An article entitled “The Clients You Want versus The Clients You Get!” brings up a really good point. If you don’t know who you WANT to have in your hostel, then you’ll end up with whoever comes along.
If you attract nothing but the guests you really want, then your atmosphere is going to be great for you and for them. If you’re trying to be everything to everyone, then you’re going to fail to truly satisfy anyone.
We all have them, you know those customers that we wish we had 10, 20 (fill in the blanks) more like them!
If you don’t know what the customers you want look like, market segment, demand periods, rate sensitivity, etc. you will have to keep settling for the inquiries that come in over the phone – even if they are ‘shopping’ you and all the other hotels in your market. You know they are shopping so desperation sets in and you go lower and throw in more value adds to get the business.
The DNA model provides a filter for that overwhelming number of potential prospects by market segment, seasonality, etc What do your ideal clients look like?
- Geographically. Where do they come from? Where does the booking originate? Where do the participants come from?
- Demographically. What is the vertical that your best clients represent? What type of business is it, i.e., sales meeting, family reunion, etc.? What is the title or position of the person that books the business? What is the demographic of the participants?
- Fiscally. How rate sensitive are they? How do they pay the bill?
So how can this work for your hostel?
The article is written for hotel sales reps who are tracking down companies for group business. For most backpackers hostels, that wouldn’t apply at all to your situation. A larger hostel that does a lot of group business may want to give it a shot in the dead season to fill private rooms. Even dorms could be booked up if you target companies that do team-building workshops. (If they don’t, then maybe you could call them up and pitch the idea to them)
Regardless of the size of the hostel and your preferred methods of sales, you still need to decide which clients you really want. 18 to 20-year old Australian party animals on their gap year? 30 to 35-year old history buffs on sabbatical? Undergraduate philosophy students in a city with cheap weekend flights to yours? Jet-setting millionaire flashpackers with a penchant for heavy tipping?
After you have determined your ideal guests, then gear your marketing specifically towards them.
Basic marketing (website, fliers, booking engines):
Property description – You want bookworms? Talk about your extensive collection of novels, quiet library room, and the reading lamps on all of your beds. You want party animals? Describe the dance floor in your on-site bar and your abundance of toilets that they can bury their heads in when they’re blind stinking drunk. You want gourmet chefs? Talk about your commercial grade kitchen appliances and never-ending supply of free spices. If you want Germans, then be sure to have a version available in German!
Don’t be afraid to describe your ideal guest in your promotional materials either. If you do a particularly great job of catering to 20-something Swedish girls, then say so! (Although that might backfire and fill your hostel with nothing but sleazy dudes looking for 20-something Swedish girls)
Photos – Take some pictures of your favorite guests doing the things that you want your next favorite guests to do. Show exactly what they can expect to find in your hostel. Examples include: A man sitting undisturbed in a recliner halfway through a copy of “The Complete History of the Universe” -or- a pack of hipsters lining up a 120-shot Jägermeister train on the bar -or- a multicultural crowd cutting up food and preparing for a feast -or- a steamy shower stall with two sets of clothes tossed haphazardly on the floor.
More time consuming methods to get your ideal guests:
Make a trip to the local tourist information center, convention bureau, and every hostel in your feeder cities to tell them exactly what kind of guests you really want. Ask them to recommend your hostel to people like that whenever they come through. (It’s okay to ask them NOT to recommend your hostel to the guests that you don’t want, too - maybe your competition caters to them better than you do anyway)
What other methods do you implement to specifically attract the type of guests that you REALLY want in your hostel?