In the backpacking world Hostelworld has become a household name, which makes sense considering the fact that www.hostelworld.com is the world’s number one hostel booking website, and “the leading provider of online reservations for the budget, independent and youth travel market.” With the mission: “to become the fastest-growing online provider of great value accommodation, using innovative technology to inspire independently minded travellers everywhere,” the company has certainly done just that, now listing over 35,000 properties in 180 countries, with over 3.5 million guest reviews.
The website was created by a hostel owner and IT entrepreneur who realized that at that time, 1999, there was no way to book and pay hostel reservation deposits online. The company started out as a platform connecting backpackers in need of cheap accommodation with budget hostel owners but has the platform has grown to include other types of accommodation including campsites, self catering accommodations, B&B’s and budget hotels.
Hostelworld created “the network effect, with value growing as the platform matched demand from both sides…increasing returns to scale,” (Eisenmann, 2006). One of the ways the website attracted so many users was through their affiliate program with over 3,500 distribution partners, including big names in the travel industry such as Lonely Planet and Ryanair.com.
So how was Hostelworld been able to attract more clients than similar platforms? Two words: value co-creation (Saarijärvi, 2013). Hostelworld was able to create value for the customer by allowing participation through reviews and voting. In 2006, they were the first hostel-booking website to develop a travel social network, where customers can discuss travel plans. The hostels receive value by gaining customer insight on what they can improve upon, also there is the ability for the hostel owner to comment on the reviews of the customers, providing a platform for dialogue between the two online. Hostelworld also hosts an annual hostel conference where owners can learn about the latest trends and devleopments in the industry.
Hostelworld uses customer resources of customer opinions and travel knowledge to co-create value, which not only helps the hostels to better their establishments, but also the reviews and rankings given by the customer make filtering the accommodations much easier because the client is able to see the listings in terms of which is “best”. Creation is developed through this ranking and review mechanisms, and paired with the ability to narrow your search preferences (price, type of accommodation, based on ranking, etc.) it is a great use of recommendation agents (Xiao, 2007). By decreasing the information and option overload of seeing hundreds of accommodations, the customer can be shown only those that are pertinent to them as well as which ones are the most highly recommended by peers; this can sometimes narrow a search from 150 hostels to 5!
With such easy to use features and now available on your mobile phone, what are you waiting for? Go book your next trip on Hostelworld.com!
- Saarijärvi, Hannu, P. K. Kannan, and Hannu Kuusela. “Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications.” European Business Review 25.1 (2013)
- Eisenmann, Thomas, Geoffrey Parker, and Marshall W. Van Alstyne. “Strategies for two-sided markets.” Harvard Business Review 84.10 (2006)
- Carson, Stephen J., et al. “Understanding institutional designs within marketing value systems.” Journal of Marketing (1999)
- Brynjolfsson, Erik, Yu Jeffrey Hu, and Michael D. Smith. “From Niches to Riches: Anatomy of the Long Tail.” Sloan Management Review 47.4 (2006)
- Murray, Kyle B., and Gerald Häubl. “Personalization without interrogation: towards more effective interactions between consumers and feature-based recommendation agents.” Journal of Interactive Marketing 23.2 (2009)
- Xiao, Bo, and Izak Benbasat. “E-commerce product recommendation agents: use, characteristics, and impact.” MIS Quarterly 31.1 (2007)