95+ Tips For Starting A Hostel – Managers Share Insights


How To Start A Hostel Tips

A total of 95 hostel managers shared first-hand insights by taking part in my survey and answering the following question: “What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a new hostel owner?”

I’ve spread all answers into 9 categories to make it easier for you to digest. Every chapter contains an additional piece of advice from TheHostelHelper – hence the “+” in ”95+”.

Without further ado, let’s dive in. 

95+ Tips For Starting A Hostel

#1 Preparation

#1

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Know your business well and be organized BEFORE problems happen.”

#2

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Learn from others who’ve been in the industry for decades.”

#3

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be prepared that it’s not only a full-time job, it’s a 24/7/365 job – at least until you have the right systems in place.”

#4

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Study tourism so you don’t get into a business you know nothing about. Make sure you develop a complete business plan and follow through.”

#5

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Do a market research to see if there’s even potential in your area for an additional hostel. Create a marketing plan. It’s good to have some savings to live off in case it doesn’t work out the way you planned.

Also, take global reports and the worldwide economy into account when doing your research. Get an in-depth understanding of your market or niche you want to attract. Finally, you’ve got to be willing to work your ass off and make it happen.

You gotta be in the trenches – don’t be an absentee owner.”

#6

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Make a business plan and stick to it – no matter what.”

#7

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Do a market research before getting started. Get to know your competition and your target market.”

Tips To Start A Hostel

#8

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Check, double-check, and triple-check all laws, regulations, and practices of the country in which you’re opening up your hostel.” 

#9

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be prepared. Know your targeted guests and learn how to serve them best-possible.”

#10

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Make financial calculations BEFORE you start. Also, consider worst- and best-case scenarios in your calculations.”

#11

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Do market research and learn about operating a hostel before you open one.”

#12

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Know your target market inside out!”

#13

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“If you don’t enjoy serving people, you probably don’t want to start a hostel. Looking and caring for others is what a hostel is all about.”

#14

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Research your guests. You have to know precisely what they want and need.”

#15 

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Work at a hostel for at least one year before running your own one.”

#16

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Try to be involved in everything at the start. And if you lack knowledge in a certain area, go study. But never completely rely on third party opinions.”

TheHostelHelper’s Recommendation

I was surprised when I read how many hostel owners labeled “market research” and “target market research” as their most important piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

But it’s true! Having a thorough understanding of the people you serve is the foundation of all your efforts. 

“By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

No doubt, preparation is an important step when starting your hostel. However, be aware that you cannot know everything before starting your hostel – and that’s totally okay.

The only thing you truly need is the confidence to be able to figure things out when they arise. With enough time and effort, you can master everything – and running a successful hostel is no exception.

“Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.” – this is what TheHostelHelper is all about. In this blog, you’ll find all the information you need to start and run a thriving hostel.

There are more than 15600 hostels worldwide. Part of my mission is to connect all of them so you can get access to this HUGE pot filled with wisdom and first-hand experiences.

#2 Hostel Location

#17

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Love the place you choose for your hostel because you will spend a lot of time there.”

#18

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Aim for the countries that have a backpacker culture. In general, international travelers are better than domestics.”

#19

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Understand the city/destination where you are working. Each area has its own idiosyncrasies.”

#20

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Research the location very well. It’s the key of your business.”

#21

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“My advice for people in Bangkok or similar areas: Visit the location during the rainy season. Flooding is a common occurrence here.”

#22

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Choose your location wisely. And stay calm with people and your neighborhood.”

#23

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Don’t open a hostel outside the city. The hostel should be inside the city.”

TheHostelHelper’s Recommendation

Choosing the right location for your hostel is a crucial element of your start. No questions asked.

Hence, I’ve already written an in-depth article about how to find the best location for your hostel that will help you out.

#3 Hostel Investments

#24

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Invest, but don’t be lavish in spending till you are established and you know that it’s working.”

#25 

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Hostels are a very price-sensitive market. Therefore, make investments that are justified by the going rate in your area.”

#26

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Analyze everything and check your numbers before you invest.”

#27

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Invest in a proper property management software and a channel manager from day one.”

#28

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“If it’s your first business, start small. Have as little debt as possible and kill it as soon as possible. Your goal is to create a successful business model. Once you’ve achieved that, you can invest more money knowing that you’ll get a return on your investments.”

#29

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Get a property management software right from the start. I spent 2 years waiting, convinced that Excel will do the job… but you don’t know what you’re missing out on if you’ve never given it a shot.”

#30

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Use a keypad as a front door lock and buy sheets, pillows, duvets in small amounts for the start.”

TheHostelHelper’s Recommendation

I agree 100% with the comments about property management systems and channel managers. They’ll make your life SO much easier.

I’ve already covered both topics on my blog starting with the basics up to specific recommendations based on an additional survey that I’ve conducted among hostel owners. 

Check out my article about property management systems (PMS) And if you’re new to hostel software, you might also want to read my guide about hostel channel managers.

#4 Hostel Organization

#31

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Always have enough hot water for guests and make sure you have commodities like toilet paper, etc. at hand.”

#32

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Create hostel rules right from the start and print them out for your guests.”

#33

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“It’s not only about personal time management, but it’s also about personal energy management. Spend it wisely.”

#34

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Always take payments in advance. You never know what happens during a guest’s stay.”

#35

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Plan your room arrangement cautiously. I can only offer dormitory rooms but I’d love to have additional private rooms as well.”

TheHostelHelper’s Recommendation

One addition to creating house rules: the free online tool “Canva” will help you create beautiful looking signs for your hostel. It has thousands of ready-to-use templates and is super intuitive to use.

For more awesome FREE tools and recommendations, visit my resources page.

#5 Hostel Business In General

#36

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Adapt. As the industry is changing, so should your hostel business. Always respect your own rules and keep your temper.”

#37

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Improve the relationships with all the stakeholders (the borough, providers, local facilities, etc.) and be sure to have something special to offer to your guests.”

#38

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Take care of all your numbers. They tell you the truth.”

#39

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“A clean hostel is a hostel with good reviews. Period.”

#40

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Selling beds will make you a living. Selling additional services will make you a fortune. Try to use your hostel as the gateway to sell other services.”

#41

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Make sure your hostel has its own identity. Don’t be ‘just another accommodation’. You have to be different.”

#42

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be present. If you want your hostel to be a successful hostel, you need to be there!”

#43

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Do a reception shift once in a while, check what’s going on during the night, talk with your guests… and have a good communication going with your employees. Treat them as though they are important – because they are!”

#44

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“You have to find the balance between ‘my dream hostel’ and ‘a profitable business’.”

#45

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Test, measure, improve. Test, measure, improve. Test, measure, improve.
It’s all about getting better than you were the day before.”

How To Start A Hostel - Tips

#46

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“You have to get your work/life balance right. In the beginning, it’s all about sacrifice, but there must come a time in which you have the systems in place that can do the work for you.”

#47

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Assume everyone is stupid. People are surprisingly unaware of basic stuff. They often lack life experience. Also, don’t stress too much. Things fall into place eventually. A messed up reservation is not the end of the world. You have to smile and say sorry. Guests are usually understanding.”

#48

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Never stop taking feedback. The moment you stop improving your hostel is the moment you decide that you’ll be out of business in a matter of years.”

#49

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Build your hostel with love and always think about the conservation of nature while doing so.”

#50

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Before spending money creating more rooms or bathrooms use what you have to its full capacity.”

#51

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Keep it simple. Simple, yet effective.”

TheHostelHelper’s Recommendation

In my opinion, the #1 mistake new hostel owners make is to try to do everything on their own.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with pulling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. But it develops into a problem if you don’t plan to create systems that will take care of it in the future.

The moment you start working ON your business, rather than solely IN your business is the moment you can focus on what really matters to make progress.

By the way: Did you know that franchise businesses have a failure rate of 25% whereas normal businesses have a failure rate of more than 95%? [Source] – That’s the power of systems.

#6 Hostel Marketing

#52

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Keep calm and advertise as much as possible.”

#53

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Create something that makes your guests want to tag your hostel on Facebook or Instagram.”

#54

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Renovate and maintain your hostel regularly to make it attract more guests.”

TheHostelHelper’s Recommendation

As a business owner, you are a marketing company. You’re not only in the business of serving guests but also in the business of MARKETING serving guests.

So, how do you get bookings?

Social media? – Not really. 

Your primary two sources for bookings will be your presence on various online travel agencies (OTAs) and direct bookings through your website.

I’ve already analyzed all OTAs that are used by the top 41 hostels worldwide. For further information, read my complete guide about OTAs including a full list.

Here is another article that will show you what social media CAN and CANNOT do for you and your hostel.

#7 Hostel Guest Service

#55

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Treat guests like your closest friends.”

#56

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Value customer service. It’s everything.”

#57

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Concentrate on creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for your guests.”

#58

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Create your hostel with your guests in mind. ‘Hospitality’ is just a technical name for ‘love’.”

#59

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Love your guests. If you really love them, great service is a natural consequence.”

#60

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Go above and beyond for your guests. They’ll reward you with a high review score which will bring more bookings in the future.”

#61

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Love and respect the people. Not only your staff, but also your guests.”

#62

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Try to impress your guests. Be extraordinary in various ways.”

#63

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be authentic, personal and honest when dealing with your guests.”

#64

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Always be polite and help others achieve their goal.” 

#65

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be as honest as you can with your guests. They will feel it and respect you for it.” 

#66

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Focus on creating an outstanding experience for your guests. Really take care of them.”

#67

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Love your guests and sincerely welcome them. Make them feel as they are your family.”

#68

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Good service is everything. Full stop.”

#69

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Do the best you can and treat all your guests as you expect and would like to be treated.”

TheHostelHelper’s Recommendation

There’s a reason why you don’t see me talking about “customers”, but rather about “guests”. Seeing your customers as “guests” or “part of your family” makes serving easier and more authentic.

If you take care of your guests, they’ll take care of your bank account.

In other words: The money you earn is a by-product of how well you serve your guests. Hence, I advocate you focus all your efforts on ‘wow’-ing your guests and tracking your overall ratings.

After all, studies have shown that an increase of 0.5 stars can justify a rise in prices of up to 35%. [1] If you like stats, you’ll love my article about the most stunning statistics on online reviews.

#8 Hostel Staff

#70

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“The right manpower makes or breaks your hostel business.”

#71

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Use a highly qualified person for the front desk and save your time testing temporary work/trade staff.”

#72

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“If you can find a partner to start a hostel – great! BUT clarify what you expect from each other BEFORE starting a hostel.”

#73

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be tolerant and respectful towards the people who work for you.”

#74

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Hire a good housekeeper and let your other staff concentrate on serving your guests.”

#75

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“If you hire a manager, give him the ‘feeling’ as if it’s his hostel! He has to be fully invested. Otherwise, he won’t care enough.”

#76

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Choose your partner and team wisely. It’s well worth spending some extra time before going with the ‘wrong’ people.”

#77

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Take care of your staff. They are the lifeblood of your hostel.”

#78

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Thoroughly investigate all your staff’s history and current situations in life. In 90% of cases, it will tell you how good they’re going to fit in and how long they’re probably going to stay.”

#79

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Create and design detailed manuals for your staff. Otherwise, you’ll start at square one whenever someone leaves.”

#80

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Don’t hire, invest in staff! It’ll pay out.”

#81

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Have a good cleaning company. It helps you focus on your actual business.”

TheHostelHelper’s Recommendation

I was surprised when I interviewed the top 10 hostels worldwide for their “success secrets”. So many of them mentioned the importance of having great staff, too.

I believe good staff is key to a profitable business. However, great staff is the key to a fortune.

#9 Mindset

#82

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be patient and understanding, but stand your ground.”

#83

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Find people to share your passion and do whatever it takes to stay motivated. You gotta know your WHY when times get tough.”

#84

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Do your very best. Effort always finds a way to reward you.”

#85

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be positive and focus on the bright side of things. If there’s a solution to the problem, there’s no need to stress out.”

#86

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be hands-on. Always. Anywhere. Anytime.”

#87

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Enjoy! You’ll learn SO MUCH as a hostel owner. In the end, it’s not about the result, it’s about the person you become in the process.”

#88

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Expect a HELL lot of headaches and a HELL of a lot of fun.”

#89

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Just start and solve things along the way. First problem – solve it, second problem – solve it, keep going…”

#90

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Don’t stress too much about disrespectful and unruly guests. They will be there on a daily basis. That’s just part of the business.

Enjoy the experience of being with the most awesome and kind-hearted people from all over the world and talk to them as much as possible. You will learn a lot from them.”

#91

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be patient and passionate about it. If money is your sole motivation, you’ll fail.”

#92

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Never, never, never give up and don’t get distracted by the few disrespectful guests. They will come… and they will go.”

#93

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Focus on keeping the main thing the main thing. Then it’s only a question of how hard you work to make things happen.”

#94

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Keep positive and do everything to be remembered as the ‘best host ever’.”

#95

My #1 piece of advice for new hostel owners is…

“Be patient. P a t i e n t.”

TheHostelHelper’s Recommendation

If you’d take everything away from Elon Musk, I bet that he’d be a millionaire again within one year. Why? – It’s a matter of mindset.

In the end, it’s all about your mindset. I recommend you make it a habit to read personal development books. One book that will cost you 4 hours to read it contains pretty much all the wisdom of an entire person’s life.

Even if it’s just listening 15min to an audiobook each day. It’s the small hinges that swing big doors in the long run.

Here are my 3 favorite books to get started: 

#1 Stephen R. Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

#2 Darren Hardy – The Compound Effect

#3 MJ DeMarco – Unscripted

Best Hostels Worldwide

Dedication:

I want to thank all participants for taking part in my survey, sharing their wisdom and being so helpful. Thank you for inspiring me. You’re the reason why this website exists.

STOP! 🤚

Before you leave: Answer this quick question and help our community.

Which one was your favorite?
And what’s the most important piece of advice YOU would give to a new hostel owner?

Share your opinion in the comment section below!

Join Our Community Of Like-Minded Hostel Owners!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

Once signed up, you will receive a weekly newsletter with helpful tips. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Sharing is caring 🙂

Kevin

Kevin is the founder of TheHostelHelper and a former German engineer in his late twenties. In the middle of his grad school studies, he started a consulting business and broke several branch records within the first six months… until he finally quit this venture to pursue his passion for hostels. Kevin is known for his super black humor – yet, super black might still be an understatement. He also LOVES dogs and drinks too much coffee. When he’s not obsessing about hostel topics you’re likely to find him at the gym – where the heavy weights are.

20 thoughts on “95+ Tips For Starting A Hostel – Managers Share Insights

  1. #84 is my favorite!
    I really enjoyed reading through all the answers.

    Kind regards,
    Aisling from Dublin, Ireland

    1. Thanks for your comment, Clara!

      For the others:
      #82 = “Be patient and understanding, but stand your ground.”
      #88 = “Expect a HELL lot of headaches and a HELL of a lot of fun.”

  2. I find #38 (take care of all your numbers – they tell you the truth) to be very true.
    And #80 (don’t hire, invest in staff) the most thought-provoking… I think there’s a lot of wisdom hidden in it.
    Thanks for your effort, Kevin!
    Keep it up.

  3. My favorites mention to treat ‘client’ as a guest and be kind and loving to them. go beyond.. those that combine these ideas. ( I am currently dealing with an intense head cold and so sorry if this is jumbled up)

    1. I agree, Kathy. The mindset behind “client” and “guest” is completely different.
      Hope you get well again soon!
      – Kevin

  4. I love number 58: “Create your hostel with your guests in mind. ‘Hospitality’ is just a technical name for ‘love’.”
    However, the challenge lies in making your staff care more about them.
    Marie

  5. I think #8 is the most valuable – especially when you’re located in the US or a country with similar strict regulations: Do the homework and check all the laws that you’ll encounter. It’s well worth it in my opinion.

  6. For me, #75 was the most helpful. I think that’s what’s lacking in our hostel… all the managers we had so far just didn’t care enough about our hostel…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Content