Has anyone opened a hostel in a city where you were not currently living or had not lived before? I am hoping to open in Santa Cruz, California, about 1.5 hours south of San Francisco, where I'm currently managing a hostel. I am in the early stages, but know that I need to make some good community connections down there beyond what I have. I know it will be much easier to find the right building, get the OK for what I want to do, etc etc if I am not the 'new guy in town who knows no one'.
I've been bad about just getting down there more often to begin with, but I plan to change this and start popping down at least a couple times a month. It's hard to get away often, but it's definitely step 1! I love the city and definitely think it's right for my project, but I feel a bit lost in the start up process not living there or knowing the area like a local. It's hard enough to make connections in a new city that you DO live in! I intend to do the hostel owner-operated, so will obviously be moving there in the future, but just struggling a bit now to get things going without being there permanently.
Does anyone have advice or experience on this? How or why did you decide to open different from where you once were? Did you know the area very well already? What was your experience like in finding the right building, getting the ok from city officials to open a hostel specifically, etc etc? What steps did you take to establish connections with the community in general? Thanks much.