As a hostel owner (3 in Belgrade, Serbia and one in Budva, Montengro, www.sunhostels.com and www.goodmorninghostels.com) and lots of experience i can explain it from my point of fiew.
Cost of developing web page vary from country to country but in esence they are not that big of a problem. The biggest problem is web site optimization and links you create connecting to your website. In that area is really hard to compete with booking engines as they create millions of links (and have a ton of text that google likes) so in every search involving word hostel they are first in the list.
Second, almost every hostel is giving better price to booking engines (because they have to compete and distinct with other hostels) than they actually have on their web pages.
Third, guests feel it is more safe to book through 3rd party, as they consider booking directly thorugh email or phone is less convinient in case of some misunderstanding (type of room, price, etc...)
But, anyway, any good hostel owner/manager that the best way to present itself is through web page and for that reason only they should have it :)
Hope this helps
Any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated
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