If you run a hostel, and you feel that you never have enough time, you may want to consider some new tools to streamline hostel management and aimprove your marketing strategies.
Receiving bookings from channels and writing them down manually on a notebook or on an Excel sheet is very old school. Old school isn’t always a bad thing, but errors and wasting time are definitely bad. No one likes arriving at a hotel or hostel where you booked a bed and learned that it is overbooked. Manual methods of tracking bookings take lots of time to maintain and result in errors far too frequently.
To solve this, the best option we have found is MyAllocator. If you've never heard about this channel manager, you'll love it. Paying a fixed-cost per month, you'll be able to coordinate bed and room availability automatically in all booking channels you work with (HostelWorld, HostelBookers, Booking.com, etc.)
If you've already started to use MyAllocator, BananaDesk will integrate this into an easy-to-use property management system. With BananaDesk you can see all your bookings on a calendar and bookings coming from channels will appear there automatically and with all guest information. Besides, just looking at the calendar, you will be able to know the payment and reservation status of the guest and to establish different seasons with different room rates. What is more, as manager of a hostel, you can create different accounts for each of your staff members and give them different permissions. Stated briefly: all you need to manage your hostel efficiently, in one place.
Social Networks are essential to promote your hostel and, therefore, to receive bookings. Nowadays, lots of hostels and hotels are using social networks, but some still don't. In any case, you don’t want this form of promotion to suck up too much of your time.
So to help you manage your social media efficiently, it is very useful to use tools like Hootsuite. This dashboard will help you schedule posts and tweets. This way, your profiles will never be empty. But be careful and don't lose sight of the fact that you have to produce "hot news" for Social Media. However, Hootsuite will allow you to have some scheduled posts and to mix them with the news. With this tool, you can produce content when you have time, and then schedule publishing when you want.
Getting to know what happens "behind the scenes" of your hostel is very important. The same is true for your website. Imagine if you couldn’t see when, where or who was in your hostel. That’s what your website is like without an analytics service. You should know how people arrived to your website, at what time, where they are from, what pages they spent time on, etc. This valuable information might help guide you in where you should spend your marketing budget. It will also be useful in correcting any problems with navigation on your website.
There are several tools to get this kind of information, but for us Google Analytics is intuitive and easy-to-use. And something else: it's free. ;)
As a hostel owner or manager, you know how important customer reviews can be. Travelers often choose your hostel or another nearby because of online reviews. For this reason, it is essential that you know who is talking about your hostel and where. No matter if reviews are positive or negative, you should join the conversation. But we know there are many websites that contain hostel reviews, and you cannot visit all of them every day to see if someone said something about your hostel. That just isn’t practical! Instead, use a tool that alerts you when your hostel's name appears somewhere on the Internet. And this tool is Google Alerts. Just enter some basic information about which mentions you want to be alerted of and start receiving these alerts by e-mail!
We have no doubt you have news to tell about your hostel. Promotions, events, blog posts (we've already told you about why your hostel needs a blog) and fun photos from guests should be shared. In addition to your social networks, spread your news by emailing a newsletter. And to do it, you don't have to be an "html expert" or to spend money on sending massive bulk e-mails: you can use MailChimp. With this tool you can use your customer database, segment it, send different e-mails according to subscribers' language preference, and design and create your own newsletters. And, as if this were not enough, Mailchimp will tell you how many people open your e-mails.
Just as useful as Google Analytics and Facebook analytics (which we strongly recommend), you can also try SocialBro, an excellent tool to measure your performance on Twitter and to get to know your audience better.
SocialBro offers valuable information and statistics regarding followers' interests, interactions, best timetables to tweet and more.
If you are not using any of these tools yet, you'd better get started. And if you use any others we didn't mention here, let us know!