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Meeting the World: HostelWorld Conference 2018

February 5th, 2018

Last week we attended the HostelWorld Conference in Dublin. We weren’t sure what we were going to get from it, a bit of industry insight maybe, hints and tips on how to be better and what other people were doing… Whatever we expected we got so much more!

St Ives to Dublin: Easy peasy

This is us at the airport in Newquay (I’m not posing, I really was on the phone when Dan took the photo!).

We are very aware that St Ives isn’t the hub of all transport links so were delighted that the conference was in Dublin which is a direct flight from Newquay (40 minute drive from St Ives). We left St Ives at 9am and were in a taxi from Dublin Airport around midday.

We really had no excuse not to go especially when people had made a far greater effort than us to get there.

Variety of talks

We heard from Douglas Quinby, Senior VP Research at Phocuswright on how digital is driving the agenda for hostels; we listened to a remarkable talk from Claire Cronin, CMO Virgin Atlantic, on innovation in travel (can I just say that Virgin are doing awesome things in the travel market) and at the end of day 1, Sam Conniff, entrepreneur and co-founder of Livity, showed us all how to BE MORE PIRATE which is particularly relevant for us Cornish folk!

Day 2 began with a talk we will remember forever from Ben Saunders, world record breaking polar explorer, on his two man expedition to the South Pole; the phrase that stands out being… ‘it was like being on a treadmill in a freezer for 28 days straight’ …when describing his walk across the Ross Ice Shelf. Follow him on Twitter, we will be!

This was followed by some more industry specific discussions on security and crisis management, an unfortunate by-product of our current age; an update from HostelWorld and finally a super relevant panel discussion where Cathy Thompson (Head of Customer Experience at HostelWorld) interviewed a few hugely experienced backpackers on their personal experience of hostels, what made them great and what was important to them.

By the end of Day 2 our heads were spinning and we were buzzing with ideas.

A new age for hostels

One of the biggest problems for our industry is redefining what a hostel is…. it’s not what it used to be (if it was ever that in the first place).

We have always associated hostels with a social experience; they are places we want to stay because we want to meet people, budget aside they would always be our preference when travelling (we even stayed in dorm rooms in hostels during our honeymoon). That’s not the case for everyone; for many hostels are still seen as a last resort, dirty places with dozens of people crammed into one room and where you are are forced to bring your own bed linen.

Of the hundreds of hostels that were represented at HostelWorld not one of them fitted this mould. We saw hostels that had spent more on interior design than the Hilton Hotel group; we saw hostels that were using technology in ways that we couldn’t have even dreamed of; hostels with en suite, private rooms which were just as lovely as any you would find in a hotel for triple the price.

Clean, exciting, innovative, sociable places with great staff and green ethics; committed to building connections between travellers and the local community.

We were inspired and excited to be in this industry, part of a travel movement which seems only set to go one way – BIGGER!

What we brought home

Once you get home it’s so easy to get tied up in the every day – renovations, maintenance, guest emails, pushing the big ideas to one side; however this blog, all our notes and our commitment right here and now to not carry on as normal will help us remember what we learned:

Now is the time to BE BOLD and when we are scared to be bold be EVEN BOLDER.

You heard it here first

Comments, ideas, discussions are ALWAYS welcome on our Facebook page or at reception. Please tell us what you want, your ideas, your feedback, what would make you come back or stay away: We need it all, the good, bad and the ugly. #watchthisspace


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