Last month we asked our membership to participant in a survey related to the proposed New York City hostel legislation. Below are the results of this survey along with some highlighted points from various respondents.
1. How are you currently affiliated with a hostel?
2. Where is/was your hostel located? (or where will it be located?)
3. Does a hostel-specific license exist in your area?
4. If no hostel specific license, under which license does your hostel operate?
6. What is the maximum bed capacity in your hostel?
7. Which of the following services are provided inside your hostel?
8. Which of the following services should a hostel be required by law to provide inside the hostel in order to operate?
9. The current draft of the NYC hostel legislation states: "A license shall not be issued or renewed for a licensed hostel unless, in addition to sleeping accommodations, the hostel provides the following services for guests:
1. A restaurant, coffee shop or cafeteria located in the hostel.
2. Lockers for guests occupying hostel units to store personal belongings located in a central area in the hostel or in each hostel unit.
3. A desk at the main entrance of the hostel attended by hostel staff providing check-in, concierge, security and/or other services for guests. Such desk shall be staffed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
4. A video security system.
5. One or more common lounge areas for guests."
Please state why or why not you agree with the above. Summary of responses included below:
- "Many hotels do not have a restaurant or coffee shop. Why should a hostel need one? This is outside the scope of providing accommodation."
- "A restaurant or bar is not a must. Hostels are there to introduce travelers to the locals and the local businesses. We encourage travelers to explore the city and other locations outside the hostel."
- "Hostels should not also have to run a bar, cafeteria or restaurant! Those are separate businesses and require knowledge of/interest in running that type of business. I would have no idea how to run a restaurant or a coffee shop for that matter, opening a hostel is enough work and if I were forced to also provide that type of service I would opt NOT to open a hostel."
- "Why not add "a guest kitchen with coffee and tea available to make" to the options of restaurant, coffee shop or cafeteria. For smaller hostels this requirement would be prohibitive, unless the restaurant or coffee shop is accessible to public from the outside. At that point you would have to start wondering what the actual main business is."
- "With new technologies, a physical desk may not always be the most appropriate. A smaller hostel may prefer to have staff walking around and helping, with a secure smartcard operated entrance with an intercom attached to their iphone for new guests arriving, for example."
- "While lockers have nearly become industry standard as a once extra-amenity turned expectation (likely due to the amount of expensive digital devices travelers now have), perhaps 'a safe and secure place for valuables' would be more understandable to put into legislation. There are plenty of great hostels who do not have lockers, but will keep your valuables in a secure area if you ask. "
- "Agreed it [reception] should be there. However, the hours should not be mandated by law. Different hostels have different needs based on size, location, atmosphere, etc. A big 200 bed party hostel in the middle of a city probably needs 24/hr reception for both customer service and security. A small, family run 16 bed hostel likely does not."
- "Hostels are designed to be a budget accommodation option to provide affordable lodging to travelers on a budget. Requiring a hostel to provide all of these amenities will force them to raise their prices to a level that won't allow them to be competitive."
10. What is the minimum number of beds that should be required by law in order to receive a hostel license?
11. The current draft of the NYC hostel legislation states: "A licensed hostel shall not contain fewer than thirty sleeping spaces." Please state why or why not you agree with the above. Summary of responses included below:
- "The market should decide that. If someone can have a smaller hostel with a good service and profitable why the law should forbid it?"
- "We believe that a Hostel can be smaller and run by the owners. This does not necessarily need to have 30 beds. Actually if you make it obligatory the travellers will miss the chance to enjoy a real backpacking experience and the market will be in hands of big companies without soul. Very sad for the travelers and for the ones who believe in this industry as a way of life and not only as a business."
- "There are some great small hostels around the world, which provide an amazing experience for travellers especially young travellers. I believe the law should allow both big and small operators, which would allow the travellers to choose the experience that they want."
- "I don't see the reason for setting a limit. It could be really nice to stay in a small hostel where you can keep track of your guests and your guests get to know each other. As long as someone goes through all the proper channels they should be allowed to have a small, intimate hostel."
12. What is the minimum number of beds that should be required by law for a shared dormitory?
13. What is the maximum number of beds that should be required by law for a shared dormitory?
14. The current draft of the NYC hostel legislation states: "The term “hostel unit” shall mean a dwelling unit designed to provide sleeping space for not
fewer than four nor more than eight individuals with rent charged separately for each individual sleeping space." Please state why or why not you agree with the above. Summary of responses included below:
- "In my personal experience I have slept in share rooms from 2 to 25 beds in it and in every case it was a wonderful experience cause you get from them what you look for. The smaller the room is the quieter will probably be and the more beds you have the more opportunities to meet people. So the option about the number of beds should be free decision of the owner and the customers and not marked by law."
- "If you want to pay extra money to be only sharing with a small number of people or very little with more than 8 then so be it."
- "The direction hostels are moving in doesn't fit into that category. There needs to be the option of private rooms mixed in with the dorm rooms--this is what people want and expect these days."
15. What is the maximum number of beds that should be required by law for a private room?
16. The current draft of the NYC hostel legislation states:
"The term “private room” shall mean a dwelling unit designed for occupancy by up to four individuals and which is offered for rent as a unit." Please state why or why not you agree with the above. Summary of responses included below:
- "Many families prefer private rooms but have more than 2 children, or have a grandfather or grandmother traveling with them. A room suitable for up to 4 individuals would immediately exclude many families, which is one of the biggest private room markets. You would not want parents to have to stay in a separate room from their young children? "
- "I agree that the term "private" says that is should be rented as a unit but it should not mention the number of beds cause there are different customers with different needs and different business owners who want to offer different products to make this market rich and let it improve depending only on the demand."
- "I have 10-bed private room, and have bookings for it sometimes. Why would there be any limits?"
- "I agree with this statement as long as the 4 will be sleeping in no more than 2 beds (2 double beds), yet I also understand that a private room may offer additional folding beds (1 per private room) for a child etc. That is pretty much what happens in Hotels and it should not be any different for private rooms in any type of lodging."
17. Should a hostel be required by law to own (or rent) the entire building in which it operates?
18. Should a hostel be allowed to operate within a building that has other occupants, provided that those occupants have given their approval?
19. Which of the following should be included in the legal minimum standards for a hostel? Choose all that apply:
20. The current draft of the NYC hostel legislation requires the above amenities be required in order to be licensed as a hostel. Please state why or why not you agree with the above. Summary of responses included below:
- "Laws should be for health and safety of the guests only. The law should not define how to operate the business, or you end up with generic businesses that cannot adapt to new technologies and trends. Power points come in handy now, but might very well be redundant in ten years time."
21. If a licensed hostel is sold, which of the following should apply:
22. Which of the following should be legally required from a prospective hostel operator in order to receive a hostel license? Choose all that apply:
23. Please add any comments or concerns you have below. Summary of responses included below:
- "Why is HW submitting this? They don’t run any hostels. They are not an authority over the hostel industry. They are a sales channel for hostels, even if they have a monopoly on the distribution within the market. This is like allowing the biggest car dealership in town to determine the laws that govern automobile design and manufacturing with the end goal that every car on the road has to be a bus, and that salesman will collect a commission on all ticket sales. "
- "A prospective hostel operator and/or staff should have knowledge of hygiene, safety, emergency situations, first aid. Customer service, knowing the hostel industry, knowing business are mostly related to the hostel becoming a success. Regulations should be related to the safety of guests."
- "In the end the traveler is the one that will choose what fits him best, so let the industry without so many restrictions and everyone, government, travelers, owners will be happy."
Thanks to everyone who responded. If you would still like to have your voice heard visit the survey here. We also encourage you join the discussion about the survey. Our hope is to receive input from an extremely wide variety of hostels.