Hostel chains expanding in 2013: News keeps on breaking of big, well-known, award-winning chains expanding to all parts of the globe. This is especially true in Europe – where student, family and budget travel for business and independent travellers shows no signs of slowing down. A demand for trusted and cool budget accommodation is literally hitting new highs!
This is possibly fueled by the global financial crisis that we still find ourselves in…. ironically, somewhat complimenting our budget accommodation industry who are left asking ‘What GFC?!’ People still travel and it seems that what was not an option for some previously, now is… the rise of the hostel, or the concept of what a hostel should be and offer, keeps on adapting in these hard times and is reaping the benefits. People from hotel backgrounds are cashing in on the hostel product, bringing their expertise to the market.
For most the prominent chains, bookings and revenue are strong – making new openings possible. However, the news of the chains or ‘big boys’ coming to town has left a lot of smaller, independent properties quaking while they wait to see just what kind of impact the introduction of extra beds from brand expansions will have on their business. A great example is Barcelona, who this year alone are set to be inundated with a few thousand extra dorm beds.
As Product Manager at HostelBookers, if I look at the three brands that have recently won the ‘Best Chain’ category for our Awards for Excellence, I can see that 2013 is going to be a big year for expansion for them in particular. Recently while in Berlin for ITB, I managed to catch up with some of these brands…. and more.
So – the first three from our recent Awards:
GENERATOR – Berlin & Barcelona.
I went to a cool party they put on the night before ITB started. They billed the party as ‘ for one night only, rising from the foundations’ of the new property about to open in Berlin Mitte… and what a property it is set to be! It’s on the same strip as Meininger and well placed in a backpackers hub of town. However, this is just one city set to benefit from a Generator opening….. Barcelona will have two, a hostel and a hotel (same building, two entrances and receptions)…and other cities with strong, rumored interest include Rome, Milan and Amsterdam… no sign of slowing! Their new logo and re-branding is epic….. forget what you once knew…. Generator has jumped a few levels!
EQUITY POINT – Prague.
They have secured a prime location and building and renovation work and just about finished, with their newest property set to open just after Easter. A great location, just over Charles Bridge in the Mala Strana district….. an area screaming out for a classy hostel and boost of youth to its historic area under Prague Castle.
PLUS – tbc…
Currently riding high off the huge success of what is PLUS Berlin, which really upped the ante of their overall product and brand offering two years ago….. the PLUS crew are scouting for new locations and are set to make announcements soon…. speaking to some of the managers, it is clear that they are after steady growth, with the plan to open up a new property every few years… so I guess that time has come! Keep an eye on their website for their latest, exciting news http://www.plushostels.com
Now, other big brands about to expand that you probably know of if you travel / work in the industry:
ST CHRISTOPHER’S – Paris.
A second hostel for them in this beautiful city set to open soon, around the corner from Gare du Nord station….. how central can you get?! The recent opening of their Barcelona property has seen them rise to the top of Barcelona bookings and ratings quickly. They even won ‘Best Newcomer’ for the Barcelona property in HostelBookers Awards for Excellence… as well as ‘Most Popular’ for the Prague Mosaic House – so expectations ride high for what they can achieve in 2013…. expect more openings other than the immediate Paris open this Spring! http://www.st-christophers.co.uk/paris-hostels/gare-du-nord
MEININGER – Brussels & Barcelona.
They won ‘Best Value Hotel’ in HostelBookers recent ‘Awards for Excellence’. Interestingly, there has been a very recent shift in the ownership and management of this company – with Eric Van Dijk (previously overseeing the Generator expansion) being hired as part of the new Meininger line up. Meeting with a rep recently at ITB, I can confirm that there is strong focus on acquiring openings in London (more) and Amsterdam (new). Their Brussels property was the latest to open… an excellent budget choice hotel / hostel for the numerous business travellers the city attracts.
WOMBATS – Milan…. This is most likely set to open early in 2014…. as stated on the bottom of their email signatures. Their newer Budapest property has been a big success…..also picking up an Award for Excellence for Cleanliness. But don’t expect them to stop at Milan in 2013/14 either… great properties, giving travellers exactly what they want! http://www.wombats-hostels.com/about-us/investor-relations/
A&O Hostels – Vienna & Graz. By far the biggest ‘hostel’ chain…. Vienna opens this month and is massive at almost one thousand beds! Just look at their run sheet of locations they are scouting….if you were ever thinking of getting into the business, now is the best time
Most destinations mentioned are cheaply reached by budget airlines
HostelBookers ‘Awards for Excellence’ have announced their ‘Best Chains’ for 2013 and the winners are:
All are juggernauts in the industry and set for expansion in 2013.
Generator Berlin Mitte is due to open towards the end of April, along with their two Barcelona properties (Hotel & Hostel – same building, separate receptions). The growth that Generator has experienced in the last two years has been phenomenal. Long gone are the days of having a stand-alone property in London – they now hold fort in Hamburg, Venice, Dublin, Copenhagen and Berlin East. They have recently re-branded with a new bright pink logo and have modernised their look, moving away from the rave hey day of the nineties.
I was at ITB last week and attended a great party by Generator – billed as “rising from the ashes for one night only!” in the Mitte property. Great location for the hot ‘industrial Berlin’ party that ensued, with VJs, DJs spinning proper vinyl, fire performers and classy mixologists creating deadly cocktails for the night.
Equity Point is considered the most worldly of the three chains, with properties in the USA, UK, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Equity Point also opens in Prague within the next few weeks. It’s location can’t be beat, in close proximity to Charles Bridge in the ‘Old Town’, where you find the famous Prague Astronomical Clock. Equity has always fared well in regards to recognitions and industry awards, with a lot of other hostels trying to follow in their footsteps.
PLUS has really grown due to its Berlin opening a few years back, making it the third country it has foundations in. Infamous already for providing fun and varied accommodations in Italy, the chain also has a base in Prague…. and is rumoured to be eyeing off their next country to conquer! Their camping grounds and facilities really set the brand apart from the other winning chains…. if you want a real ‘Roman holiday‘ than this chain is definitely for you!
Congrats to all three on the amazing achievement and for forging their niche products in what has become an extremely cut-throat, competitive market
Check out all the Awards for Excellence winners here: http://www.hostelbookers.com/2013-top-accommodation/
Most destinations mentioned are cheaply reached by budget airlines