Hostels are increasingly exploring other revenue streams and growth opportunities as a new generation of hybrid hostels enters the market, said hostel operators at the ITB conference in Berlin.
Hybrid hostels blend features of traditional hostels, like common areas, with hotel-style amenities like private rooms, said Frank Uffen, the Director Marketing & Partnership at The Student Hotel in Amsterdam.
"The Student Hotel is a hostel in the traditional sense," said Uffen. "But now we can accommodate and target certain groups with special needs by offering things like meeting spaces or classrooms."
Uffen said that an increasing portion of The Student Hotel's revenue comes from renting out classrooms or dining spaces to the company's guests.
These activities have the added bonus of connecting guests to external parties in the areas or neighborhoods they are staying in.
"It's the idea of being a social hub and being known as a place where people can drop in for a coffee," said Uffen. "Hostels acted much earlier than hotels to take away those traditional boundaries."
Uffen said it's important that hostels continue focus on promoting a sense of curiosity among guests to attract and retain younger customers.
"There is something sexy about hostels that relates to a certain time in your life when things are new and you are flirting with ideas or culture and seeking things that are not very practical," said Uffen. "We think of being a student as a spirit – and we encourage this kind of generational promise to grow at our facilities."
Still, some investors have been slow to come around to the idea of hybrid hostels, he said.
"Investors seemed to perceive this as a risk – mixing groups like students and hotel guests – but it came natural to us as entrepreneurs," said Uffen.
The Student Hotel's focus on quality and innovative design shows they are in touch with younger customers' perspective and desires.
"The design signals to students that we don't see you at the bottom of the food chain," said Uffen. "We understand their aspirations and want to help them grow.
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