Advice for Hotels, Hostels &
in Transitional & Developing Countries:
The Qualities of Great, Cheap Accommodations
Including links to
Not everyone visiting a transitional or development country wants to stay in
five star hotels, believe it or not. Many travelers want to stay in small,
cheap/affordable accommodations, such as family-run hotels and bed &
breakfasts, hostels and even campsites. These travelers are not only looking
for lower costs, they are also looking for a more personal experience. And
these international travelers are essential to building up the reputation of
an area as a good place to visit: they talk about their experiences to their
friends, and broadcast such to the world via the Internet.
If you are in a transitional country or developing country, and want to
keep your hotel, hostel or campground fully-booked, you must build up a
great reputation among international travelers, who share good and bad
stories online and various travel guide companies. Here are the qualities
of a great, cheap hotel, hostel or campground anywhere (and note
that most of these don't require any expenses but, rather, a particular
attitude or practice by staff):
In brief, here is what you will need to do to create a viable, sustainable
budget accommodation site:
- Guests, particularly women, are safe, as is their property (entrances
are always monitored or locked, area is fenced, staff are
trained and well-supervised, locked doors to accommodations cannot be
opened easily, it would be difficult for a non-guest to roam the grounds
or hallways, etc.). Think about safety from a
woman traveler's point of view.
- Everything -- bathrooms, floors, linens (upon arrival), windows -- is
clean. It doesn't have to be new, but it does have to be clean.
- Friendly staff that smiles, always greets everyone who
enters, asks "How may I help you?", etc.
- There is drinkable water in each room, or in the bathroom.
- There is secure parking (a lot that is surrounded by a tall fence,
with a gate that is always locked; this is particularly important for motorcycle
- The rooms are built such that guests cannot hear each other (well
insulated walls, beds in different rooms are not up against the same
- There are free maps and a list of attractions in the rooms or a
- If breakfast is offered, it's a real breakfast, not just
bread and coffee.
- There is information on cheap, reliable local excursions/tours.
- There is a list of area services available in each room or the common
area (laundry, groceries, pharmacy, toiletries, Internet access, phone
cards, restaurants, pubs, etc.).
- Staff can make reliable recommendations regarding accommodations for
a traveler's next stop.
- Staff are familiar with area transportation options.
- There is a common area with shelves for travelers to leave magazines
and books they are done with; these are neatly kept and offered to
guests for free, or for a very minimal charge (such as $.25 a book).
- There is free instant coffee, tea and sugar available, either in
individual rooms or in a common area.
- There are at least two rooms that are easily accessible for person's
with disabilities (no stairs leading to the rooms, doorways wide enough
for a wheel chair, railings in the bathroom, etc.)
- The hotel, hostel or campsite office will charge cell phones for
- Visitors are under the impression that your staff wants to be there,
not just that they have to be there because it is their job.
- Staff are familiar with what the latest issue of various travel
guides say about the area (Lonely
Planet, Rough Guide, Rick
Steves, Marco Polo, etc.).
- Staff should be familiar with what is on the Web about the area -- or
even the hotel, hostel or campground where they work.
- Rules of the hotel, hostel or campground (quiet hours, use of kitchen
facilities, etc.) are posted in more than one place, and in more than
one language (English, French and German will cover most of your guests;
Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Russian are also good choices). Guests are
often happy to help you translate such signs into their native
- Quiet hours are enforced; staff reminds those guests who are not
adhering to quiet hours to do so, and staff does not wait for complaints
from other guests before doing so.
- Give guests the option of requesting that their room's linens (towels
and sheets) not be changed every day, or are changed only by
their request, in order to save energy; many green-minded guests view
such practices very positively.
If you have the finances for such, consider joining a tourism business
association -- meeting their standards and displaying your membership at
your hotel or camp site will help you attract even more visitors. This
web site has a long list of such associations.
- Directors/board members (for youth hostels, these should be unpaid)
- Mission statement
- Goals & objectives (draft)
- Proposed services
- Business/hostel identity
Research & Partnerships
- Strategic alliances
- SWOT analysis
- Strategic positioning / competitive research
- Market analysis
- Licenses & zoning (building permits, fire inspection, health
- Funds required / first year's budget
- Potential donors
- Operations goals & objectives (including timeline)
- Operations team/management and personnel
- Administrative organization
- Marketing goals & strategies
- Construction needs
- Contingency planning
- Overall financial projections (income and expenditures)
- Risk reduction
- Exit strategy
So you want to start
a hostel?, a list of excellent advice on how to start a hostel, by
Global TESOL College (GTC), based in Canada.
is a resource for hostel managers/owners, and people who are interested
in information about how to open new backpacker hostels. Lots of
terrific, free information.
a hostel, from the Canadian chapter of Hosteling International.
Includes a list of the benefits of starting hostel and the standards
required of a Hosteling International hostel. Although developed for
Canada, the information here is helpful for anyone who wishes to create
a hostel that meets the standard of HI membership.
best hostels in the world have..., an article from Lonely
Planet that lists the qualities of the best hostels in the world
(and links to some of the hostels that have them!).
Kentucky needs a travelers' hostel! Louisville was chosen by Lonely
Planet as a top destination for 2013. It's one of my favorite
cities, and one I've long promoted to international travelers. But this
amazing city doesn't have a hostel! This series
of web pages is a basic business plan/proposal for this project.
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