11 Effective Hostel Marketing Tips to Attract More Guests

April 24, 2023 Nicky. M
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So you want to know how to attract more guests for your hostel business? You’re not alone. With workplace flexibility and digital nomads on the upswing, hostel competition is becoming more and more intense. Fortunately, you’ll have the upper hand with hostel management software in your corner. Here are 11 effective hostel marketing tips and tools to help you get more bookings.

Who is the Target Market for Hostels?

The target market for hostels is typically a younger demographic of budget travellers, young adult tour groups, backpackers, digital nomads, solo travellers, and couples. Hostelworld, the leading OTA for hostels, reports that 80% of its users are under 35 years old.

Workplace flexibility has made it easier for people to turn their wanderlust into reality. This is encouraging news for hostel operators who can attract more guests by offering amenities like workspaces with free Wi-Fi and extra services like food tours in the city.

11 Effective Ways to Promote Your Hostel in 2023

Young travelers in hostel planning trips | Hostel marketing

1. Make sure your hostel is easily bookable online

Reach your target audience where they spend the most time: online! Don’t forget about the powerful influence of online travel agents (OTAs) like Booking.com and Hostelworld. Not only are they essential sales channels, but they are extensively used for researching and planning trips.

List your hostel on at least 3-5 popular online booking sites without risking overbookings with the help of hostel management software, known as a channel manager.

The powerful tool integrates with major OTAs and automatically updates your hostel’s availability in real-time when a booking is made and when you make any rate changes to your listings. More importantly, it keeps your reservations calendar synced across your connected channels.

Free Buyer’s Guide: Channel Management Software for Hotels & Hosts

2. Offer the best available rates on your website

One great way to drive more bookings for your hostel is to advertise a direct booking discount code on your website that can be applied directly through your booking engine software. This is an invaluable tool in any successful hostel marketing strategy. The ability to offer potential guests an attractive promotion quickly makes them feel like they are getting a better deal than your competitors and OTAs offer.

Did you know?

Contrary to popular belief, “giving a 15% discount for hostel direct bookings will make more money than a booking from the OTA with 15% commission,“ according to Evan Davies from The Booking Factory. He suggests that the net booking value for direct bookings far outweighs OTA bookings in customer lifetime value.

3. Reach out to past guests with offers they can’t resist

Hostel marketing can be a tricky business. You want to attract guests but don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it. One way to keep costs down and bolster bookings is by offering incentives or discounts to past guests.

You can launch targeted post-stay email campaigns if you have a property management system that captures guest data like birthdays and preferences. You can also promote a special package rate for an upcoming event that’s exclusively bookable on your website.

4. Get a shout-out from travel bloggers and vloggers

Word of mouth is not dead. It’s alive and thriving in the digital world. People are drawn to a source they trust, making authentic peer reviews and influencer referrals much more significant among young travellers and backpackers today.

Targeting travel bloggers/vloggers who specialise in creating content around budget-friendly accommodation options can be beneficial to promote your hostel. By tapping into their networks, you can get the message about your hostel out there quickly and effectively.

According to a study, user-generated content (UGC) drives travellers’ planning and decisions. UGC topics like accommodation, pricing, and attractions were considered more reliable than other information sources, such as travel agents and official websites.

5. Build a strong relationship with tour operators

With a similar target audience, hostels are popular among tour operators like Contiki and G Adventures. By collaborating with these businesses, you can create win-win situations that result in more visitors to your hostel and a better experience for their customers.

It’s important to use hostel software that can handle the demand of tour operators. RoomRaccoon offers an easy way to collaborate with tour operators by enabling hostels and hostel staff to supply direct booking codes and establish booker profiles with discounted rates. This eliminates the need for extensive manual effort from your side, giving you the assurance that your calendar will remain full without any extra effort.

6. Highlight the social nature of your hostel to potential guests

For young explorers, hostels hold the promise of new friendships, epic adventures, and lasting memories. Highlighting your hostel’s communal feel, spacious common areas, and nearby attractions is essential to entice potential guests.

Social media channels like TikTok and Instagram are effective for hostel marketing. Nowadays, travellers are likely to take a peek at your hostel’s page on these channels for further details and information. This presents an excellent chance to develop a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) with posts that speak to your target audience.

Free Guide: 20+ Instagram Post Ideas For Hotels

Mock-up of hostal Instagram page
Hostal Instagram

7. Create group packages tailored to your target audience

Group bookings for hostels represent a goldmine as this type of reservation maximises profitability by increasing a hostel’s occupancy. Not to mention additional services such as meals, transport, and excursions offered to groups can lead to substantial revenue streams.

Make sure that you have hostel management software that’s designed to accommodate and optimize group bookings. RoomRaccoon’s software allows your hostel and staff to effectively manage group bookings with smart features like group rate plans, group billing, and bulk check-in and check-out.

8. Use positive guest reviews to your advantage

When it comes to attracting guests to your hostel, online reputation management can be a powerful marketing strategy. By highlighting positive reviews from past guests, you can give potential guests confidence that your property is clean, comfortable, and well-run. On top of that, by responding to negative reviews in a professional and courteous manner, you can show that you are committed to providing excellent customer service.

9. Get listed on Google My Business and Google Hotel Ads

List your hostel on Google My Business. It’s a free marketing tool that helps potential guests easily find and connect with your business. Customers searching for your business on Google will see a knowledge panel with your business profile and contact information. With an up-to-date business profile, you can ensure customers have the right information to contact you, access your website, and find your physical location.

Good to know

Additionally, having an active presence on Google My Business can improve your website’s search engine rankings.

Google My Business offers a great way for accommodation providers to boost their direct bookings – Google Hotel Ads. When you sign up, these ads will be included in your listing and direct searchers to your website or integrated booking engine. Though, keep in mind that enrollment is available only via Google’s approved integration partners.

10. Partner with local businesses to offer extra services

Young travellers on tour bus | hostel marketing

“Hostelling” is no longer just a place to stay in a dormitory. It is an experience far beyond that. Many leading hostels go the extra mile and include various extra services as part of their offerings.

In addition to your hostel services, why not consider joining forces with nearby businesses and providing extra service for your hostel marketing? You could offer bicycle rentals, transport options, guided tours of the city, or even hiking trips on your website. This will open up more avenues for potential customers to explore and keep your hostel flag up even in the off-season.

And by using hostel upselling software such as an automated guest service menu, you can ensure that guests are aware of these services before they even arrive. This way, the guest knows what to expect and can make full use of their stay.

11. Vary your prices beyond the traditional high and low seasons

It’s no secret that price-conscience travellers prefer hostels with the most attractive rates. However, that doesn’t mean you should reduce your rates to attract more guests.

When major events occur in your area or competing accommodations are fully booked, hostel operators can reap immense benefits by adjusting their rates accordingly. Unfortunately, many of them limit themselves to simply raising and lowering prices for peak and off-peak seasons and miss out on the potential to maximize revenue.

Revenue management software can be a great asset for hostels to optimize their rates based on room-sell probability. RoomRaccoon’s software automatically adjusts prices based on both market data and performance metrics, providing an easy way for hostels to keep up with their competition and other market conditions.

How RoomRaccoon’s Hostel Management Software Can Improve Your Hostel Marketing

Technology has taken an essential role during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, smart tools and software solutions that were previously considered add-ons to the guest experience are essential in the post-pandemic hospitality space.

Armed with RoomRacoon’s all-in-one hostel management system, hostels can remain competitive with smart pricing tools, enjoy more avenues for growing revenue, and expand their visibility. Here’s a list of key benefits that result in more bookings and better guest experiences:

  • More integrated channels, greater visibility.
  • Direct booking page, fewer commission fees.
  • Group booking capabilities, increased occupancy.
  • Direct discount codes, increased guest loyalty.
  • Online check-in/check-out, better guest experiences.

Book a free software demo to learn how you can streamline and accelerate your hostel’s marketing efforts with RoomRaccoon’s all-in-one platform.

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Nicky. M

Nicky is RoomRaccoon's Senior Content Manager, combining a love for travel with a practical approach to improving hotel performance through tech and insightful tips. Join her journey where travel, hospitality, and technology meet.

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