COVID-19 has rendered many of us trapped indoors, with fewer guests than usual, and unable to make as money as we need to in order to, y'know, pay the rent and live our daily lives.
The guest management experience platform Wishbox is a great way to earn a little extra money when your numbers are down.
Co-founded by former vacation rental company owners David Mezuman, Jeremy Atlan, and Shai Bar who is in charge of development, Wishbox allows guests to check-in online before arriving at the property and automating info collection such as document scan, e-signature, and payment. The system also offers an online store to allow hosts to up-sell additional services to guests, manage guest reviews, and create a branded app for direct communication with the guest. Hostels and property managers can generate more revenue from every guest and maximize the profits of each guest by selling ancillary services and generate additional revenue from the provision of ancillary and paying services.
“The receptionists are so busy at check-in with paperwork they are forgetting to be communicative with the guest,” said Wishbox director of marketing Sapphire Stein. “The goal is to take away the paperwork of checking in and have a more positive and personal experience.”
Wishbox also lets hostels create a marketing mailing list for guests, sell tours and activities directly through the platform, and offer add-ons when applicable - such as an airport pickup, a welcome pack, or any tours or activities your hostel offers. Guests can browse, schedule, and pay for tours and other services directly through the platform. Easy!
Stein, who has worked for hostels in the past, discovered Wishbox when trying to solve a problem her hostel was having with communicating to guests.
“I was trying to deal with a way to better sell tours and activities without reducing conversion rates on the website,” she said. “On [the hostel’s] website, you want to sell the room, but there’s so many other values you want to offer, and it was missing a platform to offer it before arrival. I was anxious about adding things to the website and I was looking for something that would allow me to communicate that this hostel has all these amazing things to do.”
After they check in before arriving to their destination, guests will be shown all the choices of features they can add on, such as local tours, activities, a welcome pack, and any other tours or activities your hostel chooses to offer. Wishbox also has the option to add an “early check-in” feature, which provides your hostel guests with an opportunity to pay a small additional fee for early check-in when the room they reserved was empty the night before.
The platform also offers an early check-in to guests who will be checking into a bed that is empty the night before. This provides hostels with the possibility of earning additional income on empty rooms from the guest checking in the next day. This has the effect of increasing RevPAR and RevPAB (Revenue per available room/bed) with the same occupancy levels. Hostels can also send an SMS reminder to guests through the platform to let them know that early check in is an option.
In addition to allowing guests to select tours, activities and other add-ons that your hostel offers, hostels can also partner up with businesses in the area of their choice. Wishbox has a “marketplace” feature, which shows all the businesses in the area that have previously partnered up with the app – unique experiences, tours, events, restaurants with deals for hostel guests, etc. You can either select a tour or other activity from a business already on the app to offer to your guests, or, if you know any super awesome businesses you think that hostel guests would want to know about, you can invite them to join the marketplace. For example, if you have a friend who runs pub crawls, you can add them to the marketplace so guests can buy tickets for the pub crawl through Wishbox. You and your friend can then electronically split payment for all ticket sales through the platform. Then, you can offer awesome activities to your guests, make some extra income, and help your friend out. Win-win!
Although designed with hostels in mind, Wishbox is used by all types of properties of all sizes - bed and breakfasts, boutiques, and vacation rental properties. Most of Wishbox’s clients are in Europe, although they work with many properties in Australia and the U.S. as well.
Remember when we said guests can scan their passports through the system? During this process, the passports don’t get saved on the Wishbox server but are instead sent by email directly to the hostel, presumably with some level of encryption.
“In Wishbox there is only an indication whether or not a scan was uploaded,” Stein explained. “With some PMS’s like Cloudbeds it is saved in the reservation details so hosts can also access this directly from the Cloudbeds account.” Stein also clarified that Wishbox is GDPR ready.
Guests can also pay for their whole stay with their bank card or just a security deposit if needed. For countries where hostels need to report all guest information to the authorities, Wishbox makes it easy to collect all the information in one place in advance before sending it to the police. Next month, Wishbox will also be launching a specific new feature that allows hostels to automatically send all the information of guests to authorities.
Okay, now for the logistics part! Wishbox syncs with most of the major PMS systems that hostels already use. Currently, Wishbox works with Cloudbeds, Mews and many other systems and is constantly working with new integrations, according to Stein.
Wishbox costs 2 euros per month as a base fee, and after that each property is charged 1.5-2 euros per unit, where a “unit” is either a single bed or a room. So, for shared dorms, each bed is a unit, and for properties with private rooms, each room is a unit. This means that for each room or bed your hostel has, you pay around 1.5 additional euros. There’s no commitment, so hostels can cancel using the platform at any time.
In Stein’s experience, there are four main things that properties working with so far have liked most about Wishbox. Firstly, receptionists have reported that it makes the check-in experience run more smoothly - at check-in, all they have to do is make sure the passport has been scanned and all the guest info has been uploaded properly. Secondly, having all the guest information in the app as well as all the different selections for add-ons makes it so fewer questions are asked - everything is right there in the platform. Thirdly, hostel owners have found that using Wishbox has increased brand awareness and allowed hosts to generate more revenue from every guest with upsells. Having all the information about a hostel available to look through on a web app has made it easier for many guests to remember where they stayed, and therefore make it more likely they will come back, or recommend a friend to stay at your hostel as well.
The next time you have a line out your door of guests waiting to scan their passports or ask you about tours your hostel offers, and you think, “Wow, wouldn’t it be great if there was an app for this,” give Wishbox a try.