The first ever Hostelworld.com
Hostel Conference took place in Dublin’s Temple Bar Music Centre on January 24th and 25th and proved to be a fantastic success. More than 300 hostel owners and managers from Europe, USA, Japan, India, Peru, Mexico and Australia attended the event.
ÊWelcoming delegates to the conference, Hostelworld.com President and Co-Founder Tom Kennedy said how the hostel industry had changed dramatically over the last decade. He explained that even with the arrival of budget chain hotels such as “Travellodge” “Ibis” and “Jury’s Inns” that backpackers still preferred to stay in hostels as their decision was not solely based on cheap prices, but on factors such as atmosphere, fun and the camaraderie of meeting other backpackers. He also noted that the hostel industry, once considered a “cottage industry” had grown rapidly with the entry of new players opening deluxe hostel chains including Base Backpackers in Australia / New Zealand of which Accor Hotels are one of the shareholders.
Following Tom’s speech, over 300 people listened to talks given by Tom Hall from Lonely Planet, Ray Nolan, CEO and Co-Founder of Hostelworld.com, Liam Campbell from Failte Ireland, Aafke van Sprundel from the International Student Travel Confederation, and Gerry McGovern, an esteemed consultant and author on web content.
For many one of the most interesting presentations was the ‘Backpacker Forum’ where a group of seven international backpackers answered questions posed by Colette Quinn, a market research specialist from Real Insights. Her probing questions revealed many of the key reasons that backpackers stay in a hostel and how they choose one hostel over another. Top priorities proved to be price, cleanliness, location and the availability of common rooms and self-catering kitchens. After the initial forum, conference attendees were able to glean information from the people that fill their hostels every day.
Topics discussed reinforced the view that the hostel industry is becoming increasingly professional - these included yield management, online pms systems, search engine optimisation, web content management, customer service excellence and the dynamics of a changing customer base. Rene van Schie, Manager of Stayokay Hostel in Amsterdam said “I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the conference, both from an intellectual and from a social point of view. There was so much energy and dynamics in the meeting rooms. Fantastic!”
Speaking after the conference, Hostelworld.com’s Niamh Ni Mhir said “The first ever Hostelworld.com Hostel Conference has been a fantastic success. This industry was crying out for an event where hostel owners and managers could discuss matters pertaining directly to their industry and listen to expert speakers on topics that mattered to them. Judging by the positive reaction to this year’s conference we are planning on making it an annual event.”