23 Most Surprising Statistics About Hostels In 2020

Hostel Statistics

Interested in jaw-dropping new statistics about hostels? Then look no further.

In this article, you’ll find a list of statistics and facts that I’ve collected through my own research and analysis. Hence, you won’t find any links to external sources.

If you have any further questions, just leave a comment below and I’ll answer it.

Alrighty. Time to let the charts do the talking.

#1 One Out Of Five Hostels Does Not Have A Website In 2020

With the help of 7 freelancers, I’ve analyzed 9,996 hostels around the world. The result: 1,924 of them (19,2%) do not have a website.

Let me repeat that: In 2020 (!) one out of five hostels does NOT have a website! 😲

A website in combination with a booking engine is key to not only receive direct bookings but also to become more independent from online travel agencies.

If you’re one of them, check the resources below. It has never been easier to build a hostel website that looks awesome within minutes.

Helpful resources:

#2 a&o Is The Largest Hostel Chain Worldwide With 39 Properties

With 28,500 beds, a&o is also – by far – the largest hostel chain when it comes to the total number of beds.

Only five hostel chains manage more than 20 properties:

  • #1 a&o Hostels (39)
  • #2 Zostel (37)
  • #3 Meininger (30)
  • #4 St Christopher’s Inns (26)
  • #5 Nomads World (25)

By comparison:

  • The largest hotel chain has 8,092 properties
  • The largest motel chain has 1,400 properties

Helpful resources:

#3 With A Market Share Of 41% Cloudbeds’ PMS Is Leading The Field In Hostel Software

This is the survey result among 91 hostel owners:

PMS is short for “Property Management System“. The main purpose of such a system is to simplify managing your reservations.

Further facts:

Did you know that only readers of TheHostelHelper can get access to the exclusive deal to receive a 50$ bonus + a 10% lifetime discount for Cloudbeds’ PMS?

Helpful resources:

#4 Only 16 Different Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) Are Used By The Most Successful Hostels

This is the surprising result of my analysis of the top 40 hostels worldwide. After all, there are more than 400 online travel agencies worldwide to choose from.

Only 7 online travel agencies are used by the majority of the top 40 hostels worldwide:

  • #1 Hostelworld.com 100%
  • #2 Booking.com 98%
  • #3 Agoda.com 88%
  • #4 Expedia.com 76%
  • #5 Hostelz.com 61%
  • #6 Traveloka.com 56%
  • #7 Ostrovok.ru 51%

Further statistics:

  • Hostelworld is the only online travel agency used by all of the top 40 hostels worldwide
  • The average commission of the 16 most used OTAs for hostels is 12.9%

Helpful resources:

#5 A Staggering 56% Of Hostels Use Cloudbeds’ Channel Manager “MyAllocator”

This is the jaw-dropping survey result among 91 hostel owners:

A channel manager allows you to automatically synchronize your availability and rates across all distributions channels (OTAs, social media, hostel websites, etc.).

MyAllocator is also the ONLY channel manager that is able to add all of the 16 most common online travel agencies for hostels. Other channel managers are mostly built for hotels.

By the way: Did you know that you’ll get this channel manager for FREE if you opt for Cloudbeds’ property management software?

Helpful resources:

#6 A Total Of 63% Of Hostels Use A Minimum Age Policy

Here’s the result of my analysis of the top 30 hostels worldwide:

The main purpose of age restrictions is to bolster the community of a hostel. After all, millennials prefer to connect with people of their own age instead of kids.

Further statistics:

  • Only 20% of hostels use maximum age restrictions starting at the age of 36 years and older
  • Several hostels with age limits cut their guest a break and allow kids to stay in private rooms with their parents

Helpful resources:

#7 More Than 45% Of Hostels Miss Out On SEO In Their Names

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the process of making your webpages ranking high in Google search results.

My analysis of 10,109 hostels worldwide shows which keywords are most used in the names among hostels worldwide.

The rule is simple:

When starting a hostel, call it a “hostel”. Full stop.

This ensures that people can easily find you online.

Further statistics:

  • 16% of hostels even use special letters (&-#_$!’?@) or numbers (1234567890) in their names
    → an absolute no-go!
  • “.com” is with 43% the most used and trusted domain extension worldwide

Helpful resources:

#8 “Guest Satisfaction” Is The #1 Challenge Of Hostels Worldwide

These are the answers to my survey among 279 hostel owners worldwide:

The top 5 challenges among hostels are:

  • #1 Guest Satisfaction: Ensuring a positive experience.
  • #2 Staff: Hiring, managing, and keeping great hostel staff.
  • #3 Competition: Remaining profitable even when more and more hostels enter the market.
  • #4 Marketing: Finding the most effective method to attract guests.
  • #5 Occupancy: Increasing the occupancy rate.

Helpful resources:

#9 Asia Is With 37% The #1 Continent When It Comes To The Overall Number Of Hostels

There are 15.700 hostels worldwide, spread across the 6 continents.

Number of hostels per continent:

  • 5,800 in Asia (37%)
  • 4,800 in Europe (30%)
  • 2,400 in South America (16%)
  • 1,500 in North America (9%)
  • 700 in Oceania (5%)
  • 500 in Africa (3%)

Helpful resources:

#10 About 57% Of Hostels Do Not Allow Smoking On Their Premise

This is the result of my analysis of the top 30 hostels worldwide:

Further statistics:

  • 17% of hostels do not accept credit card payments upon arrival
  • 87% of hostels include merchant fees in their rates and do not charge extra for it

Helpful resources:

#11 Thailand Counts 1154 Hostels And Is The #1 Country With The Most Hostels

Unsurprisingly, Thailand is also the country in which hostel owners complained the most about “high competition” in my survey about the #1 challenge of hostels.

Thailand has more than

  • 4 times the number of hostels of the USA and
  • 5 times the number of hostels of Germany (where the hostel concept originated).

Thailand’s population is approx. 60 million people. That means there’s one hostel for every 52,000 people. This number is referred  to as the “hostel density rate”.

Helpful resources:

#12 Africa Has The Lowest Hostel Density Rate (1:1,315,000)

In other words: For every hostel, there are 1,3 million people living in Africa.

Before starting a hostel in Africa, keep in mind that the hostel density rate does not take into account the number of tourists per year.

This explains why you can find one hostel in Oceania for every 45,000 inhabitants which still enjoys high occupancy rates.

Helpful resources:

#13 Iceland Has The Highest Hostel Density Rate (1:8,500) Among All Countries Worldwide

Simply put: There’s one hostel for every 8,500 people living in Iceland.

Hostels Stats

New Zealand and Croatia rank #2 and #3.

Interesting fact:

  • When I traveled through New Zealand in 2019, it didn’t feel like there are that many hostels due to the fact that most of the country is not really populated.

Helpful resources:

#14 China Has The Lowest Hostel Density Rate (1:4,500,000) Among All Countries Worldwide

Yes, you read that right. There are almost 4.5 million inhabitants living in China per hostel.

Lowest Hostel Density Rate

The US ranks on place 10 with around 1,1 million inhabitants per hostel. However, it feels like everyone is talking about the huge potential in the US.

Helpful resources:

#15 Facebook Is With 90% The Most Used Social Media Plattform Among Hostels

This is the result of my analysis of the top 40 hostels worldwide:

With an average of 4,400 followers, Facebook is also the #1 social media platform for social proof:

  • Instagram: 3,800 followers
  • Twitter: 600 followers

None of the top 40 hostels worldwide uses YouTube, Snapchat, or Pinterest actively.

Helpful resources:

#16 Only 10% Of Hostels Accept Pets

This is the result of my analysis of the top 30 hostels worldwide:

The additional revenue potential doesn’t seem to justify the many disadvantages of accommodating pets (allergies, dog phobias, gnawed furniture, etc.).

Helpful resources:

#17 More Than 50% Of Hostels Worldwide Use Social Media Every Week

Being active between several times a week and several times a month seems to be the sweet spot between “too much” and “too little” activity among the top 40 hostels worldwide.

Further statistics:

  • Less than 10% of the top 40 hostels are active on twitter on a monthly basis.
  • 50% of hostels are completely inactive on twitter
  • 8% of hostels update their Instagram feed daily

Helpful resources:

#18 “Unruly Guests” Is The #1 Challenge Among Hostel Owners In Oceania

This is the result of my survey among 27 hostel owners in Oceania:

Interestingly, “unruly guests” have not been mentioned even once from hostel owners in Asia. It seems like they take complete responsibility for their guest’s behavior and approach their business with a true service mentality.

Further statistics:

  • “Competition” is the #1 challenge among hostels in Asia (21%)
  • “Staff” is the #1 challenge in Europe (25%) and North America (23%)

Helpful resources:

#19 Most Hostels Rely On Metal Bunk Beds

This is the result of my analysis of the top 40 hostels worldwide:

The most common reason for choosing metal bunk beds over wooden beds is for bed bug prevention.

Here are further statistics about bunk beds:

  • 70% of hostels worldwide use commercial bunk beds (instead of domestic ones)
  • None of the hostels uses triple bunk beds

Helpful resources:

#20 Only 5% Of The Top 20 Hostels Respond To Positive Online Reviews

Fun fact: I tried to analyze how many of the most successful hostels respond to negative online reviews. However, most of them don’t have a single bad review!

It seems like responses to positive reviews do not bring a return on investment (ROI).

Helpful resources:

#21 Check-In At 3 PM and Check-Out At 11 AM Is The Standard Among Most Hostels

By copying what the top 30 hostels worldwide do, you’ll have a window of 4 hours to prepare the beds for your next guests.

Further statistics:

  • None of the top 30 hostels has check-in later than 3 pm

Helpful resources:

#22 “Cultural Differences” Is The Main Reason Why There Are So Few Hostels In The US

This is the result of a survey I conducted among 41 US hostel owners:

The top 4 reasons are:

  • #1 Cultural Differences (26%)
  • #2 Lack of Awareness (18%)
  • #3 Sharing Aspect (18%)
  • #4 Misconceptions (11%)

Helpful resources:

#23 Only 30% Of Hostels Make Use Of A Maximum Stay Policy & 7% Of A Minimum Stay Rule

Here’s the result of my analysis of the top 30 hostels worldwide:

However, about 2/3 of them have minimum stay requirements around special days (e.g. Christmas & New Year’s Eve).

Further statistics:

  • 20% of hostels even restrict groups (max. 3, 4, 6, 8 people) to improve the social aspect for solo travelers

Helpful resources:


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6 thoughts on “23 Most Surprising Statistics About Hostels In 2020

  1. I’m not 100% sure if that’s correct but I heard about some statistics a few months ago that an average hostel room brings in 142% of the revenue compared to an average hotel room. Can’t remember the source…

    1. Ui, that’d be nice. I haven’t read about such a statistic before.
      Thanks for sharing!

  2. I read that the average occupancy rate of hostels worldwide is about 56%. And I always wondered how they can survive with such a low occupancy! We’d have to close within a year or so if business would be that bad.

    1. That’s actually true. I read it from a study in 2010.
      However, I’m not sure if it’s still accurate.
      But I agree. 56% shouldn’t be the goal.

  3. We tested a minimum stay policy in our hostel for about 3 weeks. The result: A lot more work to organize and several bad reviews. It’s not worth it in my opinion. (Except for New Year’s and maybe Christmas…)

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