It’s a different ball game when it comes to owning and managing a hostel. Of course, it can be challenging when marketing your hostel to backpackers as it cannot purely survive by just offering accommodations. I’m sure that most of you might be applying many hostel marketing strategies though there is always no harm to check out what’s working and what’s not, and add in a few innovative ways if needed.
The article will guide you through:
Think of a ‘backpacker’ as someone who is independently traveling with a backpack, preferably staying at hostels rather than hotels, and more likely to use public transportation or walk rather than renting a car.
In other words, a backpacker is someone who travels around for whatever the reason it may be and instead of dragging suitcases, is more likely carrying every belonging in a backpack. Hence, backpacking is an inexpensive way of traveling, and take note, they often travel for several months at a time.
But of course, you could also think backpackers are those who backpack over the weekends meaning who carry their belongings and food for a camping trip to the mountains per se, however, this is considered different than someone who is a backpacker.
While you may think owning a vacation rental is great, think again! There are millions of vacation rental listings out there, just like yours. And to stand out from the market, you need to get ahead, if you want to drive traffic to your short-term rental that results in more bookings. Therefore, a marketing strategy needs to be implemented to target possible future guests to your listings. Here are some techniques in promoting your short-term rental, making it visible to backpackers:
Ideally, good pictures and bombshell prices alone will not effectively sell your short-term rental. To captivate your listings, you will need a dish of intriguing images and sweet words meaning the ‘title’ and the ‘description’. Although, our focus alone is the ‘title’ as it is what a backpacker sets his eyes on- the first impression.
In simplifying, the ‘title’ is what grabs the backpacker’s attention in wanting to check out your short-term rental listing which may result in a booking. With that said, your title needs to be loud and catchy in capturing potential guests. Keep in mind, a generic title, for example, ‘lovely hostel by the city’ would be a disaster in comparison to ‘East or West, we provide the best’ will perform better in being top of the listing page. Do you sense the change in the appeal oozing from the piercing title?
For those of you who do not know the power of blogging, let me tell you that blogging is an uprising in the hospitality industry. It is a powerful marketing strategy in marketing your hostel, hence should be cast off in the best possible way.
So how does it work? Simple. Find digital influencers or travel bloggers with a huge number of followers that ideally resemble your target audience. By doing so, the guests’ eyes will feast on your listings. The more eyes on your listings, the more guests you get.
In addition, invite or offer bloggers a free stay at your hostel as the returns are enormous and fruitful, benefiting both parties. Travel bloggers and writers will promote your hostel during and after their stay.
Additionally, they will also give reviews based on their experiences on various social media platforms, potentially maximizing traffic at your listing.
Pictures are worth a thousand words. In today’s digital world, visuals are what grabs the attention of the guest, hence images should be striking and engaging. Always make sure to shoot the pictures in the best possible light and the images should be at high resolution.
The first thing is to get listed on relevant online travel agents (OTA’s) such as HostelWorld, Airbnb, Dorms.com, etc. By doing so, it will give your hostel the presence of these booking sites remarkable credibility and outreach to millions of potential guests which eventually get you more bookings from travelers and backpackers alike.
With that said, the more OTA connections you have, the greater visibility for your hostel in maximizing your target audience, resulting in more bookings.
Having a website for your hostel is of utmost importance in your business especially when it is an effective hostel marketing strategy if executed well. Bear in mind, OTA’s and social media are constantly changing. Therefore, your website is the star of all your online marketing efforts. When designing your hostel website, think about performing good SEO and add appropriate keywords resulting in providing good returns. SEO makes your website visible and ranks on search engines.
Moreover, listing on Google My Business will make your hostel visible when searching for hostels in your region.
One of the effective ways in promoting your hostel is by running ads on:
Google - Google ads offer a great way to increase direct bookings, that is Google Hotel Ads. These ads will be part of your Google Business Listing once you enroll with them only with Google’s authorized integration partners. By doing this will help searchers/potential guests book directly to your website.
Facebook- Using Facebook ads, you can easily promote your FB page, posts, and your hostel website to the targeted audience. Although, it is best recommended to integrate your website with a booking engine allowing potential guests to book with you directly from the website.
Social media plays a key role in marketing. With its incredible advantages, social media is an essential part of hostel promotion. With that said, it’s a great way to interact with guests, establish your brand, expand your local network with other businesses, share your local knowledge, and build customer loyalty.
As for newbies, start by creating an account and a page on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Once that’s done, identify and reach your target audience. From there, build your brand, tell your story, and develop a connection with your audience.
Moreover, take advantage of travelers taking photos while they are traveling by setting up an Instagram-worthy location at the lobby (selfie spot) with your name and location. Run a contest offering guests a free night’s stay to the most creative photo tagging your hostel. By doing this, you will reach a wider audience and generate traffic through your social media.
With more and more travelers traveling solo and an increase in meeting like-minded people, this can be a huge benefit in promoting your hostel.
Cross promotional tactics are a great way to entice local businesses while mutually benefiting each other’s businesses. Take note, hostellers prefer you because they want to explore the city, experience and grasp its local culture, have a taste of authentic food, buy local products, etc. Therefore, having flyers or visiting cards of other businesses that are willing to cross-promote your hostel is a great marketing strategy.
Moreover, just showing a local presence and community interaction builds a good reputation resulting in recommending your hostel to fellow backpackers.
With the local connections, you can organize events such as food tasting tours, cycling expeditions, city tours, treks, and more; giving guests a taste of the local city. It would also be a great idea to actively host events and post them on social media platforms. Doing so will let your brand make its name to fellow travelers.
And besides organizing events, a great way to engage with other guests is by offering extras at your hostel such as leaving a guitar at the lobby for music lovers or pets for pet lovers. Not to mention, a bookshelf or a reading room is perfect for solo travelers who love to digest their peace and quiet.
The hostel should not be just offering a stay in a dormitory, it is more than that. Consider offering extra services such as city tours or trekking trips, bike rentals, etc. Doing so will enhance a backpackers’ experience, resulting in an increase in publicity by word of mouth.
Furthermore, by customizing your services according to your guests and marketing them on your website, you keep your hostels’ attention even in the off-season. This marketing strategy also allows your hostel to stand out from other competitors in the vacation industry.
Reviews play an important role in your hostel. It is a make or break in decision-making for your guests. Not only do reviews affect your reputation but also affect your bookings.
Therefore, it’s vital to focus on online reviews of your guests by asking them to give feedback on social media platforms such as Facebook, booking sites, or even Google, once a guest checks out. In return, you can offer guests discounts on their next stay. Apart from collecting guests’ reviews, it is also important to respond to them as well.
If you are an independent hostel and have settled in a city, think about considering expanding into a hostel chain. However, do not take this lightly, and make sure you take it one step at a time.
The first thing is to treat your hostel as a brand. Next is to plan out how you can set up your brand in a different city. Once you have confirmed a location for your hostel, then think about the type of experience you want to provide to the guests you welcome. Also, added that you maintain consistency in the experiences you provide to your guests at all locations of your hostel.
And last but not least, once you have implemented the steps correctly, the results will work the best possible way.