Here is an article from hostel consultant Byron Bunda about the changes we can expect to see from Hostelworld’s marketing strategy and what you can do to take advantage of this for your hostel’s benefit.
Recently Hostelworld made a presentation to investors, reviewing their performance over the last year and outlining plans for 2019. What did the presentation say? Essentially, Hostelworld’s done with big money ads with 50 Cent and Mariah Carey. Now, they’re going to use their unique content to market specifically to their target customers. Hostelworld is finished using the shotgun approach. Now they are switching to lasers.
For the last few years Hostelworld have cast a wide net with expensive celebrity commercials in order to raise awareness about hostels. They wanted to introduce the hostel concept to people who are not familiar with it, and to make hostels more mainstream. Their goal was to create new interest and bring new customers into hostels.
Now it seems they want to shift gears and use interesting content to target the people who are the most likely to need hostel accommodation. That makes good business sense for them, because it is far less costly.
Instead of big advertising campaigns, in the future Hostelworld will use data to target their customers and show them unique, relevant content. Using tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Google, Hostelworld can pick their audience, choosing viewers that are most likely to book a hostel. Then, they can send this targeted audience helpful information. They gave 3 examples:
The Ultimate Guide to backpacking Peru
The 5 best hostels in Ibiza
The best hostels in France for any backpacker
This is a great way for Hostelworld to market to potential customers because if a person is surfing the web, researching an upcoming trip, and reads one of these articles, there’s an very high chance they’ll be looking to book a hostel.
Since this strategy involves targeting people who are probably already aware of hostels, I have to wonder if this will lead HW back to their old practices of poaching our direct-booking guests out from under us and handing them back after collecting their commission. Whether this is a step forward or a step backward for HW and their relationship with the industry has yet to be seen.
In the article, Byron offers some excellent advice for using their strategies for your own hostel’s benefit. Since you, your team, and your guests probably have a more intimate understanding of your region, you are significantly more qualified to write relevant and useful content than someone who is simply aggregating business listings and traveler suggestions from abroad. He lists 12 blogs that you could write about your area to give your own website significantly better content than HW, Booking, or any other OTA is likely to be able to offer. (Thank you Byron, this list is fantastic!)
If your little hostel tries to fight a battle against Hostelworld to win all the backpackers visiting France, you will certainly lose. But what if you use a laser and you try to compete only for those visiting Lyon? That’s like using a laser.
How many articles has Hostelworld written on Lyon? Zero articles. So your hostel in Lyon writes these dozen articles:
12 free things to do in Lyon
How to spend a rainy day in Lyon
The ultimate guide to Lyon for backpackers
3 days in Lyon for budget travelers
Why Lyon is better than Paris for backpackers
Lyon’s best budget restaurants
5 places you must visit in Lyon
A self guided walking tour of Lyon
The secret to seeing Lyon on 50 euros a day
The best museums in Lyon for under 10 euros
The ultimate guide to nightlife in Lyon
Backpacking Lyon? Here are 8 dishes you must try
After you’re done, your website, is going to kick Hostelworld’s ass when it comes to backpackers researching Lyon. You will destroy them with lasers!
You can watch a 5-minute video summary of Byron’s article here:
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