MERGER announced – HostelBookers & Hostelworld

HBlogo

Big news finally announced after months of negotiation.

Check out statements from both companies so far and look out for individual press releases!

http://www.hostelbookers.com/content/press/web-reservations-international–wri–agrees-acquisition-of-hostelbookers/

http://www.irishtimes.com/business/wri-acquires-hostelbookers-1.1357196

 

WRI

Advertisements

ACQUISITION of HostelBookers by WRI

HBlogo

Check out statements from both companies and look out for individual press releases!

Here’s what can be said so far:

http://www.hostelbookers.com/content/press/web-reservations-international–wri–agrees-acquisition-of-hostelbookers/

http://www.irishtimes.com/business/wri-acquires-hostelbookers-1.1357196

WRI

Best Value Cheap Hotels

Easter is already here – missed out on a sneaky trip?! Well how about you start to plan where you’re off to later this European Spring or Summer and snap up some cheap accommodation pronto! These hotels have been voted by HostelBooker’s customers, over the last two years, as being the very best value hotel accommodation on offer. From design hotels, boutique hotels, no frills hotels… hotels doubling as premier hostels – all bases are covered,  in all corners of the globe…. city breaks, beach escapes. Which will you choose?!

Western Europe

Superbude St.Pauli

Superbude St.Pauli

Eastern Europe

Fusion Prague

Fusion Prague

Oceania

Asia

North America

South America

Africa & the Middle East

This is just a small handful of excellent value hotels around the world – if you have a recommendation, I would love to hear from you! Happy travels 🙂

Hostels with the Best Staff!

Why are staff so  important? Because they make or break your business. Staff that are upbeat, helpful, courteous, fun, professional and knowledgeable – they will keep your customers coming back. Word of mouth goes a long way too… other travellers they pass along the way will learn of your property largely because of the impression the  staff make.

A hostel could have anywhere from a couple of staff to upwards of one hundred – across areas of reception, cleaners, cooks, guest relations officers, promotional crew, restaurant and bar service… that’s just the ones we see!

There are plenty behind the scenes too – an award for staff is a real team effort, something that all employees and employers should be massively proud of.

As Product Manager for HostelBookers, I am pleased to announce the hostels with the ‘Best Staff’ for 2013 – as  brought to you by HostelBookers ‘Awards for Excellence’. All awards are based primarily on customer reviews. While I have the joy of selecting the winners, it is you – the customer, who has spoken!

Winners from around the world include the following:

Western Europe

oneparelelo

Eastern Europe

hostelone-prague

Oceania

Blue Parrot

Asia

matchbox

North America

usa

South & Central America

bossa

Africa & the Middle East

rainbow

Congratulations to all properties and their owners and staff – and happy travelling to the reader!

For a full list of HostelBookers ‘Awards for Excellence’ 2013 winners – view here

http://www.hostelbookers.com/2013-top-accommodation/

Most European destinations mentioned are cheaply reached by budget airlines

I prefer to use Ryanair or Easyjet

Hostels with the Best Atmosphere!

What makes a property have great atmosphere? It can be a range of things – from fun at the property through events, music, lighting, overall ambience…. the mood, the vibe…. atmosphere is however you interpret it to be. Ultimately, atmosphere should aim to be a combination of all things that are aesthetically pleasing, that awaken the senses and make you happy! To a traveller, it can feel like you have hit the jackpot… an oasis of calm in a city of craziness – or perhaps a whirlwind of craziness and happiness when seeking thrills and adventure.

As Product Manager for HostelBookers, I am pleased to announce the hostels with the ‘Best Atmosphere’ for 2013 – as  brought to you by HostelBookers ‘Awards for Excellence’. All awards are based primarily on customer reviews. While I have the joy of selecting the winners, it is you – the customer, who has spoken!

Winners from around the world include the following:

Western Europe

alfama

Eastern Europe

atillas

Oceania

dreamtimes

Asia

spicypai-backpackers

North America

nomadas-hostel

South & Central America

wildrover

Africa & the Middle East

waka

Congratulations to all properties and their owners and staff – and happy travelling to the reader!

For a full list of HostelBookers ‘Awards for Excellence’ 2013 winners – view here

http://www.hostelbookers.com/2013-top-accommodation/

Most European destinations mentioned are cheaply reached by budget airlines

I prefer to use Ryanair or Easyjet

ACATUR tackles illegal hostels in Barcelona

Barcelona is booming. Tourism levels are at an all-time high… and everyone wants a piece of the Catalan pie! Unfortunately, it’s only natural with so many properties on offer to tourists that some are going to be ‘illegal’…. Times are tough in Spain – people want to make money… but at what cost? At who’s detriment?

As Product Manager of HostelBookers, I have learned that especially over the past few years there has been an alarming influx of these ‘illegal’ properties trying to infiltrate the market. This may mean that they:

A. operate without a business license altogether OR

B. operate without a valid business license IE – not a true representation of the type of license they should hold, in comparison to what they are

While a lot of these licenses are legible in the various languages they are submitted in, it is also quite common that they are written in a regional language other than a standard Spanish understood by many OTA  employees. In Spain, there are seventeen different regions, each region usually with their own laws and language. In Barcelona, Catalan is common for legal documents – very difficult for many Spanish staff to interpret every line as meant. While OTA’s have multiple dedicated departments, they are not dedicated legal specialists who are able to decipher every contract in every region, for every language… the amount of time needed to achieve this is largely unattainable.

So what happens when these ‘illegal’ hostels and properties are operational and ‘stealing’ bookings… what can the legal properties and organisations like ACATUR do? They report them to local authorities, who visit the property to view the license and premise. In turn, they fine them and grant them a period of time to obtain the correct license. The property is not immediately shut down… and therefore will sometimes stay on the books of OTA’s… this happens again the next month… and the next. Another small fine in comparison to what the property earns, with further extensions granted.

ACATUR logo

ACATUR logo

Frustration ensues from the ‘legal hostels’ of the lack of action of local authorities to follow through their job professionally. They feel they are not supported. Who can they go to who will listen – who will assist? OTA’s are limited in the actions they can take. It really does greatly start and finish with the local laws and authorities – the people that govern and oversee this part of the industry in Barcelona.

ACATUR have obviously presented their case on T.V (see link to program in Catalan) and at various conferences held by OTA’s. Their concerns are not just for their businesses, but also the customer. Fire & safety issues are raised, especially if there are not adequate escape routes on premise for a business operating on incorrect licenses. This is detrimental to the customers, the holidaymakers who unassumingly and potentially are putting their lives at risk.

READ ACATUR presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/chrisGomio/update-on-the-hostel-scene-in-barcelona-carles-gras-from-equity-point-hostels

Mats Diedrichsen, Director of Ecommerce at HostelBookers, flew to Barcelona recently to discuss the concerns of ACATUR. While sympathetic to their cause and happy to explore what HostelBookers can do to help their situation, he admits that there are limitations… and agrees that the local authorities must do more to lead – not just assist. Asked on his impression of ACATUR, he states ‘ They are a very well organised hostel organisation…by far the best that I am aware of. The PR coverage in local press in Barcelona is very impressive. Other destinations that have similar issues should really take a look and follow their lead.’

Many new properties that have entered the Barcelona market recently are not just legal – but huge. St Christopher’s already opened last year and made a big splash – winning ‘Best Newcomer’ in HostelBookers ‘Awards For Excellence’. In the lead up to Summer 2013, over a thousand new dorm beds are estimated to be on the way. Generator is set to open a hostel and a hotel imminently…. and multiple applications are made from new Barcelona properties weekly to advertise on OTA sites. No wonder why other hostels who have had it so good for so long are sweating. Their businesses are being hit from all angles… and they have little control of this.

Having monitored and being well informed of the illegal property situation, Miguel Moreno, Product Team Leader at HostelBookers states ‘Generator, St. Christopher’s – this is the type of competition that ACATUR and legal hostels and properties don’t mind, as it is fair competition. These are the types of properties that give our industry a good name… they don’t ruin the good reputation of the legal hostels like Urbany, Equity Point and Be Hostels. It is the illegal hostels, the ones that don’t have a proper reception, that do not have to pay for things like licenses, insurance, pay tax for employees…. these are properties that introduce an uneven playing field… they pay nothing, but poach business and earn the money that should be distributed to valid businesses. If they wish to play, they should do so on an equal basis. They need to pay for proper licenses or face being closed down by local authorities’.

Carles Gras – Director of  ‘Equity Point’ and President of ACATUR, was kind enough to comment on the situation that ACATUR and Barcelona find itself in today. When asked about their next steps, he states ‘Next steps for ACATUR are to reinforce contacts with local authorities so we are their contact for whatever happens related to the hostel industry. We also participate in the new law for hostels in Catalonia. At the same time, we have started contact with all portals selling hostels beds’.

I ask, ‘Have there been any property closures recently, based on the work you have done?’ Carles replies ‘Yes, there has been one property closure, and a second one is very close according to our information.’

The growing strength behind ACATUR has led to an influx of interest on membership and benefits. Carles clarifies this area with, ‘To be a member of ACATUR you just need to download the form from internet, www.acatur.cat and send it to us with your licences from the local authorities (all of them). Only fully licenced hostels that have passed all controls can be a part of ACATUR. The association has a low cost for members and there is no commercial work to be paid. We do all our work by ourselves using our time without any paid salary from ACATUR’.

So what are the benefits? Carles says, ‘The benefits should be visible the following years if we can regulate the sector. We want the following – that being a part of ACATUR represents for our members a signal of quality in the market’

So – ACATUR have definitely made progress. People are waking up…people are listening and understanding the problems that Barcelona’s legal hostel and hotel industry currently face. OTA’s are making the effort to fly to Barcelona, to explore ways that ACATUR and the industry can be supported. The hostel industry is still far away from being regulated, but at least there is a start – a foundation for others to build off. Like New York’s problems before it, Barcelona will not be the last city to experience illegal operators who destroy the industry’s good name and consumer’s perception. However, new organisations like ACATUR can be formed in other cities… to stand up and make a difference.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

Famous Quote from Edward Everett Hale