As members of the hostel industry, we all know that starting a hostel business is not easy, but it can be rewarding. You decided to open your hostel, analyzing the options and picking a hostel as the best lodging business model. Then, you picked a location, built it out and set up your rooms. And last, you opened up for business! But customers are not flocking to your door! What's going on?
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 saying it — social networks are important an important part of your marketing toolkit. People make a lot of travel arrangements / decisions by word of mouth, and social network are how advice and ideas travel get around 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. Pinterest and Foursquare have some advantages regarding mobile and planning.
Bad Ranking on Google Search Results
Think like a traveler or backpacker rather than as a hostelier for a second. What would be the first thing you do if you were looking for a place to stay?
Of course! You google it! But are you really going to click through to the fourth page of search results? No chance. So when you're maintaining your website, check out our advice on Hostel SEO and how to improve your search rankings on Google.
No Way For Guests to Book Direct
Let's be honest: Booking by phone or e-mail is not the norm anymore. Your future guests expect to use the Internet for everything. And you don't have to leave this up to hostel OTAs and other booking channels. Get a Booking Engine on your website, on your Facebook page and anywhere else guests might be booking.
BananaDesk has a Booking Engine that allows you to take bookings directly on your website, or your Facebook page. It's designed for mobile and tablet, so guests get a great experience wherever they are.
You're Not Available To Book Online
Even with a Booking Engine, you still need visibility on booking channels. Updating availability across all your booking channels can be time consuming and error prone though. That's actually why we built BananaDesk :). We recommend that you use a Front Desk Platform, like BananaDesk, to help you manage your business and seamlessly sync availability and rates from your front desk to all your channels in real time.
Now once you build out all of this, they will come! Think of anything else we left out? Please add it in the comments!