From being one of the first hostels to open in the UK to converting historical buildings into design-led, functional accommodation – we have never been shy of setting trends and innovating. But as well as being good for guest experience and PR, why is being innovative so important for hostel brands?

1. Innovation and adaptability are keys to success in business

For many in the hospitality sector, the last year has been an endless stream of challenges and roadblocks. For us, 2020 saw our guest numbers decline to an all-time low.  Needless to say, we needed to adapt and fast! To combat our falling guests numbers we decided to pivot our business model and adapt our product by adding competitively priced Mid-stay rates and half-board packages. By placing desks in rooms, upgrading internet connections, and creating safe working spaces we were able to attract new guest types including ex-pats, students, and digital nomads. Being a hostel that primarily caters to backpackers, groups and shorter staying guests, this was a tough decision. However, making these changes at the inception of the pandemic helped us stay ahead of our competitors and achieve between 30-40% occupancy. To date, we’ve managed to sell over 50,000 Mid-stay bed nights – and counting.

2. Innovation makes new revenue streams

Our new guest breakdown meant a new series of challenges for our in-house team, especially in the catering department. Although we already had a self-catering kitchen pre-covid-19, it couldn’t handle the increase in guests and the new social distancing measures. To ensure the safety of our guests we decided to innovate our F&B offering by add four brand new portable kitchen stations, perfect for socially distanced meal preparation.  We also updated our in-house food offering by adding full and half board options to enable guests’ access to freshly made, locally sourced, affordable meals. Our guests loved our new menu, so we decided to share it on UberEATS with our neighbours too and develop a new, alternative revenue stream – every little helps.

3. Innovation makes for a better guest experience

As ‘contactless’ guest journeys became an essential part of travel during Covid-19, we decided it was time to finalise another project we had been working on in the background, Goki. Goki is a smart lock from down-under that offers guests contactless access to rooms and a connection to other guests and our team without the physical touch. As well as reducing the need for plastic check-in keys and improve communication with guests, the platform also allowed our reception team to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time interacting with guests and their needs. The Goki app is also a great tool for upselling products or sharing any in-house updates, promotions with guests.

As we look back over the year, it becomes clear that if we hadn’t been proactive in pivoting our business model to attract new guest types, we may not have survived. Our innovative approach to guest experience allowed us to continue making revenue but also continue doing what we love the most – bringing people and places together.