you are unable to use it because it is not user-friendly (and you are a first-time user), then this “advanced” system becomes a moot point.
Find an accounting software system that is easy for you to use. You might need to undergo some training provided by the company that you are purchasing the system from. And, some companies even offer free trials so that you are able to test out the waters before making the big purchase.
- Decide if you will have additional services besides the initial booking that will need to be incorporated. Many hostels offer different community-building opportunities within their complex which is highly attractive to young travelers. Some of these opportunities include an in-house bar or a tour offered by a residential staff (or a contracted local business person).
With this, you need to find an interface that allows you to process payments and receipts quickly and easily. Using a hostel management system in excel is totally possible, but this can be like using a checkbook and logging your transaction manually. With an Accounting Software System, your information will be housed online, and it will be processed immediately
- Search for software that provides access to analytics and trends within your business. You are going to want to maintain an understanding of what is helping you to succeed and what is holding you back. Having a Hostel Accounting Software system that can show you the analytics and trends of your financial data will help you to see just that. While some systems require you to input data in order to see trends, others will automatically provide you with spreadsheets of your data to review.
If your hostel was incredibly profitable during a certain season, or if certain community events like bar crawls or yoga sessions inspired bookings, then you know to repeat these practices. In the same mindset, if there were downward trends, then you will be able to know what practices you can drop and move on from.
- Compare pricing options based on the size of your hostel and your accounting needs. While it is listed last on this list, price is likely not last on your mind (nor should it be) when looking at which Hostel Accounting Software system to choose.
The pricing options vary greatly from system to system, and there are often pricing variations available within each system, too. For example, you might find that there is a “premium package” available that allows you to expand your services.
In choosing what is right for you, one of the best ways to tell is to do a free trial. Look at services you are able to take advantage of on one level before deciding if you will need more or fewer options. Then, go from there in determining how advanced or simple of a system you will need.
Top 3 Hostel Accounting Software Systems
There are many different accounting systems available today. For starting a hostel, there are three easy-to-use Accounting Software Systems that will take your bookkeeping to the next level. These are QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Nimble Property.
- QuickBooks is a standard accounting software system used across a variety of industries. It is aimed at businesses on the small or medium scale, so this is perfect for most hostels. QuickBooks has a variety of services that can provide you with analytics and trends and other accounting services. Some find that this option is too advanced, though, and are unwilling to pay for this type of system. This option will definitely cover all of your bases.
- FreshBooks is another standard option for accounting services in the hospitality industry. This option is more reasonably priced and has great customization options. One of its most popular features is its billing services that can create invoices for your clients (aka hostel guests). Fortunately, this system has a long trial period, so you can test it out and see if it will work for you.
- Nimble Property is less well-known but is probably the best industry-specific accounting software systems available. Because it was made for hotels and hostels alike, its insights are unique in that they are targeted for items and data that you will almost always want or need. Though it has a brief trial period, you may find that you are sold within a few days of testing it out.
Hostel Booking Software
Hostel Booking Software is what will help your dream of owning and running a hostel turn into a vibrant reality. Without solid booking software, your hostel beds will remain empty, and you will miss out on the vision that you have worked so hard to create.
What Do Hostel Booking Software Systems Do?
If you are confused about what Hostel Booking Software systems do, you are likely not alone. Finding the right selection can be a difficult task if you have never had to do this before. Especially since there are so many options.
So, what do hostel booking software systems do? Hostel Booking Software is used to help fill each hostel bed with an assigned guest. It does this through providing booking services, automatic billing, front-desk functions (check-in, notes, hospitality requests), channel management (for updating your booking on all channels simultaneously), and more.
Using efficient Hostel Booking Software will cause your day-to-day to go from good to great. It will also be what helps you to book more guests with greater ease. By using Hostel Booking Software, you can move away from having to manually update each booking option, and you can simply have it composed in one place.
Choosing a Hostel Booking Software System
Just like with Hostel Accounting Software, Hostel Booking Software can be found through many platforms. You are going to need to sort through a variety of options before you may find the one that is right for you and your hostel. It is important to know what you are looking for by incorporating your goals and needs in your Youth Hostel Business Plan.
In choosing a Hostel Booking Software System, you will need to consider these features that will help to set your Youth Hostel Business up for success:
- The ability to book a bed versus a room and other customization options. Hostels function differently than hotels, so the booking software needs to be able to account for this. In hostels, you will find different options like single beds in shared rooms, private rooms with fewer beds, mixed or split gendered options, etc.
Your booking service needs to be able to accommodate and change prices for each of these options depending on your needs. Finding a Hostel Booking Software system that can do this should not be too hard, but just be sure to pay attention to how this feature is slightly different than your traditional hotel booking system.
Other customization options could include allowing a guest to use a promo/discount/coupon code or choosing to book in their own language (rather than the native language in the area of your hostel). These, and other features, create an ease of use that yields greater booking probabilities.
- Automatic billing. Automatic hostel billing software can also go into the accounting software portion, but, generally, this falls into a Hostel Booking System software feature that you are going to need. Automatic billing means that as soon as someone books their space, they will receive a bill. You can choose if you’d like the payment to process immediately or upon their stay depending on your policies.
- Integrated services. Some Hostel Booking Software systems have integrated services like accounting, property management, housekeeping, and scheduling employees. This is huge for someone who prefers for all of their work to flow from one place. Be sure to review if the system you choose has other integrated services and features.
- Front-Desk Functions (check-in, notes, hospitality needs). Your booking software should tell your front-desk staff person exactly what they need to know when checking a guest in. This should include any special notes, rates, hospitality needs, and guest information. This is also where any payment or contact information would be gathered and processed.
- Exposure to standard booking sites (aka Channel Management). Unless you want to manually review each place that your hostel is listed (think HostelWorld, Booking.com, Trip Advisor, and Social Media Accounts), then you need a Channel Management system. This will operate like a centralized hub that then sends out updates (on rates, availability, etc.) to all of the other channels that you are affiliated with.
You might also want to check for a WordPress plug-in to be able to use this on a WordPress-based site. Additionally, you should check the capabilities of booking directly through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
- Commission-Free Software. Some software systems ask for a commission for all of the bookings that are processed through their software. This is not necessary and can be avoided with a good option. Find a commission-free software so that you are not missing out on a portion of all of your bookings.
- Automatic booking updates and yield management. Your Hostel Booking Software system should automatically update features like availability, prices, and other features that you are able to customize. Additionally, some systems can even send out emails to your guests should any changes arise. Yield management means that the software will adjust prices according to demand to increase profitability for your business.
- Quality customer service that is available 24/7. Since your future youth hostel guests will be able to book around the clock, it is imperative that the hostel booking software you use have customer service available 24/7, too. Be sure to check the system’s customer service operations for details to know what you are paying for.
- Mobile-friendly capabilities. More likely than not, you will manage your bookings and other details on a desktop from your back office. However, if your front of the house staff wants to access this on an iPad or other device, you will want to have an adjustable interface. Plus, if you are checking something on the go, then having mobile-friendly capabilities will be important in your Hostel Booking Software.
Additionally, if your Hostel Booking Software is cloud-based, then you will consistently have easy access. You can log in from anywhere rather than having to be based in one location. Plus, when your information is stored in a cloud, you will not have to worry about IT or server issues.
Top 3 Hostel Booking Software Systems
There are many Hostel Booking Software systems to choose from. To get started with your Youth Hostel, these three options are some of the best: CloudBeds, Beds24, and WebRezPro.
- CloudBeds is one of the most integrated hostel management software systems on the market. It has accounting, booking, reservation, property management, channel management, and more. If you are looking for a system that can do it all, CloudBeds is one of the best in the industry.
- Beds24 is an incredibly easy-to-use system with almost all of the features that you could ask for in a booking system. It is great for front and back of house operations. This system also offers great customization options depending on the size and needs of your youth hostel business.
- WebRezPro is a great system used in the hospitality industry that specializes in booking and reservations. One of the best features is that it allows group bookings, so more than one person can complete their information. This can be incredibly helpful with hostels as you may find that groups want to book all at the same time but could end up in separate locations otherwise. This system is worth checking out.
Hostel Reservation Software
Hostel Reservation Software and Hostel Booking Software might sound similar, but there are a few key differences that will imply a need for both when running your youth hostel. A Hostel Reservation system is specifically linked to the guest’s reservation and will provide your staff with all of the information it needs to make a pleasant stay for your guest.
What Do Hostel Reservation Software Systems Do?
You might be confused as to the difference between this and the booking system, but do not fret. The uniqueness is not incredibly difficult to understand once you begin doing a bit of research.
So, what do hostel reservation software systems do? Hostel Reservation Software is used to integrate the booking services with the guest’s experience during their stay at your hostel. This is done through the provision of accurate information as well as the hostel management’s ability to manually edit and audit the reservations for all of their guests.
As the booking is completed through an online travel agent (OTA), through the company website, or directly through the hostel’s social media platforms, the reservation gets put in place to ensure that a guest’s information is stored and easily accessible. Through this process, a guest arrives, tells the front desk staff their name, and is able to check in.
Choosing a Hostel Reservation Software System
Fortunately, many Hostel Reservation Software Systems are integrated into similar Booking Systems, but it is important to distinguish between the two. This will help you to determine exactly what you need to incorporate into your Youth Hostel Business Plan.
In choosing a Hostel Reservation Software system, consider the following:
- Integration with Channel Management and OTA Listings. Your Hostel Reservation Software needs to be integrated with the Channel Management (see this in the Booking Software). The OTAs that you use will need to be able to receive the booking preferences and send over accurate data that records the reservation made visible to you and your guests.
- Ability to manage rates and availability. Not only do you need to be able to change and modify the rates and availability, but the guests making the reservations need to see when these prices fluctuate. Hostel Reservation Software will make this possible and help your guests to see the value of their purchase.
- Secure software for reservation data. As reservations are generally made with personal contact information, credit or debit card authorizations, and other private data, it is important that the software system you choose is secure. This will protect you from liability as well as your guests from having their data hacked.
- Permits guests to book your hostel regardless of how they find your place. Whether your guest finds you on one of your channels, on your social media, or directly through your website, you want the reservation information to be passed along the same. Be sure to include a Hostel Reservation Software system that can promise the information to be passed along regardless of how your guest finds you.
- Automatic emails for booking acceptance and stay billing receipts. Nothing says “I am ready to travel” like receiving an email that officially confirms your stay at your next hostel. Be sure to look for a Hostel Reservation Software system that confirms the stay and builds the anticipation for your guests. Additionally, automatically sending billing receipts is appreciated for your guests’ records.
Top 3 Hostel Reservation Software Systems
While there are many options for Hostel Reservation Systems, it is important to review which will be the best fit for you and your youth hostel business. Three great choices include CloudBeds, OnlineBookingManager.com, and WebRezPro.
- CloudBeds, as discussed above, is an integrated system that is one of the best in the industry. Review the above description for more details.
- OnlineBookingManager.com is a great reservation software system if you are only operating a single hostel. This has many of the reservation and booking needs that you will find, but it is only going to offer this in a limited capacity. With a small business, this might be exactly what you are looking for.
- WebRezPro specializes in reservations and bookings for the hospitality industry. You will find all that you need through this system for the reservations at a small or medium hostel. Be sure to review the above description for more details.
Setting Up a Hostel (Beds, Owner Salary, Business Incorporation, and More)
So far, we have hit many of the logistical ins and outs of starting a Youth Hostel. Now is when we will get into the nitty-gritty of creating a Youth Hostel Business Plan and what it takes to set up a hostel.
What does setting up a hostel include? To set up your Youth Hostel, you will need to consider business aspects like licensing, restrictions, employee wages, and a business plan. Additionally, you will need a clever name, style, and essentials like bedding, cleaning supplies, and a front desk. Also, include secure storage and for-purchase products.
There are so many different aspects of setting up a hostel. It might seem overwhelming to you, even if your vision for your Youth Hostel is strong. Regardless, it is essential to create a highly structured business plan and gather industry experience beforehand to set up a hostel for success. Let’s dive into learning about the essential components for setting up a hostel.
Legal Aspects Required in Your Youth Hostel Business Plan
Before you can get started with running a business, you will need to take care of all of the legal and operational components to make this possible. Your location will determine a lot of this, as different cities and countries have variable expectations and requirements.
What are the legal components required for starting a youth hostel? Though the legal requirements vary based on location, there are several standard aspects to start a youth hostel. These include a bank/investor-approved business plan, licensing, permits for operation and safety, building and health inspections, employee contracts, and more.
You will find that this list is non-exhaustive, so you need to ensure that a thorough record-keeping system is in place. One of the last things that you want is to find out that your operation is not fulfilling legal requirements. This can cause your entity to close or shut down temporarily (or permanently) leading to loss of profits and business failure.
Bank-Approved Youth Hostel Business Plan
Every business needs a business plan. This includes your Youth Hostel. Your Business plan will be the foundational piece that the core of your hostel relies on to remain afloat. While there are youth hostel business plan templates, you need to create a hostel business proposal that is specific to your entity and your local legal requirements.
A business plan provides you with an avenue to receive investment opportunities as it guarantees profitability. Most banks will not approve a loan to start a business without a bank-approved business plan. Additionally, your business plan will be a thorough guide in how you will manage your hostel including following all of the legal requirements.
Further, your business plan will allow you to think out every aspect of your business. This might be a painstaking task, but it is essential to the flow of your organization. Along with this, it will provide a structured system for your business should anything happen to you. If you were sick, for example, and you were unable to take care of your business for a few weeks or months, you would have a system in place. This would allow someone else to step into your shoes and coordinate all of the necessary business components- at least temporarily. Hopefully, this will not be a concern for you, but if you ever want a few days off, then it should be.
When creating a Youth Hostel Business Plan, be sure to consider a long-term plan as well as your day-to-day operational structure. Many hostel owners burn out by the second year after opening their hostel. Unfortunately, this is often due to unmet expectations and limited profits. However, you should know that you may not see great profitability until the 5-year mark hits.
Because of this, you need to ensure that you are in this for a prolonged period. 5-years is a tough amount of time to not see great profits (though your basic payments including wages should be covered from the start).
Interestingly, it will take you this long (or even longer) to pay off the mortgage of the building. Until you own the building, you will, in essence, be in the negative. Unless you are committed to running your Youth Hostel (or selling it at a profitable rate) for 10+ years, then you might want to reconsider this significant investment of time and resources.
Permits, Licensing, and Restrictions
Depending on the location of your hostel, you will need to file a variety of licensing and operating documents. This important component is non-avoidable as it launches your hostel from a privately-owned structure to a business entity that can accept guests (and payment).
You will need to verify what is required depending on your area. Several standard components for permits, licensing, and restrictions for youth hostels include fire and safety inspections, health inspections, building inspections, property restrictions, food and beverage serving permits, operational permits, and more.
Likely, you will need to register your Youth Hostel Business as a business entity in your local area. There are many options for this, and they will change depending on your federal (and state/local) governance requirements. In the United States, many hostel owners choose to register their hostels as LLCs.
As these vary greatly depending on the country you are in (and the local government), it is important to review what is required in your area. Fortunately for you, you can seek out professional help from a banker or attorney in your area to get you on the right track. Plus, there are several online and other resources to help learn how to manage a hostel, create a business plan, and fulfill the legal requirements for starting a youth hostel.
Business and Legal Resources for Starting a Youth Hostel
In creating your Youth Hostel Business Plan, you do not have to start from scratch. Thousands of others have gone before you in this industry and beyond. Here are a few resources to consider when making your Business Plan:
- PaloAlto Software. PaloAlto Software can be used to get your Business Plan off the ground. This software system includes email management, sales and marketing, business plan samples (that are bank- and investor-approved), and it even connects to QuickBooks for accounting purposes.
- LegalZoom. LegalZoom is an online service that can help you to prepare legal documents without having to hire an attorney or lawyer. This service can help you to create a bullet-proof business plan (and other documentation) to proceed with your business management.
- RocketLawyer. RocketLawyer is another online service that offers affordable legal services. If you need help with a legal requirement such as your business plan, tax questions, or fulfilling legal requirements for starting a hostel in your area, this is the resource for you. Using this service up-front will ensure that legal requirements have been accurately and effectively fulfilled. This increases profitability and decreases legal liability.
- Free Email Guide. If you are wanting to make the most of your business plan, especially including the digital arena, then there are options for you. One of those includes opting-in to this free email guide on 14 Steps to Diversify Hostel Income in the Digital Space. Space is limited on this guide, though, so be sure to register as soon as you are thinking about monetizing your hostel.
Choosing Your Youth Hostel’s Style
During the process of creating your youth hostel business plan, you will likely be considering the styling aspects. These will go into the decisions you make along the way. It helps to have a style or theme to base your marketing and other decisions off of.
How do you choose your youth hostel’s style? Choosing your youth hostel’s style depends on the type of guest you are hoping to attract. Targeting a specific audience will help to maintain a unique hostel that is worth talking about. Your hostel’s style can be reflected in its name, audience, environment, and community culture.
Of course, there are many different styles to choose from. What works best for most hostel owners is to choose a style that they enjoy. If you are more drawn to a modern and sleek appearance, then go in that route. Base all of your decisions around attracting a guest to this vibe. Contrarily, if you gear towards a more earthy, natural aesthetic, select options that fit this accordingly.
Pick a Name for Your Youth Hostel
Certainly, the list is expansive for how to come up with hostel name ideas. You might toss and turn over this selection. But, in reality, coming up with a unique name does not have to be complicated. Once you find a name that works for you, stick with it for at least a week so that it can grow on you. Assuming you are comfortable with this after one week, get feedback from any business partners, finalize the decision and move on.
To gain inspiration for your youth hostel business name, there are a few main places to start. First, consider anything that is unique to your building location. Are you near a lake or valley? What about a local monument or famous street? Next, think about any tourist attractions that will help your hostel to become more searchable. Think about the big attractions on this one.
Then, move onto any style guides or passions that will inform the decisions of the hostel. Love the stars and constellations? Choose a name that can fit this theme, and carry this theme throughout your hostel’s decor and other business components.
Finally, if you are still unsure, think of any colloquial sayings or inside jokes to incorporate. You can have fun explaining your name to guests. They might find the appeal of your “local twist” engaging enough to recommend a friend. Choose a name that is easily searchable, brief, and easy to spell (especially if your hostel’s name is not in a common business language).
Select a Target Audience to Inform Your Decisions
As mentioned, it is easier to select one target audience and to base your decisions off of this than to attempt to please everyone. Especially when working with youth, this generation recognizes attempts at authenticity. Even if someone is not into your sunflower theme, they might appreciate the nature component- or the fact that you picked a theme at all.
For your youth hostel, you will obviously be targeting people in a certain age group. However, this range still has different categories. Consider if you would like to host mainly students, youth under the age of 30 who are no longer in school, traveling workers, blogging nomads, etc.
From here, you can choose a style that melds well into the decor as well as the business decisions based on what will appeal to this specifically targeted audience.
Hostel Employee and Owner Wages
Hostel employee wages and the owner’s salary are going to be some of the most important fixed costs in your operation. Without staff, your hostel cannot function. You might be wondering how large of a cost this is going to be.
How much is a hostel owner’s salary? How much a hostel owner makes depends on the associated fixed and variable costs and revenue of the hostel. The size, location, popularity of the hostel, and number of employees/volunteers will also influence this. Generally, hostel managers make between $45,000-$65,000 with owners receiving a more profitable cut.
These numbers are quite a wide range considering that a hostel owner’s salary can be determined by so many factors. Hostels can be profitable with an effective, well-thought-out business plan, structure, and organization. Additionally, the use of volunteers is a critical aspect of decreasing employee wages while providing a positive experience for hostel volunteers.
When working this number into your business plan, be sure to keep the manager and owner’s salary in this. It is unfair to “not take a salary”- especially as this is an operational necessity. The owner will have personal bills, too. Combine this with fixed costs (rent, employees, utilities), variable costs (supplies, maintenance repairs), and revenue (guest bookings, purchases, other sources of monetization) to gain a more clear picture of your budget.
Designing Your Hostel Space
Now that you have picked a name and a theme, you can begin to think about designing your hostel’s space. This will obviously have to work with the building structure that you have purchased and any surrounding land that you may own.
What are the main spaces to include in a hostel? Hostels vary based on location but generally include similar spaces. You will need to include a welcoming lobby with a check-in desk, employee office(s), common area, and (of course) bathroom and sleeping locations. You can also choose to include a tech room/office, bar, dining area/cafe, kitchen, and more.
So where do you start on these? Again, it is suggested to choose a theme and stick with it. This will help your business plan and design scheme to remain ordered- even if your design itself is more funky and random. At least this “randomness” will have been pre-planned and not appear to your guests as if you are unprofessional.
Included in your hostel lobby should be a welcoming atmosphere and industry standards. The following are suggested for your hostel lobby:
- Welcome sign
- Registration/check-in desk
- Local hotspot recommendations (restaurant menus, coupons, tours, activities, “local favorites”, “staff picks”)
- Signs with common phrases used in your native language
- WiFi password signs
- Registration guide answering commonly asked questions like the WiFi password, local tips, transportation information, etc. (included upon check-in and posted on the walls)
- Employee offices (can be adjacent to the lobby, you will want a private workspace)
Hostel Common Area
The common area can differ from the lobby. Your hostel lobby will include the registration desk whereas the common area is where guests in your hostel community will gather. Include the following in your common area:
- Furniture for community gathering/lounging
- Bar access
- Dining area (even if no breakfast is provided you will want a clean, designated eating space)
- Magazines and reading materials
- Game center (secondhand games and cards are ok)
- Pool or Ping Pong table
- Outdoor/nature access
You will need a bathroom in the lobby, one for employee/staff use, and bathroom/shower rooms included for your guests. Depending on the room style and structure of your hostel, you might have bathrooms included in the guest rooms, or your guests might have to walk down the hall to take their shower.
Either way, a general rule of thumb to consider is 1 toilet/shower for every 8 guests (regardless of gender). Not all guests will be around or want to use the facilities at the same time. However, having to wait to use the bathroom or take a shower when they want to is not the right way to gain positive reviews.
While we are discussing bathrooms, sanitation is key. No matter how welcoming you are and how much you talk to your guests, if your beds and bathrooms are not clean, you will not receive positive reviews. This is the one standard that absolutely must be upheld within your hostel to receive future books, positive reviews, and overall success.
Now we arrive at the most essential component of your hostel: space for your guests to sleep. This is the essence of what they are paying for, though so much more goes into this experience. However, this is where the bulk of your money will be spent initially as well as in material replacement.
There are many different options for hostel bedroom design. You will incorporate your theme into the hostel bedrooms, but the decor does not need to be intense to make an impression. Instead, focus on cleanliness, spacial organization, and security. Your guests will want to know that they (and their belongings) can rest at ease.
If you are wondering how many beds you can fit into your building, consider the spacial awareness that you will need to have. Your guests will need a place to store their luggage next to their beds. Often, backpackers travel light, but they will still have a good bit of “stuff” that can become a big mess in the room if there is not a designated area to open their luggage.
To see profitability in your youth hostel, you need at least 25 beds. The more beds you have, the more guests you can book, and the more income you will see. Filling your beds is what will bring in the profits and pay your bills.
Hostel Bunk Beds
There are many different hostel bunk beds for sale. You will find many different options from simple to deluxe. Consider your space and what will function best to provide security (ex. free locker storage) and privacy (ex. privacy curtains) for your guests. These components matter. Then, think of the ease that your guests will appreciate, like the ability to get a good night’s rest and plug their phones in closeby.
Hostel bunk beds come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These are the core bones of your business, so do not cheap out. Longer lasting, high-quality bedding is essential for your hostel. Here are a few great places to find them:
- SleepTite.ie offers a variety of hostel bunk beds. They include options with lighting, power sources, under-bed lockers, privacy curtains, and more. Additionally, they offer many different designs to fit your space. These beds are high-quality and built to last. You can also use this resource to find other products like mattress pad covers and more to fit your bunk beds.
- BestBunkBeds.co.uk also offers heavy duty bunk beds for your hostel needs. This company is based in London and includes all of the standard features. They also have options for office/work activities and other functions to accommodate various traveler needs.
Hostel Bunk Mattress Toppers/Covers
If sleep is a priority for your hostel (which it should be), then you need to invest in sturdy, quality materials. Your guests will appreciate the extra comfort, and your long-term budget will appreciate the fewer replacements needed.
When it comes to mattress toppers, you cannot go wrong with memory foam. Generally, it is recommended to use a memory foam topper that is at least 2” and up to 4” of padding (depending on the height of the mattress). Remember, your sheets will need to fit these additional heights. Here are a few great options that will keep your beds cool and comfortable:
- Sleep Innovations 4” Dual Layer Gel Memory Foam Mattress
- LUCID 4” Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper- Ventilated Design
- Linenspa 2” Gel Swirl Memory Foam Mattress Topper
When reviewing mattress protective covers, there are several important components to consider. These need to protect against liquids (spilled food, beverages, personal mishaps). They also need to keep bugs out (zippable options are great for this). Hypoallergenic options with long warranties are great for quality and longevity.
Additionally, you will want to find an option that is not loud and crinkly. With lots of guests in the same room, a loud mattress will be sure to wake others and provide an uncomfortable night’s sleep. Find the balance between thin plastic and thicker fluffy ones that retain heat and cause your guests to wake up in a sweat.
Here are some great options for protective mattress toppers (Amazon covers) for your hostel bunk beds:
- Utopia Bedding Bamboo Mattress Protector (this option must dry naturally)
- Edilly Mattress Topper (Cotton)
- Utopia Bedding Zippered Mattress Encasement (WaterProof)
- SafeRest Premium HypoAllergenic WaterProof Mattress Protector (Vinyl-Free)
As a final note for mattress covers, the laundering function is important for their longevity. Many find that improper laundering (drying when they are not supposed to, using too high of heat, bleaching, etc.) ends up ruining the protective aspect. Often, doing this will ruin the waterproof component of your mattress protector.
In choosing a mattress topper/protective cover for your hostel bunk beds, be sure to choose one that you can easily launder in bulk (as there will be lots of beds that are regularly stripped). Plus find one that has a long warranty as this means that the company trusts its product, and if something happens to it, the cost of replacement is not on you.
Additional Items to Include to Welcome Your Hostel Guests
Whether you choose to include these items for free or at a small charge, it is important to keep the following on-hand:
Tubes of toothpaste
- Shampoo/conditioner sets
- Soap – 200 Bars Individually Wrapped
- Tissues – Amazon Branded
- Ear Plugs
You can also use a lost and found box to offer a “borrowing” system for your guests with small items like phone chargers that are frequently left behind from previous guests and can be used by your current ones.
Anything that you can do to make your guests feel welcome- from the design to the professionalism of your company, well-trained staff, or pleasant bonuses- will all be worth the investment in the positive reviews and additional bookings that they will cause through word of mouth marketing.