How to make your hostel design special in passengers’ Eyes

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How to make your hostel design special in passengers’ Eyes

With an ever-growing market, hostel management needs to work harder to make their own hostel stand out in the sea of competition. Be it by appearance, a special offer, or the price of accommodation. The key objective is – sticking out. So, what can be done? We can see that more and more owners are trying to make their own hostel stand out by design. That is why we are going to talk extensively about possible design ideas that can make you stand out.

Expenses & Revenue

Firstly, we are going to sort out some of the most basic sources of expenses and revenue.

1) Expenses:

– Furniture (Absolute necessities are beds, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, sheets and wardrobes. In reality, you will be buying a lot more in order to add character to your hostel)

– Various licenses and permits (You will most commonly need a permit for building activity & to be allowed to serve alcohol. It depends on the establishment that you are trying to make, as well as the state laws in which you are operating)

– Insurance (The most notable being: public liability insurance, employer’s liability insurance, and professional indemnity insurance. The obligations about this one is a bit harder to pinpoint, as they are tied with the specific national authorities)

– Mortgage amortization

– Hostel design expenses

2) Sources of revenue include:

– Private beds & dorms

– Restaurants and bars

– Gyms & leisure areas

– Laundry services and many others

Private Rooms or Dorms?

When running a hostel, the first management decision you need to make is how to divide your spaces. This means that you have to decide what type of rooms you want to focus on, and how many to have. So let`s go over some statistics and debunking them.

Currently there is a trend towards private rooms, many people are valuing their privacy over the price of the room. But does this mean that ditching dormitories completely is the right move? The short answer is, no.

In reality, the global population is still growing, and will keep growing. Even reach 11 billion people by 2100 according to estimates by the United Nations. Due to this (estimated) increase, the demand per space will only continue to grow, leading to the larger pay off by using dorms primarily. After all, if the demand per space continues to grow, so will the need for them! This trend originates in Asia. Due to most of Asia’s high population density, a lot of establishments need to accommodate as high a number of people as they can.

1) The phenomenon of digital nomads is also a fine example of a trend towards dormitory market expansion. “Digital nomads are people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers often work remotely from foreign countries…” With digitalization being more and more present in the entire world, it will logically lead to the expansion of digital nomads. And with digital nomads not looking into permanent housing, they will most of the time look for a place where to stay at a limited time. Hotels? Too expensive for most of them. Shared apartments? It can work. But where they will mostly set their eyes on are hostels. Making your hostel more approachable towards digital nomads is also a marketing strategy that is worth considering.

2) Solo traveling is also an interesting trend. More and more people want to get a great experience and sometimes not all their friends can make it/want to go to the specific location. Meeting new people is always a great experience, especially of different backgrounds, and what better place to do it than a hostel?

For both of these categories hostels excel at meeting their demands. And dorms do not present a problem to them. However, this does not mean you should completely disband private rooms either. As they are a great source of income if they are not your focus, you will better off putting a bigger focus on dorms. A nice balance of around 25% – 30% private rooms and 70% – 75% dorms is a good starting point. But you should never have a fixed divide. If you want your business to prosper, you need to pay close attention to the constantly fluctuating economy and its demand. With this said, an amount of gender-specific rooms is recommendable. Usually, women will ask for these types more, but men do ask for them as well.

Its up to you on determining the sizes of the rooms. There are some unique global trends like Japanese capsule hotels that remain unique, cheap (comparatively), and save enormously on space. And they are also becoming more globally present, with their presence expanding into other countries as well.

The Hostel Atmosphere

Why is the atmosphere important? Don’t people care about the price above all else? Well, not entirely so. A pleasant atmosphere is becoming more and more relevant to the sale of rooms. The same goes for customer services and the host’s hospitality. A study has been done on the topic, analyzing what do millennials look for most when staying in a hostel. The study has shown that millennials want to: “meet people, engage in activities and events, have local experiences, feel comfortable/at home, get good value for money and enjoy the convenience.” This leads us to believe that the experience and atmosphere are becoming more of a relevant question. Adding some unique entertainment objects will go a long way. Since they want to meet new people in a relaxing environment, the furniture also plays a big part. A good suggestion would be making a devoted gathering room with bean bags spread all around the room for people to meet each other.

Space Designing

There are too many unique space designs to count, so we will just do some general tips on specific spaces.

1) Lobbies will generally be the very first interaction a guest with your establishment. That is why it ranks among the more important spaces that you need to make a welcoming design on. Playing some popular or elegant music in the lobby will create a serene atmosphere for the guests. Serving refreshing drinks in the bar also contributes to making a welcoming atmosphere. Bonus points if you can even do eco-friendly elements to stand out (Madama Hostel & Bistrot in Milan, Italy is a fine example of this method. They make furniture out of recycled materials and surround their establishment with quirky art).

2) Properly equipped and installed electronics are a no-brainer. In today’s time of mass digitalization, people will almost certainly expect to have internet access in the place they are staying at.

3) Too many hostels are trying to be flashy, and stand out as being the most glamorous. This strategy usually does not end well… If you combine too many styles, you are bound to look like a wreck. So go for a specific style and stay with it. Consider even experimenting with minimalism.

4) Who doesn’t love good food? If your hostel gets a reputation for it’s cuisine, you can be sure that word will spread! Supplying the guests with proper food-making equipment. A person certainly won’t be happy if his equipment is from the ’70s or even worse if he doesn’t have it.

Miscellaneous Designs That Add Character

And to finish it off, we are going to show you some interesting and unique styles that might just give you inspiration for your next great idea!

1) Making a home-made cinema inside of your hostel is the perfect way of making a great atmosphere

2) Ping-pong, table football, table hockey are all simple but great additions to your hostel. They add character, relieve stress, and a great way to meet new people!

3) Go vintage. Vintage designs add a unique appeal to the place, that also fills us with a sense of curiosity mixed with nostalgia

4) Hammocks offer a leisurely and relaxing addition to the experience of staying at a hostel.

5) Bricks are great to add an urban appeal to the room you’re staying in. Depending on where the guest is from, they will either be okay with the style or absolutely love it!

6) Maps are always a pleasure to look at, be it world maps, maps of Europe or even the very city they are staying at. One thing is for certain, they add a certain charm to the room.

There are so many possible things to do with your establishment, it becomes so hard to settle down for something. But starting a hostel business is serious stuff, so don’t be afraid to take it slowly and think it over. Know the people you are aiming to attract. Digital nomads will appreciate better internet. Solo travelers will appreciate a focus on group activities/meeting places. Try out new and different ideas, and you are already ahead of your competition. Because if you are daring to experiment with new things and think outside of the box, you will get noticed.


A special Thanks to @Grace for this interesting and useful piece. Don’t you think so?

Grace Wilson

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