As members of the hostel industry, we all know that starting a hostel business is not easy, but it can be rewarding. First, you decided to open your hostel, analyzing the options and picking a hostel as the best lodging business model. Then, you selected a location, built it out and set up your rooms. And last, you opened for business. But where are the customers?
Let's suppose everything went smoothly. You found a perfect location, a beautiful building, decorated it nicely, made the beds and then sat down at the front desk to wait for e-mails or phone calls to start flooding in. While some travelers will find you eventually, you aren’t Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams. Just because you built it, they don’t have to come.
So here are some ideas that may be contributing to lack of bookings or at least not as high of an occupancy rate as you would like.
You're not using Social Networks
This may be one of your main issues! We've already told you—and we'll keep on telling you—how important social networks are as a marketing tool, due to their far-reach and low cost. People make a lot of travel arrangements from word of mouth, and social network are how such advice and ideas travel move in today’s world. So what could be better than having a presence where your customers are already talking with their friends about their travel experiences?
If your hostel doesn’t have a social profile, start with Facebook. Social networks take some time commitment, so if you can’t devote the time, just start with one or two networks. Pinterest is an excellent option to get bookings and Foursquare has many advantages regarding mobile stuff. Google+ may help you with SEO. And of course, Twitter is on the podium too, as it is an excellent marketing and communication tool.
Your hostel is not well-ranked in Google
Think as a traveler or backpacker rather than as a hostelier. What would be the first thing to do if you were looking for a place to stay? Of course! You “google” it! But are you really going to click to the fourth page of search results as you are looking for hostels in a particular city? No way! So when uploading and maintaining your page, please take this advicein order to improve your search rankings. in order to improve your search rankings.
There's no booking widget on your website
Let’s be honest… booking by phone or e-mail are old school. Your potential guests expect to use the Internet for everything. And you don’t have to leave this up to hostel OTAs and other booking channels. Have a booking widget on your website.
You're not using a channel manager
Even with a booking widget, you need visibility on booking channels; however, coordinating bed and room availability across booking channels is a nightmare. We strongly recommend that you use a Channel Manager, which manages the different channels you work with and allows you to have availability and rates updated on all channels in real time. With BananaDesk, we have partnered with MyAllocator’s channel management tool.
Now once you build out all of this, they will come! Think of anything else we left out? Please add it in the comments!