Backpacker Hostel: How to Get It off the Ground

We all reach a point in our lives where we grow tired of doing the same thing – or working at the same job – and we desperately need a career change. Some of us decide to act on it and open up our own business; while others choose to stay where they are, either because of financial instability or some other personal reasons. So, if you desperately need a career change, but are not sure which road to take; consider opening up a backpacker hostel. 

Backpacker Hostel: How to Get It off the Ground

This sort of move will change your lifestyle. While running a backpacker hostel, you’ll meet a lot of interesting people and get the chance to learn about various cultures and traditions without having to move an inch from your own town. If this sound appealing to you, let’s see what are some basic steps you’ll need to take before you actually get your hostel up and running.

Youth Hostel in Dessau, Germany,Backpacker Hostel
Youth Hostel in Dessau, Germany: Photo on Flickr by Thomas Kohler / CC BY 2.0

Determine your target market

Knowing up front which type of hostel you want to open up is extremely important. Even though it might not seem like such a big deal; you need to try to determine what sort of clientele you will be attracting.

For instance, a youth hotel is an interesting option, but it is a lot of work. Youth hotels usually house only minors (people younger than 18) which can bring some complications. If you decide to go with this option; you’ll need to make sure that there’s no underage drinking; and you should probably opt for having separate sex dorms to avoid any inconveniences. On the other hand, a backpacker hostel still usually attracts a younger crowd; but those people are usually 18+ so you won’t have to have such strict rules and regulations.

Backpacker Hostel,singapore,
Backpacker Hostel in Singapore: Photo on Flickr by Aleksandr Zykov / CC BY-SA 2.0

Create a business plan

As with any other business, you’ll need to create a detailed business plan that will help you run your business more smoothly. This plan will need to contain your initial startup budget, renovation and remodel budget, as well as additional funds for maintenance later on. You should also check with your local authorities whether you can obtain a permit to legally run a hostel in the area you want to open up a hostel in.

Next, try to determine upfront your income and expenses and see if you’ll need any help (financial or otherwise) with running your business. Also, keep in mind that if your hostel is located in the tourist hotspot, you’ll need to have an additional plan of action during festivals or special celebrations because the number of guests can easily double during those times.

Craft a unique selling point

Hostels where the owner is engaged and interested in the overall atmosphere and guest satisfaction are usually the ones that do best on the market. Since the price itself varies very little among hostels; people most commonly look for some other factors when deciding where to book.

Some hostels stand out from the crowd by having a specific theme, while others offer free internet connection. Your USP, for example, can be the use of commercial storage solutions where your guests can leave their belongings without worrying about their safety. It doesn’t really matter what you decide to go with; as long as you find that something that will make staying in your hostel a truly unique experience.

Backpacker Hostel,Mahatu Hostel, Leticia, Colombia
Mahatu Hostel, Leticia, Colombia: Photo on Flickr by Eli Duke / CC BY-SA 2.0

Promote your business

Finally, you’ll have to market your new business. You should definitely create a website for your hostel because more and more people do their bookings online. Also, make sure your website is responsive, mobile-friendly and that it contains all the necessary information like offered services and prices.

Further, market your hostel in your local newspaper and travel guidebooks. Ask your local convenience stores or gas pumps if you can leave some flyers promoting your hostel on their counters; and inquire with your local travel authority where else can you market your business. Finally, see with your local vehicle rental companies if you can help promote each other’s businesses.

Once you take care of all of these steps, you can move on to actually decorating and furnishing your hostel. Keep in mind that word of mouth recommendations are still one of the leading means of marketing; so do everything in your power to provide your guests with an excellent service; because happy guests will be sure to recommend you to their friends and family which will only bring more work your way.

About Lillian Connors

Lillian is an avid traveler and a passionate writer within this niche. She enjoys sharing her insights with others sharing a travel bug.

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