The home for BootsnAll.com members - talk with other travelers, ask questions that don't fit anywhere else and learn more about the BnA community.

Starting a hostel

Bush Trekker

User avatar
Street Food Connoisseur
 
Posts: 686
Joined: December 20th, 2006

Share on Orkut

This thread doesn't have any tags.

You can still check out the tag index though.

What are tags?
  • Added on: March 28th, 2007
OK. Just thought I would throw out one last peice of advice on those who want to start a hostel. I will not go into details but I had to evict two people today. I endured foul language and implied threats. They were both younger, stonger, and much larger than I am. You have to face these kinds of situations calmly and without losing your temper. This is the rare exception to most hosteler but you must be prepared for it.
__________________________
I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Felix the Hat

User avatar
Extra Pages in Passport
 
Posts: 3215
Joined: June 17th, 2002
Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: March 29th, 2007
I'm surprised no one has mentioned that you definitely need to know the visa and property situation. In many countries, you need a local partner to open a business, and almost nowhere can you do it on a tourist visa.

travel_tech

User avatar
Knows What a Schengen Visa Is
 
Posts: 364
Joined: December 15th, 2006

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: March 29th, 2007
quote:
Originally posted by bigmaude:
Facinating that so many people have been tossing around the hostel idea. Iv'e been chewing on it a bit myself. My last chick will be out of the nest in 4 years and then I will have some options that I haven't had before. I'm with you, On Your Mark, that Australia would be a great location. I would want to do it someplace besides the U.S. Keep all the great suggestions coming...it just may happen someday...


This thought has crossed my mind too! Especially when I noticed there's only two hostels in Guadeloupe. Oh how Id love to own that third hostel.

BT mentioned one of the biggest mistakes is putting too many beds in one room. One of the hostels Ive booked has 20 beds in one room. Eek How is anyone going to get any sleep, is what Im thinking. lol Luckily, I dont like to sleep alot on my vacations.

joanw

Holds PhD in Packing
 
Posts: 167
Joined: April 6th, 2005

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: March 31st, 2007
I think Dopeyzn said it best 'location, location, location'. Brambles, before you even start thinking about licensing or anything else you have to think of being able to have enough business the whole year to keep the hostel going and making money. In general I think the most important thing is to research and see how desirable Milwaukee is as a travel destination. What will you do during the cold winter months to stay afloat? And most importantly are you trying to do more a hostel for Americans or International travelers? Every point you've made about Milwaukee suits an American traveler rather than an than an international traveler.



International travelers
In general I don't feel Milwauee is a popular tourist destination for international travellers. Not that It couldn't be but America is a big country and if someone is going to backpack it for a month they generally won't have enough time to get up that way. I work at a hostel in Hollywood that's a chain with hostels in San Diego, Vegas, and San Francsisco. I find that hostelers usually follow a certain path. After talking to a million travelers about their travel plans I think in general people either do the East Coast (Boston-New York-Philadelphia-DC-Miami, the West Coast LA-San Diego-Vegas-San Francisco-Seattle-Vancouver, or some sort of tour company across the country like Contiki or Trekk Amerimca where they don't stay in hostels. Sometimes you might get someone that is taking a long roadtrip and they might go throughout Chicago but it's rare. I don't think the average international traveler even knows where Milwaukee is unless they are old enough to remember Laverne and Shirley or have a fascination with serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer. I'm sure Milwaukee is a great city but unless you do some serious marketing I don't think anyone would really go there. Maybe you could network with hostels in Chicago to establish some sort of Midwest path that they could go. A music festival sounds good for the hostel but something that happens once a year won't keep you busy for the rest of the year.

American travelers
In a perfect world I think hostels should be open to all sorts of travelers however speaking from experience unfortunately you encounter way more problems with American travelers. I think Milwaukee being an rather unkown tourist destination for international backpackers you'd have to rely on Americans to keep you in business and probably most would't even be travelers. I don't mean to sound biased to my countrymen but after working at a hostel for 2 years I'd have to say that Americans in American hostels are always the most problems. Every time we've ever had to call the police, had someone OD, someone refuse to leave, trying to sell drugs, some old lady that just got out of a divorce and has nowhere else to go, someone decide to go off her meds and perfom and exotic strip show in the TV room midday, people that like to cut themselves, or just general dificultness it's ALWAYS been an American. I've stayed in many hostels in American and of course there can be cool Americans that too staying there but in general the Americans are a different crowd. Unless you have some sort of strict check in policy you might start getting recovering alcoholics with no life and nowhere else to go, schizophrenics, homeless, people that just got kicked out of their apartments (and usually for good reason like stealing)etc, etc,etc. This will drive out all the international travelers that are looking for a place they can meet other likeminded travelers. You'll get a repuation for letting anyone in and then no one will want to go there.

In theory it sounds fun to go to Milwaukee for a weekend and go the the bars or see a museum but that sounds more catering to American midwesterners who live in the middle of nowhere and Milwaukee is the 'big city' to them and I don't think there's enough of them coming to Milwaukee that would keep you in business consistently. Americans might go travel to Europe or Australia by themselves and stay in hostels but when we travel in our own country we don't really stay in hostels. Some do but from a business perspective there aren't enough to make you money. If you are in college and going to some music festival in general I think the average person would get a motel 6 and cram 10 people in it which would be way less than a hostel and more fun.
Just look at hostelz.com for the reviews on American city hostels like Denver or Houston. Both are big cities and you'd think people would want to go there but their hostels sound terrible because of all the shady locals they let live there.

So think about that and do some reseach, maybe you could do just a summer hostel, I think the Univeristy of Milwaukee or Wisconsin did something like that.

travel_tech

User avatar
Knows What a Schengen Visa Is
 
Posts: 364
Joined: December 15th, 2006

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: March 31st, 2007
^^Yeah, yeah....I think situation would be the same in my hometown. Its a big midwestern city, but mos def NOT a tourist destination. And in putting up a hostel, you would more than likely compete with the hooker/crackhead motels....and not attract genuine tourist/travelers. No travelers in their right mind barely stay in the city, therefore word would get out to the undesirables (and hoards of homeless) that there is a place you can stay for $20/night. Though I cant speak on Milwaukee, because Ive never been there.

Brambles24601

User avatar
Street Food Connoisseur
 
Posts: 565
Joined: May 2nd, 2006

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: March 31st, 2007
Thanks for the input everyone. I have been thinking about many of these things...

I know that there is the crackwhore/bum/etc reputation that hostels get. I can see that happening fast here, especailly in the cold winter. Also American long-termers can ruin a place. I've been to some awful hostels and some good ones in my travels and I understand it can be really dangerous to mismanage a place. One thing Chicago hostels do is require that all guests show ID proving there from at least 100 miles away.

I would assume that I would actually get some mix of American and international travellers. The Hostel in nearby Madison seems to atract a decent array of travelers. I realize they're a more 'hippie' town and the university is larger, but, I think Milwaukee could support a baby hostel. Although there actually are a fair number of backpackers in Chicago, realistically I think I'd have trouble even getting the travelers that go to Chicago to just come up for a night. In order to be successful I'd probabally have to make it into a hostel + cafe or something. (Then there's more leagal stuff, though... and that's no good!)

Marquette University did used to do a summer hostel. It sucked though because it wasn't well known and it wasn't cheap enough. That's a possibility.

The thing is that Milwaukee definately WANTS to be a tourist destination. There are increasing numbers of folks comming up from Chicago yet many of them just take day trips. I've only spent 2 nights in a hostel so far this year (its only April!). I was in Brooklyn and actually met 2 people that had seperatly been to Milwaukee as tourists at the hostel bar, so that gave me some hope. The truth is the flow wouldn't be very constant. Sports people might come in the winter, but, I doubt they'd hostel. Its sounds likes its going to be a very optimistic stab at starting this if it happens.

Bush Trekker

User avatar
Street Food Connoisseur
 
Posts: 686
Joined: December 20th, 2006

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: April 1st, 2007
quote:
I know that there is the crackwhore/bum/etc reputation that hostels get. I can see that happening fast here, especailly in the cold winter. Also American long-termers can ruin a place.


That is very true. I can say this after running a hostel all winter. If anyone wants to stay here next winter as a winter resident, they will have to go through a backgraound check and have proof of employment. Bad winter residents can give you a bad reputation for the rest of the year because even in the slow season you will still get travellers. These will give you a good or bad grade with their friends and that can either cause you to have a great or horrible season.

You can get a basic background check on someone for about $25 and a more extensive one for about $50. You charge this to the winter resident as a non-refundable application fee. Use the same criteria as apartment complexes to rent to long term winter residents and make sure that they know you can have them leave at anytime and you do not have to give a reason. NONE whatsoever.

Remember that you have the right to refuse service to anyone and not give a reason. You can also refuse to allow local residents or even citizens from your own country. A hostel is set up for travellers not the convenience of local residents. We also refuse to allow people to check in if they have no baggage(there are some exceptions. Such as lost luggage.
__________________________
I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Filup

Lost in Place
 
Posts: 55
Joined: October 25th, 2005

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: April 2nd, 2007
For those that have worked in a hostel, or own one— just a few questions:

1) how much of a hurdle is it to strictly adhere to fire codes and stuff? It seems that this would be a big hassle seeing as how a bunch of bunk beds stacked in a room isn’t exactly the safest setup.
2) In general, is there quite a bit of legislation that you have to deal with and stay in compliance with (fire, health, sanitation, property zoning, etc)?
3) What is the best method of promotion at your hostel?
4) For more rural hostels—what are some of the ways to streamline getting people in the door.

Many thanks!
stay hungry, stay foolish.

TheWanderer

User avatar
Squat Toilet Professional
 
Posts: 872
Joined: April 2nd, 2005

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: April 2nd, 2007
I also have a sort of related question, especially anyone who's worked for HI Canada - do you know what a going rate is for staff? front desk or manager/assistant manager?

Bush Trekker

User avatar
Street Food Connoisseur
 
Posts: 686
Joined: December 20th, 2006

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: April 2nd, 2007
Filup-

1. Follow the fire, health, and zoning codes to the letter of the law. We had to close one of out buildings until it can be brought up to code and had to install an entire sprinkler and alarm system in the building still open. I have seen hostels shut down to all of the above violations.

2. YES! Hire a building inspector that knows about commercial properties and will give you honest advice.

3. Flyers, local visitors center, hostel handbooks, belive it or not these generate more customers than on line booking sites but you need to have your own web site.

4. Get a large passenger van and run a shuttle. Figure this into your overhead costs some airports require that you buy permit to pick people up. Find out the fees.
__________________________
I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Zopa

User avatar
Vagabonder
 
Posts: 1669
Joined: October 5th, 2004

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: April 2nd, 2007
me first job out of university was working in management at a major urban hostelling international hostel in the us. its a hell of a lot of work, and probably something i could only do for a year or two before burning out, or before hiring lots of unkempt backpackers to run things while i lounge around out back.
Celebrating my 1800th POST!

letuslook

Thorn Tree Refugee
 
Posts: 6
Joined: May 9th, 2007

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: June 7th, 2007
Hi,

I started a group just for people interested in starting a hostel. Nothing more, nothing less. If interested, please join.

I'm planning on starting a hostel in Belize early next year. There are NO hostels in Belize that I can find on the Internet, but it's a major scuba dive site.

I'm also working with a non-preachy Christian mission group - they currently do only week long missions, which is too short. I want to give them the option to stay longer and do more good.

I'm not religious, but their director was my youth minister and is a great guy.

Burton

Felix the Hat

User avatar
Extra Pages in Passport
 
Posts: 3215
Joined: June 17th, 2002
Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: June 7th, 2007
quote:
I'm planning on starting a hostel in Belize early next year. There are NO hostels in Belize that I can find on the Internet, but it's a major scuba dive site.


That's because there are already cheap accomodations in Belize. The reason there are so few hostels in places like Central America or Southeast Asia is that hotels and guesthouses are so cheap there. It's one thing to opt for a $10 dorm bed when hotels cost $100, but a $3 dorm bed is a much harder sell when you can get your own room for $5.

static

User avatar
Mod Squad
 
Posts: 16188
Joined: January 1st, 2001

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: June 7th, 2007
In Hanoi, there is the Hanoi Backpackers Hostel which costs more than the hotel with private rooms just a few doors away, yet the hostel does a great business anyway. Go figure.

letuslook

Thorn Tree Refugee
 
Posts: 6
Joined: May 9th, 2007

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: June 7th, 2007
quote:
Originally posted by Felix:

That's because there are already cheap accomodations in Belize. The reason there are so few hostels in places like Central America or Southeast Asia is that hotels and guesthouses are so cheap there. It's one thing to opt for a $10 dorm bed when hotels cost $100, but a $3 dorm bed is a much harder sell when you can get your own room for $5.

Thanks for letting me know, didn't think of that.

B


PreviousNext

Return to BootsnAll Members' Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests

PLEASE NOTE: Your original BootsnAll Boards Member login still works by logging in below on the Boards.
We have a new BootsnAll Account that you will start seeing around the BootsnAll Travel Network. This new login is not yet linked to your current Boards Account. In the meantime, you will need to sign up (for a BootsnAll Account) to use Account features like Indie ™ , Traveler Profiles etc.

Quick Links

Community Activity

Statistics for the last 7 days

New posts:
10
Newest Member:
bstonner20


Indie - Multi Country Flight Finder
Round the World Travelers


Join BootsnAll on Facebook

1 (503) 528-1005

© 2014 BootsnAll Travel Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.