Welcome to my travel interview series!
Each month, I interview travelers I meet along my journey.
This Month Features:
Hayden Cole Jauregui
What inspired you to create The Hostel Group?
During my second year of college I studied abroad in London. It was my first time out of the United States and I never left my Southern California bubble. My first hostel was in Barcelona where I got a private room with friends. It was a great way to dip my toes into hostels. This was an amazing experience, because I could go downstairs and share a coffee with people from Germany and Australia and another person from Canada then go on a walking tour together. This is something you can’t experience when staying at a hotel often either. Barcelona was my first hostel experience and country hop from England. When I came back to the US, I was working in my International Marketing class. I learned about online travel agencies such as Booking.com and Expedia. Every time I was searching for a hostel I was never really searching for the name of the hostel as we typically don’t know the name of the hostel. I used HostelWorld. It’s a resource, but I wanted to provide an additional resource for the hostels to give them more visibility which in turn puts more money in their pocket.
How do you benefit or profit from connecting travelers directly to a hostels website to book directly?
In the beginning I grew it for free to build a platform. In 2017- 2018 I was charging a yearly $50 membership fee. Then I decided in 2019 I would stop all revenue as I noticed I never wanted to hear a no from a hostel. Then if I can grow this platform to be this amazing platform that it can be then I can come back with the traffic and credibility. With COVID, I’m able to give back to the industry. The hostels get the Hostel Group certificate. I see that they are holding it up in photos and it shows that these hostels are vetted and letting backpackers and hostels know I’m promoting the message that it’s important to book direct.
Do you travel to the country and stay at a hostel to create the relationship to work together so you can give a real life experience to your audience?
I wish I could travel to all of these hostels, but logistically it doesn’t really make sense. I decided I have enough experience to at least contact and weed out the bad ones. I can check Google ratings, Booking.com ratings, how long they’ve been established and if they have a secure website. If all of these things are good and they have a way to book directly securely then I will contact them.
How has Adopt a Hostel saved the hostel industry?
Adopt a Hostel is something I found out about through social media. A well known hostel blogger created it. I saw it and want people to have the opportunity to support hostels. These are more donations or a gift card/credit to the hostel that people can purchase.
If you could give one piece of advice to hostel owners and managers, what would it be?
A clear reception desk. It’s the simple stuff. And some sort of a way to know who works there. A branded polo shirt, name tag, theme within the hostel so travelers know that these workers work here. Maybe a clear form of a room key or a sleeve of the room key that holds a map of the hostel and the area it’s in or tips from hostel workers of places to see and eat.
If it were someone’s first time staying at a hostel, what would you want them to know?
If you have a group of friends, you can get a private room. You’re still getting that hostel experience which is a community in a building. You can wake up in the morning and feel that sense of community. If you’re a female look for hostels that have an all female room. The hostels doing this show awareness and that they take security seriously. Make sure you have a lock for a locker. Do your research. Don’t ask strangers which hostel they should stay at. We have the internet. If you’re at a nice hostel make sure to book your next hostel while still at the hostel you’re at. Don’t book a hostel the day you arrive in a country. You will find your own comfortability level later, but it doesn’t hurt to do these things as a first time traveler. And if you’re packing your bags right now, check out these Six Reasons Why Hostels Are Where It’s At For Solo Travelers.
Two years from now, where do you see The Hostel Group?
A hostel in every relevant city being on The Hostel Group.
Having to update my hosting and server for all the traffic that will come to my website and having backpack companies wanting to sponsor the site. Having meet-ups.
Is there anything else you want to share about The Hostel Group?
Help make a difference and support hostels by booking direct.
Connect with Hayden
The Hostel Group
Hayden Cole Jauregui is currently living in Southern California with his family. To connect with Hayden follow him @thehostelgroup. If you’re looking to find a great hostel to stay at then book direct at thehostelgroup.com.‘