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Starting a hostel

AmeriKranian

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  • Added on: June 10th, 2007
quote:
Originally posted by Brambles24601:
I've been seriously thinking about this one recently. I haven't found any other threads on this topic though.

I would very very much like to start a hostel here in Milwaukee if I end up staying around in the next few years.

Here's why:
-Milwaukee is the 3rd largest American city to be (currently) hostelless.
-We have the world's largest music fest.
-Milwaukee supposidly has the Midwest's largest night club.
-We have several major Universities.
-We spend more on night life percapita than any other Americans... lots of bars!
-Museums... advertising, art, black-holocaust, butterfly...
-One of America's best zoos.
-Breweries.
-There's Lake Michigan.
-Culture?
-Milwaukee is under 2 hours from Chicago and Madison, people come up here for concerts and events and don't want to drive home.

There have been some attempts at hostels before but none of them were both within city limits and permanant. I think we could support one if it was done right.

Anyhow, I have little idea on how to begin...
Should I lease a property? Lisencing and so many otherthings come into play. Any advice?


Hooray for Milwaukee! What side of town are ya from?

I'd imagine downtown would be the primo area to open up a hostel. Maybe you can find a place within walking distance to the Summerfest grounds? I was downtown yesterday and saw 2 places for sale/lease. They look like they could be very easily used for a hostel.
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Tammy Blue

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  • Added on: June 10th, 2007
You could open a modest B&B. Same principle as a hostel, only with more private rooms, and much more in keeping with travelers to the Mid-West.

The question you have to ask yourself is do you want a hostel or are you interested in the hospitality industry. If the latter you could broaden your idea of what you want to do.

For international inspiration you might want to check out the story of how an American couple started a successful inn in the wilds of Ecuador: The Black Sheep Inn
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my2thhurts

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  • Added on: June 10th, 2007
Brambles24601,

The buy or lease question is tough. If you are looking into buying, the price inside Milwaukee - where it is zoned for a business like this - might be quite high.

Leasing leads to what type of lease? Who pays utilities, property taxes and building insurance? You need to look into which you will cover, as well as how long the lease is for. Many times the landlord will want at least a five year lease.

Have you thought about forming a LLC to limit you personal liability?

Many of these things can be cleared up by talking to an accountant. Get a good understanding of them with research. An accountant can give you information more specific to the local area.

marty

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  • Added on: June 17th, 2007
We are thinking of starting a guide service/language school in the US. For us, all roads lead to the small business association. There, all legal, financial, social, and environmental issues are addressed, and the resources and links are limitless.

Currently we've trying to figure out how to address those needing rooms; should they be boarders, or should we room them in hotels.

We want to open in Central New York, and one of the first stumbling blocks has been zoning. IF you lease, it is already zoned commercial, I think, whereas buying a place may entail going though all the code work to have roomers...

Maybe we can share what we learn along the way. Good luck! Visit the US SBA. I don't have a link, but it isn't hard to find.
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boatcrew

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  • Added on: July 1st, 2007
quote:
Originally posted by Filup:
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.


I don't think they fire department cares about the bunk beds as much as clear exit routes and fire alarms/extinguishers.

There are many ways to promote your hostel. In big cities, the Internet is very important. Both on your own Web site and on the booking sites like hostelworld. It can bring in the majority of your bookings. I don't know about more remote locations. I may open a hostel off the established backpacker trail so it's something to think about...

There is a Web site for people who want to open hostels: http://www.hostelmanagement.com/
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boatcrew

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  • Added on: July 1st, 2007
quote:
Originally posted by Brambles24601:
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.


At the hostels that I've worked in, the rule is usually "out of state ID and passport required" (down-and-out locals usually don't have the passport).
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Travelin Texan

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  • Added on: February 4th, 2011
I am wanting to set up a small size hostel in America. I have looked into what regualtions I need to fall under and, since the hostel idea is mostly unknown in the USA, I must fall under B&B regulations or Hotel. B&B doesn't really work for a Hostel (at least in Texas where I am looking) since it is regulated by the number of BEDS with a max of 8. While Hotels are regulated by rooms. Hotel regs. also have the major deterrent of needing to be in commercial zoning. Most hostels in Europe and other places that have the best character are in big houses in Neighborhoods.

Does anyone know a better way to structure the hostel to get away from commercial (also more expensive) zoning requirements?

Also, the ability to serve beer/alcohol seems to be a way to make much more money. Anyone know the rules on having an alcohol serving establishment on premises? Does this mean only 21 and up can stay at the hostel?

2wanderers

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  • Added on: February 4th, 2011
Laws vary from place to place, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say: probably not. And with good reason. As much fun as a hostel can be, I would have to admit that I would not want one to move in next door.

The best you could hope for would be to successfully get land rezoned to meet your requirements, which most places will likely requires your neighbours to okay your rezoning request, or go to a city board or council that can - but probably won't - overule your neighbours wishes. In city centres, there's often mixed zoning areas where there are either houses already zoned commercial, or where it's easier to get the zoning changed because it's normal and expected in the area.

When we looked into this a few years ago, we liked the idea of converting a historic warehouse or other similar building with some character into a hostel. Houses aren't the only buildings that make good hostels. Unfortunately, the capital costs seemed prohibitive at the time, and my interest in running a hostel has since waned.

busman7

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  • Added on: February 4th, 2011
Personally think the red tape involved in either Canada or the US would eat-up too much of the profit. :(

However I am in the process of opening a one room B&B in El Salvador with pool & day use area, a 10 min walk from the beach. :banana:
"Being normal? Ugh. I can't imagine how awful that must be" unknown

zoomcharlieb

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  • Added on: February 5th, 2011
Boy, I'm sure glad the world is filled with so many different kinds of people. Most of the posters on these pages talk of freedom on the road, not getting tied down, moving from place to place and you losers (excuse me) are devising an anchor chain to tie you down for good. I hope you put your hostel in a good place but I'm thinking of heading out to the wilds of Tibet and doing some one night home stays with the locals and you guys will be cleaning the lint trap in the dryer. But good luck.

2wanderers

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  • Added on: February 7th, 2011
zoomcharlieb wrote:Boy, I'm sure glad the world is filled with so many different kinds of people. Most of the posters on these pages talk of freedom on the road, not getting tied down, moving from place to place and you losers (excuse me) are devising an anchor chain to tie you down for good. I hope you put your hostel in a good place but I'm thinking of heading out to the wilds of Tibet and doing some one night home stays with the locals and you guys will be cleaning the lint trap in the dryer. But good luck.
It works well for some people. I stayed at a hostel in PEI last summer where the owner had a great racket going. He was only open 5.5 months of the year and made enough money to spend the winter traveling in warm locales.

Of course, the market there was pretty much perfect for this. Cheap real estate, a large but highly seasonal tourist trade (he was fully booked almost every day from May through August, and not far off the rest of the season), and basically no competition (so that even $28-$32 per night qualified as affordable accommodation by local standards).

But I'm sure this situation isn't unique in the world, and setting something similar up could give someone the flexibility that most of us seem to want.

busman7

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  • Added on: February 7th, 2011
Believe zoomcharlieb's comment was tongue in cheek as he mentioned home stays in Tibet which is not going to happen & am sure he knows this.

Personally will be using the B&B profits from to high season to supplement my pension so I can travel during the low. :lol:
"Being normal? Ugh. I can't imagine how awful that must be" unknown


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