Hostelling International Selling Hotel Rooms
NOTE this thread was branched off from http://www.hostelmanagement.com/forum/f16/five-yha-hostels-up-sale-england-4098.html ...
If the description on hihostels.com is correct, it looks like it's a hotel:
50 euros ($70) for a hotel room in Vienna doesn't seem especially budget-priced.
I'm very surprised HI is trying to sell hotel rooms as "hostel" accommodation.
A quick search of hihostels.com in Cyprus turns up four hotels that are being sold as hostels.
The complex consists of 16 hotel room type bungalows,5 normal bungalows and 7 super dublex villa type bungalows.Each villa has air-conditioning,a well equipped kitchen with breakfast bar,kettle,shower and WC on ground floor and lounge with TV and telephone.The villas also have their own private,large and fully furnished terraces all facing the pool with panoramic mountain or sea views and the shade of the beautiful Mediterranean flowers or grape vines.
The hotel rooms have...
Another description of a HI "hostel":
...a two star hotel, beautifully designed and decorated in true Cypriot style.
* * ROOMS All 55 standard comfortable rooms are with bath/shower, direct dial telephone, radio, television with satellite reception, air conditioner, balcony and heating....
Family run hotel in the centre of Pafos, renovated ground floor with an online casino and free internet access to all the guests on one of the 36 computer screens. Our guests receive a 10% discount on our shop at the Harbour the Mosaics Plaza and a 10% discount in our Cypriot Traditional Restaurant the Kings Aphrodite. All the rooms have private facilities, a telephone, fridge and a tv. ...
Here's a photo of one of the Hostelling International "hostels"!
I usually don't mention specific properties by name, but I think that selling hotels as "hostels" is very bad for genuine hostels. Since HI is perceived by many as the "official" hostel organization, what they do carries a lot of weight in the industry...
It looks like this trend is expanding. Here is a Hostelling International property in Bratislava that is really a 175-room budget hotel.
Here's a photo I took of the hotel:
Here is the description on hihostels.com, with the slogan "Discover the real hostel experience":
This is not the "real" hostel experience. I think HI needs to figure out what it is. Is it a "charity" that provides an educational and character-building experience for young people through shared accommodation in hostels? There is no such thing as a "non-profit hotel company", and I'm speaking up about this trend of selling hotels as "hostels" because I think that it's very detrimental to genuine hostels.
A hotel is not a hostel. A cheap price doesn't make a hotel a hostel.
I looked at HI for Bratislava and found several hostels, in addition to Hotel Kyjev, under the HI name.
I suppose we can concede that HI, as a business making a profit, may reasonably open a hotel in addition to their hostels. Although it is confusing. But they are grossly misleading if they use the word hostel anywhere in its description. No solo travellers careful with their money will choose to stay there, because they are charged twice as much as anyone else. Therefore, as well as its not being a hostel, it cannot have the atmosphere of a hostel.
Whetever else, the WHOLE POINT of HI is to provide accommodation which caters for solo travellers equally to couples, families etc. Couples and families have the choice of hundreds of hotels, b&b's etc. Solo travellers have the choice of only 5 or 10 hostels.
I suppose we can concede that HI, as a business making a profit, may reasonably open a hotel in addition to their hostels.
HI claims to be a non-profit organization though:
What is Hostelling International?
Hostelling International is the brand name of the non-profit International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF) and its member Youth Hostel Associations around the world. Our name is your reassurance of good quality budget accommodation that you can trust - watch out for the blue triangle sign.
A budget hotel that offers cheap accommodation to "promote travel" is not doing a charitable act. A genuine hostel is more than just a place to sleep.
In my opinion, this is not an accurate definition of hostel, otherwise Easy Hotel, Motel 6, and Motel One are "hostel" companies too:
What is a Youth Hostel?
A Youth Hostel is good quality budget accommodation that offers a comfortable night's sleep in friendly surroundings at an affordable price. Youth Hostels provide the perfect way to get to know a country at low cost and meet with many other people who share your attitude towards travelling.
Here are examples of how HI is selling regular hotel rooms under the "hostel" name:
If HI sells standard hotel rooms how are they different from Hostelworld? If this is the case, where is the non-profit or charitable aspect? The main office becomes nothing more than an generic accommodation booking engine.
My apologies to the HI people reading this, but I think this trend is very bad for genuine hostels--both HI-affiliated, and independent.
EDIT: by the way, I found out that the hotel in Bratislava was HI because the person I was traveling with walked over to check on availability and mentioned that there was an HI sign. He said that he would be angry if he booked a hostel and then was given a hotel room when he arrived. This trend is bad for the travelers as well as the genuine hostels.
I might be wrong about this, but I would have thought that it would be up to the Slovakian YH association as far as what was called a hostel and what was not? Or do HI take registrations on their site directly. This is an issue that has been around for years, I remember travelling in NZ 15 years ago and going to a place that was in the YHANZ guidebook and it was just a camp-site with cabins and no dorms or anything. You got a nz$1 discount if you had a YHA card. From memory you could get a similar discount if you had a BBH card, so it was really meaningless.
National YHAs are just using this as a revenue stream to get a bit of commission thru bookings - the problem is it dilutes and devalues their brand.
I might be wrong about this, but I would have thought that it would be up to the Slovakian YH association as far as what was called a hostel and what was not?
It is hihostels.com that is calling these hotels "hostels"...
Isn't it the main organization that creates some kind of standards? Or are they just licensing the brand name, and leaving it up to national organizations to create separate standards for each country?
In any case, say I want to start an HI organization in Antarctica. I charge each property $**** per year. The more properties I sign up, the more money my organization makes and the more salary I can pay myself. I'm not saying that is what is happening, only that there is an incentive to corrupt the definition of hostel in order to increase profits, even if an organization is registered as a "non-profit".
The incentive for the booking engines to corrupt the definition of "hostel" is to increase commissions. A $60 hotel room brings in four times the commission of a $15 dorm bed. This is at the expense of genuine hostels though.
I think that if genuine hostels (both HI and independent) don't call companies out on this trend, we'll see more things like this, and even companies like Motel 6 will someday be calling themselves hostel chains. Here is already one attempt to call Days Inn a hostel chain:
"Travelers can now find budget accommodation with New York City hostels such as Days Inn, located just 10-15 minutes to Midtown New York City."
(Days Inn is a motel chain with 1900 locations according to Wikipedia.)