The crew at HW are focusing on adding a sense of community into their booking application.
Hostelworld Has Ambitions to Complement Bookings With a Sense of Community
Quote from the article:
Budget accommodation specialist Hostelworld Group doesn’t just want to be an online travel agent. Like Airbnb and social networks, Hostelworld is doubling down on building a sense of community among its customers.
The idea is that HW shouldn’t just be a platform to book a bed, but rather a complete travel tool. If travelers (specifically backpackers) download their app, then those travelers are more likely to book their entire trip through HW without shopping around other OTAs or booking directly with hostels. To accomplish that, HW have to make the app appealing and fill it with features that backpackers would find useful. They feel that the features they are focusing on now apply specifically to the hostel crowd. As the sense of community is as integral to hostels as accommodation is, it makes sense to focus on this aspect.
Quote from the article:
“I think a lot of the things we’re doing or are focused on are things that absolutely Expedia could do, Booking.com could do, but they’re the sort of things that are probably unlikely to be relevant to 99 percent of their customer audience,” [CEO Feargal Mooney] said.
HW have been working to improve their app over the last several years, and they have added some pretty cool functions. In addition to comparing properties and booking beds, guests can check the weather in their destination, look for events taking place in the hostel or the surrounding area, and use a Google-powered translator to communicate with locals and other travelers. This year they’re planning to roll out a feature that would let guests communicate with each other before their trip.
This new feature sounds a lot like something Gomio implemented many years ago, with their Who Else Will Be There feature. At the time it received mixed reviews. Some people thought it was cool to see who else would be in the hostel at the same time, while others thought it was creepy and could lead to stalker-like booking behavior.
Now with other social applications like Gloqon or Hostelite that allow hostel guests to communicate and coordinate their activities inside the hostel, it’s not surprising that HW would want to incorporate such features into their app as well.