Some hostels start small and think big so that they can expand in the future. Zostel is taking a different approach. They’re starting big and planning to shape the future as they go.
This ambitious team is taking the Indian backpacker scene by storm with their rapid expansion plan. But the chain isn’t forming a franchise. Instead they’re inspiring entrepreneurs from across the country and beyond to take up the call to open their own hostels. And they’re teaching the whole burgeoning industry just how to do it.
The Zostel team started with a handful of hostels that they built in prime locations around India to address what they perceived as a severe lack of backpacker accommodation across the country. Then they took all of their private business information and publicized it for all the world to see. That’s when the fun really started. They created the Be You campaign to inspire other entrepreneurs to leave their unfulfilling careers and create a wave of backpacker hostels across India and beyond. All under the guidance and assistance of the Zostel team.
The response was pretty massive, with over 2000 candidates applying to get involved. Of those, the Zostel crew narrowed down the pool to 70 incredibly motivated people to move into the next round. They then interviewed the candidates and selected 30 to take part in their Entrepreneurship Development Programme that would coach them through the process of opening their own hostels and provide funding assistance to get off the ground. After the initial expansion of 30 hostels, the goal is to open 80-90 new properties by mid-2016.
The Zostel team wants to inspire more change than just encouraging entrepreneurs to open hostels though. They want to earn the confidence of travelers by establishing a standard of safety and quality in backpacker accommodation that will break down some of the fear and stigma currently attached to traveling in India by backpackers. Ultimately, they want to become the catalyst for a significant influx of backpacker tourism all across the country. By bringing backpacking into the spotlight in a positive way, they also hope that India’s youth will embrace the idea of gap year travel and be encouraged to embark on their own trips around the world.
For more information about Zostel, watch this interview with founder Akhil Malik. The video is time stamped below if you would like to jump to a specific section.