Hostel Revenue

Grow your hostel revenue: 17 insanely easy tips [that won’t break the bank]

Improve hostel revenue

Understanding hostel revenue management is great. 

Understanding hostel marketing is great. 

Understanding your guests is essential. 

But when you do ALL THREE? That’s when you can slap an “S” on your chest……because you’ll be unstoppable. 

I have something that will make you feel like you have hostel revenue superpowers: 17 insanely actionable hostel revenue tips that you can start using right now to increase your sales in low season.

1. Use the Groupie Method to attract bands and musicians to your hostel. 2 prong attack

Don’t worry!

It’s not as dirty as it sounds.

We all know groupies want to sleep with the band.

Well here, the band sleeps with YOU.

In a nutshell:
There are numerous sites and platforms where bands hang out online and promote themselves.
Sign up
Engage with the community
Get bookings and improve your hostel revenue

How I hear you ask?

Create a profile on 1, 2, or a few of these sites.

Examples are:
Site 3

Upload some original music if possible.

Record that guy that became unbelievably sexy when he picked up the guitar in the hostel common room

Record the common room at 8pm

Record breakfast

Record some other live music or event that happened in your hostel

Record a check in

Record a receptionist playing the spoons

A toilet flushing, whatever

Mix it all together and creatively call it something like Hostel Sounds 

Sweet! Profiles complete let’s move on to...

...checking the events pages of your local venues to see how many bands from out of town are visiting and when. (You’d be very surprised)

Here’s a real life example.

Let’s say I’m in Lyon.

Now, I don’t know any music venues in Lyon.

So I did a quick google search.

Hostel revenue music venues


I popped over to Sonic’s website  to see what's happening.

On their events page I see a list of all their upcoming events and where the performers are from.

Hostel revenue music venues

Wand all the way from L.A. are coming to town.

Now, how do I connect with them?


Scroll further down the page and
you’ll usually find:

A link directly to their Bandcamp profile.

Hostel revenue in Lyon


You’ve already created a bandcamp profile...

... and if you haven’t you will now!

Find them. 

Follow them.

F… wait. eh Love them. 

Leave a comment on their profile

Now, Wand and their psychedelic pop garage might not be the ones to fill your hostel beds in low season but I think you can see how powerful the groupie Method can be.

To sum up:
Find the bands on the platforms you signed up to

Like them.

Like their tunes.

Pick a favourite.

Tell them why you like that song and also that you can’t wait to go to the show.

BAM, now they know you exist.

When you created your profile, as an added bonus, you  created a few links pointing back to your website, showing how cool you are and that band should probably consider staying with you.

What next?


Connect with some local bands.

This also puts you in front of locals that may have friends and family coming to visit at some point and this will put you on their radar..

Phase one complete, you have created your online groupie persona.
Well done!

Phase 2 will involve hitting the streets and making sure the local venues know about you and how AWESOME you are.

There are, hopefully, some live music venues not to far from your hostel, and/or  you occasionally have live music in your hostel.

There’s a very high chance that your hostel guests have been to the venues, and drop a fair bit of cash behind the bar.


There’s  a high chance that some of the problems faced by venues are:

1) working with hotels and their policies 
2)the cost of working with hotels and their policies
3)trying to find friends with couch space for the band (this happens a lot)


YOU can create your own policy to work with them
YOU come with with a price that will fill your hostel’s low season and mid-week beds
YOU are more than happy to let them put their promotional posters in your hostel
YOU have the beds baby, you have the beds…

2. Use the power of University groups, teams and events to your hostels advantage

I LOVE this.

With a little bit of research.

A little bit of luck.

Some hard work.

You’ll be filling those low season beds in no time.

Universities and colleges generally have many, many sports teams, groups et al, et al.

They compete against other teams from other schools.

There are 4 beautiful things about this:
They love promoting their events on their website. Easy to find info

Universities sports group aren’t renowned for being organised and sometimes leave the accommodation to the last minute.

YOU can save the day and become the easy option that’s within budget :)

It’s potentially a massive market to promote YOURSELF in

If you can snag a couple of links from the University website, Google will like you just a tiny bit more. It is true that .edu links aren’t as powerful as they used to be but definitely won’t do your Hostel SEO any harm. (more on that later)

They usually always pay in advance

Reach out to the Student Union (host and visiting university) or the contact of the visiting group, which can usually be found on their homepage.

List of student union cork

You’ll soon learn how your local universities work with regards accommodation and can build that information into your strategy for improving your hostel revenue from September to June.

3. Leverage the fact that local sports teams will have people visiting that’ll need a bed in your hostel


I’m not just talking about local football and basketball teams here.

There are people in your region that have a varied array of interests and love meeting people with the same interests anywhere.

How to you do it?

Generate a list of alternative sports, hobbies and interests. 

Hop over to google and search for “list of hobbies”

I found a wiki page with hundreds of hobbies.

list of hobbies for hostel revenue

Copy them ALL into the spreadsheet. (I know, I know. The local knitting posse aren’t going to need beds. Their grandkids might though!)

This is where we start mining for gold.

Go back to our good friend google and run a search for each result in the final column.

Pretty cool!

Then it’s pretty much a case of reaching out to them.

4. Build relationships with other hostels, guesthouses and B&Bs

Done correctly.

This works a treat.

Do other hostels send you guests when they’re full?

Do hostels in the next town over contact you to try and book a bed for their guests?

You're thinking:

“Yes, no, sometimes, maybe”

For this to work you’ll need your reception staff on board.

Not only that, but you’ll need other hostels staff to engage too.

What probably currently happens:

Guest: Do you know somewhere cool to stay in XXXXX?

Receptionist: No. Just check or Hostelworld. That’s the best.

Guest: Ok, cool. I just wanted a recommendation.

Receptionist: (Head back down and checking Instagram and Facebook)

Guest: I’d even take a Lonely Planet recommendation at this stage…

What can happen:

Guest: Do you know somewhere cool to stay in XXXXX?

Receptionist: Yeah dude! Scruffy Fluffy Backpackers is awesome. It’s not the highest rated on Hostelworld but the vibe is awesome and staff are great. The buildings a bit old but it’s clean and the location is great. To be honest, their breakfast is even better than ours

Guest: Wow, that sounds great. Should I book ahead or just rock up?

Receptionist: I’ll give them a quick call and ask.

Guest: Cheers, thanks!

Receptionist: Right, they have a few beds left and advised to book ahead. Their beds are 10% cheaper on their website and you don’t pay a booking fee.

Guest: That’s awesome! Thanks for much for your help :)

Receptionist: You’re welcome! (Head back down and checking Instagram and Facebook)

This can and did happen in a hostel I ran.
One hostel in particular I worked with was just take, take, take. 

They never recommended anyone to anywhere else, so the other hostels in our mini-network stopped recommending them.
It was good though.

We found another partner in their town and the relationships really blossomed

5. Create relationships with other local businesses to help create a Buzz around your hostel brand

A wise man once told me:

 “I’m convinced, I only need one person to fill my hostel”

It took a while for that to sink in my head, too long in fact.

When I saw the evidence that “one person to fill my hostel” was bang on the money I started trying to think of ways to find that “one person”

The idea from getting the bands and sports teams where born from that mantra.

Find that:“ONE PERSON”

Everyone’s trying to make a buck, pound, euro or whatever.

Align yourself with other businesses near you.

Local cafe - You have guests that drink coffee
Local bakery - You have guests that love cakes
Local bar - You have guests that drink
Local restaurant - You have guests that eat
Local museum - You have guests that dig that
Local gallery - You have guests that love pretending to love art

Invite the owner, manager, staff around to your place to see what you have to offer.

The “anti-hostel” ones will be pleasantly surprised at how hostels have developed since that school trip they went on in the winter of ‘84.

Tell them: You already send guests to their places, which you do, of course. 

You’re really just letting everyone around know what you are, do etc. etc. etc

You think they’re great and their competition is great TOO

Now, you’ve just said you love their competition too. 

You’ve done your part.

By doing this you’ve already suggested they should could get more business from you by working more closely with you.

They can go away and be marketing geniuses.

Let’s see how long it takes them to come back with a special offer for your guests.

Aligning with local businesses can be great for adding perceived value for your guests and may help with reviews and such.

We need to go back to the mantra:

“I only need one person to fill my hostel”

The more people in the local area you build a relationship with the more likely you are to find that one person.

You have no idea what hobbies and interests your neighbours have and you won’t until you reach out and establish that connection.

6. Make sure your hostel website is optimised for mobile

Some facts.

Over 55% of all Google searches are from mobile devices.

That equates to…

...almost 30 billion more searches on mobile than desktop.

In 2015 Google rolled out its Mobile-Friendly Update.

Fine for websites where users traditionally searched using desktop.

But any websites that were getting traffic via mobile and didn’t have their site optimized were hit.

And hit hard.

Google now shows mobile results for ALL it’s searches.

Even from Desktop.

Now you’re thinking…


How can I check if my site is optimized or not?

Luckily Google has 2 pretty cool tool in their search console

Google’s Mobile Usability Test
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

These 2 test examine your site thoroughly and tell you what if anything you need to get your webmaster-seo-hostel-guru-ninja to fix.

Last bit of advice on this topic for now.

Make sure your website is responsive and isn’t using some other outdated way of getting your site on mobile.

7. Is your booking engine responsive?

As above


Some hostel booking engines are hosted externally


Most are savy enough to have responsive booking engines


Some aren’t


Just check to be on the safeside.

8. Engage your guests with a hotel chatbot

When someone lands on your website engage them immediately with a hotel chatbot.

Follow the link above and see a hotel chatbot example in action.

9. Give discount on direct bookings

Your guests are more internet savvy than they used to be.

Many prefer to book direct and use the OTAs just to search.

Offer a 5-10% discount for booking on your website.

Bonus: You’re stopping that horrendous commision to the OTA and…Your guest thinks they just got a bargain.

10. Allow booking from Social Media

Add the functionality to your Facebook page to book your hostel directly.

11. Highlight your amenities clearly / USP

Make it clear on your hostels website what you offer.

Help the guest make the decision to click your lovely and prominent book now button

Got a bar?
Mention it, snap it, sell it...

Got breakfast?
Mention it, snap it, sell it...

Got a tour?
Mention it, map it, sell it...

Got a pool?
Mention it, snap it, sell it…

Got an awesome location?
Mention it, map it, sell it

The more you highlight what you have and what makes it different mean you will not only get more direct hostel bookings but also the right people for your hostel.

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