How many of you have memories from your earliest days of backpacking that include finding dorms ranging from ‘I guess this will do’ to ‘this is appalling but hey, it’s cheap!’ A main fixture was of course the rickety bunk bed that woke you every time the other person slightly moved in their sleep...if you were even able to fall asleep, that is. Maybe it was the bent springs or constant light coming in and out of the room. Or perhaps dying of heat in summer (because what’s AC on a budget??) and that one ceiling fan felt miles away.
I remember the first time I saw a privacy curtain on a dorm bed about 10 years ago. I felt a mix between being a kid in a blanket fort and yet suddenly posh enough to buy the second least expensive beer out that night. Like, “Privacy? In a dorm? Look at me traveling in style now!”
It’s no secret that travelers today are drastically changing their standards of what is acceptable for a hostel. You may have gotten away with that squeaky Ikea bunk for a while, but not upgrading your accommodations is going to start hindering your business if it hasn’t already.
It’s not just the reputation or reviews that are impacted. Think about the cost, both in time and money, of maintaining crappy bunk beds. Wood starts to look shabby, metal needs to be tightened or welded to stay together, springs become bent. The list goes on, and your only solution is to either buy a new cheap bed (expensive in the long run) or to fix it (time & energy, which is still money).
Or, you could invest in a product that will not only solve your bed issues but actually bring you more money, such as SmartBunks.
Smart Bunks are modern bunk beds for the modern traveler. They are super comfortable, podlike beds that are incredibly customizable. They come with everything your millennial traveler is looking for, such as power outlets and charging ports, LED lights, personal fan, luggage storage, a safe, and a privacy option (either a curtain or blind.) More importantly than ever they also include an organic air purifier that they claim will kill mold, bacteria, and yes- even coronaviruses. Perhaps just as impressive, Smart Bunks also repel mosquitoes! I can think of many dorms where I wish that had been the case.
While the beds will later be made out of injection moulding for the mass market, the current first edition is made of laminated plywood. However, this isn’t your grandpa’s wooden bunk bed. Forget about the wobbles or the splinters or shabby-looking wear and tear. This bed is made of incredibly strong wood on the inside and completely sealed with a full veneer on the outside. The final look is as unique as you’d like with incredible customized artwork, branding, and more. Which means that even if a competitor hostel down the road also has Smart Bunks, yours will still stand out in your space.
The various customizations, both in features and aesthetic, also mean that they’re versatile to fit into the systems you’re already using. For example, whether you do bed assignments with a clipped-on name card, a number system, or maybe not at all, Smart Bunks can seamlessly integrate.
For those of you looking into the future or simply for opportunities to be cutting edge, Smart Bunks can also be equipped with an optional Smart TV, opening up possibilities for a whole new digital platform and advertising. Plus, there is plenty of potential for tech retrofitting as technology advances even further. How cool would it be to have a magic mirror in a dorm bed?! Extend your stay while you’re hungover without leaving your bed as your childhood sci-fi dreams come true!
What about bed bugs?
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to discussion about bunk beds. Unless you live in a vacuum or are just blissfully naive, all hostels worry about bed bugs at some point. Everything is going well until these free riders coast in on some guest’s backpack and wreak havoc on your business. Hostels may be proactive to avoid them, but they also spend time and money dealing with the problem and their burned reputation.
This is why not only are Smart Bunks made of a smooth, sealed surface making it hard to climb and with nowhere to hide, but the company is also investing in innovative and exciting future retrofit provisions to address the potential bed bug problem.
Plus, they are going a step further and planning a partnership with heat treatment specialists. If for whatever reason bed bugs do appear in a Smart Bunk, these technicians can swiftly kill the frustrating free riders- and their eggs- using only heat, without chemicals. This means a quick turnaround time for the affected dorm and prevents the hostel from losing much revenue.
Sounds great, but how could I ever afford this?
By this point, you’re probably thinking that putting Smart Bunks in your hostel would be a massive investment, and it’s actually quite the opposite! Not only do they actually give you the opportunity to make extra income immediately (more on that below), there is a little upfront cost to the host.
This is because the ingenious Smart Bunks business model is based on a 5-year “Pay Per Sleep” rental arrangement. This means that the company retains the legal title of the beds, effectively allowing the hostel to have free Smart Bunks installed with zero risk or contractual liability. The hostel’s investment (or really, lack thereof) is off-balance sheet, not eating up capital nor affecting bank creditworthiness.
Even better - you pay nothing for empty beds! Smart Bunks come with an under-the-mattress patented pressure sensor with SIM card technology for easy auditing. Having a slow night? If a guest doesn’t stay, you don’t pay. They really are making this as risk-free as possible.
Ok, but how do I make money on this?
I’d venture to guess that no matter how nice your current bunk beds are, they aren’t in the same league as a brand-new Smart Bunk. And that’s not a bad thing! Because now you have a premium product and the opportunity to upsell posh modern travelers with premium rates, while only remitting circa $4 per night per bunk slept in (~ €4.10).
Better yet, when you reach the capped rental accumulation milestone, expected to be in year 3 or 4 depending on occupancy success rates, you stop paying any rental fees at all. Then at the 5-year mark, the company comes and replaces your inventory with brand new Smart Bunks whereby you start the 5-year cycle again. Beyond your usual markup, that’s upwards of 18 months of additional revenue potential!
Not to mention whatever future technology comes with each iteration of new Smart Bunks. Who knows what these entrepreneurial innovators will come up with in that time? My vote is teleporting between bunks. Easily visit friends on a different floor and save my energy for partying later. Hey a girl can dream right?!
Do backpackers really want these?
As backpacking shifts and changes in these recent years- especially after pandemic restrictions are stimulating people’s hunger to travel at whatever cost, there is a growing demand for better bunk beds and dorm standards. Even just a couple of Smart Bunks dorms would provide a great upgrade option, a middle tier between a dorm and a private room. What traveler wouldn’t want some extra amenities without the high price tag?
Smart Bunks can also utilize space more effectively, especially buildings with odd shaped rooms, which can be both a win for the guests and for the hostel. Sometimes rooms may seem too big to be one dorm, but the city won't let you partition off the room because of windows or other emergency protocols.
I’ve had the pleasure (regret?) of spending the night in a 30-bed dorm and think that the privacy features in Smart Bunks, such as the pod shape and the blind or curtain, would allow you to do a bigger room more effectively. Especially without being totally enclosed, which is disagreeable for claustrophobic people (or just those like me who don’t really crave staying in a coffin). The beds offer a sociable aspect but can also be positioned in a room creating maximum solitude. There has never been a better way of dividing up a room for several people to share that feels more comfortable to your guests and brings maximum revenue to you.
The evolving higher standards of the dorm experience is exactly why the demand for Smart Bunks specifically may continually increase. Particularly as more and more travelers try them out, as well as tell friends and other guests who are curious about them. In turn, hostel business owners now have the opportunity to capitalize on the word-of-mouth wants and desires from travelers.
You may think your guests only want the cheapest option, but after 3 weeks on the road with shitty sleep in awful beds and huge dorms, even the stingiest backpacker is willing to throw down an extra few bucks and pretend it’s the Hilton for a night. Or at least get some much-needed rest while all of their devices securely charge, and they don’t have to see 19 people coming and going while they Zoom their friends overseas.
Increasing income through increased occupancy
Between the lack of upfront investment and the potential for increased nightly revenue from premium rates, you may already be convinced. But just in case, here’s one more giant reason Smart Bunks may be your next best move: Increased occupancy.
Sure, old-school word of mouth is great, but we all know by now it’s an internet world. Smart Bunks also give you the potential to increase your occupancy (and income) through their big investment of the online booking website Smartbunking.com. Have you ever heard of a bed with a booking engine? Nor had I, probably because I wasn’t exactly chasing down the next Ikea experience by choice.
In this case, Smartbunking.com (coming soon) is designed to help you fill your new premium beds. Once travelers enjoy a Smart Bunks experience and decide they never want to go back to staying in a prison-edition-style squeaky metal bunk bed, they no longer have to play bunk bed roulette or read through 18 reviews for mentions of sleep quality. They simply go to the website, find out where the available Smart Bunks are in their next destination, and make a booking. The site will be bolstered via various online marketing campaigns, and your hostel would be promoted from day one as a highly desirable “Smart Bunks” location on Smartbunking.com.
The company is also planning an app to download upon check-in which will help connect guests to travel information and informercials streamed through the Smart TV and their devices. These digital campaigns can educate your guests about local affiliated offerings of tours, activities, and travel products & services to enhance their adventure.
So, it’s more than just a better bunk, it’s a whole traveling experience enhancement.
If this is all sounding like a great option for your hostel, the timing is perfect! By the end of this year, Smart Bunks will be installed in the first few select hostels for actual guests. The company just attended its fifth appearance at the WYSTC trade show in Lisbon announcing its upcoming launch. They will be exhibiting at STAYWYSE, the hospitality trade show in Amsterdam in February, and at the ITB Berlin travel show in March. So, if you are ready to uplevel your hostel and guest experience, be sure to reach out to them about what options are available for your property.
Interested in working with Smart Bunks instead of ordering them?
Due to fast growth and high demand, the company is actively seeking continental distribution partners in the US, Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe. Part of the responsibility for these partners is sales and customer service for hostel operator clients of Smart Bunks. This includes getting the bunks to the hostels with 5-star service for installation, as well as ongoing maintenance and support. The company understands how important it is for a switch to new beds to be as smooth and non-disruptive as possible, though they also leave opportunities for the hostels to have needed maintenance done during the transition time, such as fresh paint or new carpet if desired.
It’s time to reform the dorm.
If you’re ready to offer the ultimate accommodation experience while increasing occupancy and making more money, head over to Smart Bunks today. Your guests - and your bank account - will thank you for it! You’ll find sales consultants based in their Australian office. Subject to current discussions with blue-chip investors, the company intends to install over $1 Billion worth of Smart Bunks products in hostels in Europe, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand in the near future. A serious roll-out is planned! (Contact them to join the queue).