Group Project Text Report
Tonia Viktoria Nelskamp
Rachel Ng Ming Hui
COMM346 Social Media Strategies
14th November 2016
Table of Contents
|1. Company Background and Analysis
1.1 Issue Analysis and Objectives
1.2 Profiling of Current Audience
1.3 Motives of Target Audience
|2. Current Social Media Analysis
|3. Competitor’s Social Media Analysis
3.1 Social Media Competitor Analysis: Facebook
3.2 Social Media Competitor Analysis: Instagram
|4. Social Media Strategies
Located along a strip of nostalgic heritage shophouses since opening in 2012, Shophouse the Social Hostel prides itself as Singapore’s first indie boutique hostel. With pictures of every traveller that has resided within the hostel traced along the staircase leading up to the dormitories, the boutique hostel lives by its motto of being created “for travellers, by travellers”. From 2015, visitor arrivals in Singapore went up by 7.1% (Baker, 2016), and standard room occupancy rate performed at an average of 85.3% in 2016 (STB Hotel Statistics, 2016). The growing demand of backpackers in Singapore is reflected in the growing supply of hostels (Tan, 2013) posing as stiff competition to the boutique hostel. The Shophouse has successfully been able to build a social media presence and portfolio across the channels of Instagram and Facebook within a span of 4 years.
A major issue the Shophouse wishes to overcome is their lack of reach and volume. A major demographic of 85% of the hostel’s guests are Indonesian. A consequence of the Shophouse being unable to garner greater occupancy volume from a divers
ified customer base, is the hostel’s vulnerability to seasonal trends. This is especially evident during Ramadan month when occupancy can drop to a significantly poor rate of 30%. Given that hostel occupancy is the main source of revenue for the hostel, it is essential for the Shophouse to reduce its dependency on the patronage of Indonesian guests and divesify revenue stream. Hence, the goal of this project is aimed at increasing occupancy volume and diversifying the reach of the Shophouse.
Social Media in relation to the goal set, plays an important role given that social media heavily influences the buying decisions of consumers. (Ahmed, 2015) growing impact of social media. As the tourism industry offers a product that is intangible and experiential, travellers must rely on the information provided either online or offline, to identify and evaluate alternatives. (Pan & Crotts, 2012) Travellers utilize social media as a customer service channel, to share and make informed decisions with advice from sources they trust the most – other travellers, for their travels. (unknown, 2015) It is hence important for the Shophouse to possess a strong online presence. By being able to provide a sense of security through a credible display on the social media platforms, the hostel will not only be able to market to the information search and evaluation of alternatives processes of the customer, but have a competitive edge over its competitors. (Jones, 2014) In consumer decision making, harnessing the social feedback loops on social media is key through the first 3 stages. (Pan & Crotts, 2012) This will ultimately facilitate the customer’s decision to book with the Shophouse, increasing reach and volume of occupancy.
In analysis of the information provided by the hostel, the profiling of the hostel’s current customer portfolio can be demographically defined. As aforementioned, Indonesian travellers form a major base of the hostel’s portfolio. This can be reasoned by the strategic location of the hostel that is heavily Muslim influenced, as suggested by the name Arab Street. Guests usually fall between the ages of 22-30 years old, and are mostly students or middle-class workers. They usually have lesser disposable income and smaller purchasing power.
For the success of the recommended social media strategies, is vital for the Shophouse to grasp a strong understanding of the motives of its target audience. It is key for the Shophouse to not view travellers as merely a business transaction, but as communities of travellers who gather around social media sites of Facebook and Instagram to actively participate and share their experiences with their peers. In the creation of these social media strategies, it is important to not only look into the demographics of these travellers, but the psychographics of what fuels and drives them to eventually decide on their choice of hostel. The Shophouse shared that guests book with the Shophouse as they wish to fulfil their desire for a carefree and social travel. The unique selling point of the Shophouse is its marked attention to facilitating the socialisation of its guests. This reflected in the design of the Shophouse which incoporates common sharing spaces such as the roof top longue and the frequent events the hostel hosts. These spaces and events are meant to provide guests with the opportunity to mingle and build experiences together. Guests also book with the Shophouse for the service the hostel provides. The hostel advocates personal touch and going the extra mile. The hostel provides free tours, and encourages staff to befriend guests. It is essential for our social media strategies to capture and convey these key traits across the channels of Facebook and Instagram, as they lend the hostel an edge over its competitors.
With the motives of guests in mind, the target audience of the recommended social media strategies will be aimed at international guests who appreciate great service and the social aspect of the hostel.
In the measurement of the company’s current social media effectiveness, analysis should begin by considering the motivations of consumers to use either Facebook or Instagram, and later the social media investments customers make as they engage with the Shophouse online. (Hoffman & Fodor, 2010) As aforementioned, guests use these platforms to check the credibility of the Shophouse. With this in mind, the metrics later used in the evaluation of the Shophouse’s Facebook and Instagram pages are organized by the unique key objectives of each platforms exclusively. As seen in the Diagram 1.0 below, brand awareness refers to the exposure of the brand, brand engagement refers to the participation of users and word of mouth refers to the communication of opinions by users to other consumers ( Hoffman & Fodor, 2010).
While in the Shophouse’s Facebook page experiences strong brand awareness with a significant social media following of 14,170, it’s follower-engagement ratio is disproportionately low. This reflects that while guests are exposed to the Shophouse, the current content produced by the hostel on their Facebook page has not been sufficiently engaging to earn the participation of these guests, all the more share about their attitudes and satisfaction. Hence explaining for the low level of word of mouth experienced.
While the Shophouse’s Instagram page enjoys a smaller following than it’s Facebook page, it ironically enjoys a higher follower-engagement ratio. This illustrates that while lesser users are exposed to the Shophouse on Instagram, these guests experience higher engagement and are more motivated to invest their time interacting. This explains why the hostel’s Instagram page similarly experiences a higher word of mouth than Facebook.
We were able to identify four close competitors of The Shophouse; Five Stones Hostel, Green Kiwi Backpackers Hostel, 5footway.inn and Bunc Hostel.
All four competitors are situated within 750m of The Shophouse, allowing for relatively easy access to the same tourist attractions highlighted by our hostel. Additionally, all five hostels target similar audiences (budget travellers and backpackers) and offer similar price points.
By analysing the social media presence of our competitors, we aim to achieve the following:
- Understand which social media platforms our competitors use
- Observe the various strategies they are using and analyse their effectiveness
- Learn from their greatest strengths and weaknesses and determine how they might apply to our hostel
- Compare our social media presence with theirs
In essence, we would like to be able to crack their social media strategies, going beyond the type of content, timing of posts and levels of engagement but also whether their strategies are working to their benefit and if they can be of use to us.
We have decided which social media platforms to pay closer attention to after looking at commonly used social media by our competitors as well as the existing platforms we are using. The reason for not considering other platforms that our competitors are not using is because we are aiming for the exact same demographic of guests as our competitors, and therefore need to be able to compete with their existing social media. A summary of the five hostels’ social media presence can be found in the table below:
|Five Stones||Green Kiwi||5footway.inn||Bunc Hostel||The Shophouse|
Table 3: Social Media Summary
As seen above, in terms of social media presence all 5 hostels have active Facebook accounts and all but Green Kiwi have an active Instagram presence. For this reason, we will be analysing the effectiveness of Facebook and Instagram as marketing channels as well as the extent to which they can be used to achieve The Shophouse’s objectives.
Among the four competitors, Green Kiwi Backpacker Hostel appears to have the highest rates of engagement, growth and posts per week, well-surpassing The Shophouse. The Shophouse appears to have the lowest likes growth and one of the lowest engagement rates and posts per week, which signifies a need for more engaging content to be posted more frequently.
Additionally, we considered the type of content on each hostel’s Facebook page. We noticed that those with high engagement rates posted mainly photographic content on their page. It might be important to note that, most of the links on these pages were links to events held by the hostel and therefore were likely to receive likes by the participants of the events only.
Lastly, we observed that most of our competitors post content between 5pm and 8pm, presumably to attract the attention of their guest after they return to the hostel after a long day or before they head out for dinner or other late night plans. However, the ideal timing for posts based off page activity for most of our competitors as well as The Shophouse appears to be between 11am to 2pm. Only the Bunc Hostel takes advantage of their peak timing when posting content. In all, the Shophouse appears to be comparatively worst off on Facebook. Further information can be found in the table below:
|Five Stones Hostel||Green Kiwi||5 footway.inn||Bunc Hostel||The Shophouse|
|Posts per week||1.24||3.78||2.09||1.82||1.36|
Comments per post
|Type of posts||50% photos
|Ideal timing for posts based off page activity||11am – 2pm||11pm – 2am||2pm – 5pm||5pm – 8pm||11am – 2pm|
|Average posting time||5pm – 8pm||11am – 2pm||5pm – 8pm||5pm – 8pm||2pm – 5pm|
Table 4: Social Media Analysis
However, when it comes to strategy, it appears that none of our competitors are actively working towards objective such as increasing awareness, attracting new customers or improving the quality of their existing page. Instead, we noticed that the main focus seems to be on increasing levels of engagement and keeping their audiences informed of promotions and events.
The Shophouse could potentially use this as an opportunity to stand out from our competitors by introducing targeted campaigns that would result us reaching to our four social media objectives.
When it comes to Instagram, all hostels but Green Kiwi have an account. The four hostels started their Instagram account around the same period (2012-2013) but vary in their posting, content type, and engagement. Instagram allows the hostels to showcase not only the hostel itself but also the culture, people and activities that make the hostel attractive to potential guests. Our three competitors all have a higher following than the Shophouse. Despite this, Shophouse enjoys the highest engagement rate and posts most frequently compared to their counterparts. Our profile performance index also ranks the highest, indicating that our overall performance in Instagram outranks our rivals. Below is a summary of their posting history over a 30-day period:
|Five Stones||5footway.inn||Bunc Hostel||The Shophouse|
|No. of posts||1||3||4||6|
|Posts per day||0.035%||0.107||0.14||0.21|
|Profile Performance Index (PPI)||9%||15%||11%||21%|
|Likes per post||46||49||18||35.7|
|Comments per post||2||1.3||1.5||1.17|
Table 5: Social Media Performance
However, there are some other aspects of Instagram that statistics cannot capture, for example the usage of geotags, hashtags and the ‘story’ feature. Through our research we noticed that guests in all 5 hostels (including Green Kiwi) use their hostel’s geotag in their Instagram posts. In terms of hashtags, none of the hostels employ any hashtag campaign that is actively endorsed by their guests. Similarly, none of the hostels use the ‘story’ feature as part of their engagement efforts.
As such, while The Shophouse’s Instagram presence outshines that of their competitors, they can still stand to improve their levels of engagement and focus their efforts towards achieving the goals outlined by the manager. The use of hashtags and Instagram story are promising avenues to help these efforts.
The recommended strategies will focus on the platforms already utilized by the Shophouse, as both Facebook and Instagram are social networking sites which possess convenience and social utility. (Shim, 2014) Across both Facebook and Instagram, strategies are aimed at conveying a unified brand message and voice. Strategies will be focused on the Shophouse’s unique selling points of great service and its social aspect. Given that consumers are reported to trust peer recommendations 92% more than advertising when it comes to purchasing decisions (Little, 2015), the greatest source of credibility the Shophouse should leverage on is reviews and testimonials from satisfied guests. These strategies will therefore simultaneously aim to utilize social media to extract and build customer testimonials. Customers also rely on the vibrancy and performance of social media pages as indicators of credibility. Hence increase the performance of these 2 channels in terms of brand awareness, brand engagement and word of mouth.
The #IloveShopHouseBcos Campaign aims to address a key issue faced by the Shophouse and to promote the aesthetic aspect of the hostel. The Shophouse stated that an issue they face is that guests are unmotivated to review their experiences and stay with the hostel as it is inconvenient and time-consuming. As a result, the hostel has been unable to create a sustainable feedback loop which is essential for potential guests who use the hostel’s Facebook page to research and gain insight on the hostel.
The Shophouse should take advantage of its picturesque location and position tripods such that guests are able to take self-timed photos with the scenic view. In order to educate and inform guests of the purpose of the cameras stationed and the terms to have their pictures printed, posters such as Diagram 6 will be attached to the tripod. The nature of the poster was created to retain and place emphasis on the indie nature of the Shophouse.
Whiteboards and markers will be situated next to the tripod stand, and as stated in the poster, guests will only be able to have their photos printed if they take the picture with the whiteboards, as depicted in Diagram 7. This benefit will incentivise guests to take pictures with the whiteboard. The whiteboard will be designed with the hashtag “#ILoveShophouseBcos…”, and guests will use the markers to pen what they love about the Shophouse in the given space.
These whiteboards act as a feedback system and a form of review for the Shophouse to collate and store. When guests have their photos printed, the digital copy will be stored in the hostel’s data. Every week, the hostel can collate these photos and share them on their Facebook page in an album. These albums will be archived on Facebook and will act as sources of information for potential guests using Facebook to research on the credibility of the Shophouse. Furthermore, brand awareness of the Shophouse will increase when guests are tagged in the digital copy of their image, and are directed to and made to follow the Facebook page of the hostel. Additionally, brand engagement will heighten as content shared on the Facebook page actually involves and is relevant to the guests.
Strategy 2 – Socialize Me Campaign
The Socialize Me Campaign comprises of 2 initiatives.
Although the hostel introduces numerous events in a single month on their Facebook page, the lack of engagement from followers may be reasoned by the noise and distraction it causes instead. Hence, in order for the Shophouse to re-direct the attention of the guests, and ensure that awareness around events is raised, the Shophouse should consolidate all events into a calendar as exemplified in Diagram 8, on their Facebook page. This will allow guests to track events, and even plan the timing of their stay to optimise these events. When guests click on these dates, the click could send them through a new tab with a detailed coverage of the event, and a call-to-action button for guests to register for the event early. Early bird registrations will be entitled to a free drink at the event. This will incentivise guests to register guests early and allow events to garner greater pre-event hype and buzz. The consolidation of events into one compact page further highlights the social aspect of the hostel as guests are able to view the scale of social events the hostel opportunes in a single glance.
For the actual event itself, the Shophouse should implement a system to ensure that volume and word of mouth is achieved across and through all events. As of current, attendance of the hostel is marked by local Singaporeans instead of international travellers. However, this defeats the purpose of using these events as marketing tactics to attract its target audience of travellers. Hence, the hostel should leverage on their current guest pool to expand their reach and volume. As the profile of travellers staying at the Shophouse are usually carefree and social by nature, these travellers are likely to build relationships with other travellers through their adventures and travels around Singapore. The Shophouse could incentivise guests to extend the invitation of these events to peers through a referral programme. For every peer they refer and bring, they may receive a 5% discount off a night’s stay. In order to keep track of referrals, attendees will be directed by a link Facebook to a microsite that will allow them to register for the event. Under the “Referred by” segment, emails will be requested for. As of which, emails will be sent to these respective guests to display at the front desk to redeem their discount.
Although these travellers may have booked with a competitor, their exposure to the Shophouse may convert their buying decision for future travels or boost word of mouth to their peers. Furthermore, brand awareness will also be increased given that these travellers will be directed to and made aware of the hostel’s page when pictures of the events are uploaded and tagged on the Facebook page.
Information regarding the quality of dormitories is an important factor in the purchasing decision of potential guests since it will be their living space. This strategy is aimed at leveraging on the social networking aspect of Facebook, and extracting and building positive reviews regarding the dormitories of the Shophouse. On a monthly basis, albums of the hostel’s full dormitory range will be posted on their Facebook page. This suggests that followers exposed to the post will mostly consist of guests or ex-guests of the hostel, allowing the hostel to harness post-purchase word-of-mouth.
These DorMYtory posts will be a call-to-action for guests or ex-guests. Guests will have to comment, like and share the album in combination, to stand a chance of a free 2-way budget air ticket to Singapore. In the comment section of the album, guests will be called to share the best memory at the hostel, and why they would love to return. The best experience shared will be selected to win. The action of having guests like, comment and share will increase the hostel’s brand awareness, brand engagement and word of mouth. The attractive prize also serves to incentivise users and to generate buzz and excitement. With the storage of these albums filled with word-of-mouth content regarding the various dormitory ranges of the hostel, these archived with albums serve as credible sources to move potential guests forward in their stages of information search and evaluation of alternatives. Furthermore, when users share the album onto their Facebook page, the hostel’s awareness will be raised more broadly as well.
Like the execution of the campaign on Facebook, the extension of the #ILoveShophouseBcos campaign on Instagram is purposed extract reviews through the increase in ease of giving reviews. It is also intended to harness post-purchase word-of-mouth. This strategy will take advantage of the new Instagram feature of Instagram Stories. Although Instagram Stories imitates the exact functions of Snapchat, Instagram Stories was chosen over Snapchat for the execution of this strategy as Instagram Stories allows for public reach and will ultimately serve to complement and enhance the credibility of the other recommended strategies later explained.
On a daily basis, guests checking out of the Shophouse will be recorded for a maximum of 10 seconds sharing “I love shophouse because…”. These live reviews will be stored on Instagram Stories for a life span of 24 hours before the next collection of videos is recorded again the next day. This storage will act as a valuable resource for potential guests who utilize Instagram as a means to retrieve word-of-mouth content online, moving them forward in their stages of information search and evaluation of alternatives. The availability of live, authentic reviews on the hostel’s Instagram page also enhances the credibility of the static content available that may be perceived as staged and received with scepticism.
Unlike Facebook, the dynamism and potency of visuals chosen to be uploaded on Instagram to capture the attention of users on first impression is vital as only a single image can be shared in a moment. To heighten engagement between users on the hostel’s Instagram page and raise awareness of its events, the Shophouse should have a “Caption Me” contest on photos uploaded to promote the events. This will build commitment and a sense of community, as even followers who were not able to attend the event will still involved. Winners of the contest could be given vouchers to eat at the café attached to the Shophouse – The Working Title. This active participation through repeated interactions also serves to generate commitment and loyalty from guests.
This strategy will be aimed at promoting the staff of the Shophouse to convey a sense of personal touch and intimacy. Pictures of the staff will be shared. However, to make these posts relevant to travellers, stories themed “Born Here, Done That” will be attached as captions. Staff will share personalised local insight unavailable to travellers on the Internet, heightening the value of the hostel’s value of a source of information and travel advice. When travellers associate the Shophouse with resourcefulness, credibility of the hostel will increase and travellers will be more inclined to trust and book with the Shophouse.
The hostel is strategically located near Bugis MRT and is located in an area with numerous bus services. In order to highlight the relevancy and competitiveness of the Shophouse’s location, posts purposed to highlight this key resource of the hostel will be themed by the “I Am Here”, as illustrated in Diagram 8 and Diagram 9, I Am Here serves to educate and inform travellers on routes they may take to distinctive places of travel from the Shophouse. To heighten the value and significance of these posts, one post will be shared a week. Each post will focus on a single MRT stop or a bus route. In the post, personalized local insight will be shared regarding what travellers could explore and discover in those specific destinations. In contrast to the general and paid travel content travellers usually find online through native advertisements, these authentic and informative posts will be of great value to travellers. When travellers identify the hostel as resourceful, a greater sense of trust will be developed, thus building the credibility of the Shophouse. This image will positively facilitate travellers in their stages of information search and evaluation of alternatives.
These carefully planned social media strategies were intended to be cost-efficient and easy to implement. With the advent of the rise of social media and the paradigm shift in behaviour of consumers, it is pertinently important for the hostel to build a robust social media presence, as creating a strong brand identity online is an effort that is not just important, but necessary. The arena of social media is also one that is constantly evolving. Based on this premise, strategies recommended were developed in the context of the 4Cs of connections, creation, consumption and control, to set up a framework to facilitate the conversations and interactions of users. After the implementation of these recommendations, it is vital for the hostel to listen carefully to these conversations and measure the impact they have on the objectives of the brand. After successfully securing a stable and diversified base of guests through the implementation of this initial phase of strategies, the Shophouse should look into building and cementing customer loyalty. It is only when they are able to convert customers into loyalists that a system where positive feedback is directed to others, while negative feedback is directed to management is able to be sustained. Without the existence of loyalty, guests will be motivated to indirectly control or influence the hostel by communicating with its future potential guests through social media, to either reward or punish. (Pan & Crotts, 2012)
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Inerview with Shophouse the Social Hostel
Name: Tasha Naadhira
Company: ShopHouse the Social Hostel
Relationship with Interviewee: Friend
Contact: +65 9021 4451
Current Target Audience / Profiling of Current Target Audience
Tasha: Most of the bookings come through travel agent engines such as agoda.com. expedia.com and booking.com. Highest bookings come from traveloka (expedia Indonesia). Most of the travellers communicate through email.
Reservations are not accepted through phone or email and only through website and Trip Advisor. This is to avoid last minute cancellations and double bookings from occurring. Usually backpackers do a pit stop in Singapore before going to Bali or Aussie. Facebook is a main tool for queries and also lost and found and for marketing events purposes. Occupancy of hostel is average 84.7 % throughout the year, with March and April being the slowest. Peak periods are January, June-September (due to F1) and December. Low occupancy during fasting month is due to the drop in Indonesian travellers.
They are mostly aged from 22-30 years old. They are mostly students or middle class workers or freelancers. Backpackers who travel on a tight budget prefer hostels to hotels as they end up saving a few hundreds of dollars. They’re usually single travellers or travel in groups of 3 to 8. There’s mostly more female travellers than male.
85% of our guests are from Indonesia because of the location of the hostel. It is situated near a few mosque and places where halal food is easily available. Also there is no fear of language barrier as most of the shop owners in that area are fluent in Malay. Bugis and town are also very near and accessible to other tourist attractions.
Most of them are carefree guests book with the Shophouse for its social aspect. There is a roof top lounge where guest can mingle and socialize with each other to share their different cultures. Also, the Shophouse actively holds social events for guest and locals to mingle and better understand our culture and have an immersive experience.
These guests also appreciate good service because most of our rivals don’t really add in that sense of personal touch like us.
Competitors are those located near-by: 5 Stones, Green Kiwi, 5 Foot Way Inn, Bunc Hostel
Company’s Current Social Media Analysis
Travel agent booking engines like agoda.com, expedia.com, booking.com.
Aim & Intention Of Social Media Strategies
Aim is to promote the sociable aspect of the hostel. Both bosses are backpackers who used to backpack lot and they decided to open up the hostel to provide travel friendly amenities and facilities that they had always wanted.
Room rates have to be monitored every 3 days and weekly in order to maintain a steady flow of guest. Decreasing room rates during low occupancy period helps boost the sales to a certain extent. FLASH sales after 7.30pm takes place to fill up the dorms to make the most out of the dorms.
Increasing our visibility through Trip Advisor is key as most of the business comes through them. Social media helps in a certain way. Guests usually get on social media to check the popularity and credibility of the hostel. Most of the Instagram posts have a very personal and local aspect to it. We even involve our staff’s daily life just so they know the difference in lifestyle between cultures.
Staffs also bring guests out on free of charge tours to places that are of low cost in Singapore. This is to break the stereotype of Singapore that it’s expensive for backpackers.
Maintain Relationships With Frequent / Regular Guests
We have social gatherings with them when they return. We remember their personal preference and will also add a personal touch to their stay by chilling with the guests at the cafe or the rooftop after work. We give them discounts or maintain a good relationship via social media.
Since most of the travellers are from Indonesia, sales get affected during Ramadan month and occupancy can be as low as 30%. One way to combat this is to attract guests from other parts of the world or even Asia. Expand the audience scope to reduce reliance on Indonesian guests.
Low Repeat Visitors
This might be due to the rising of more hostels near to the location. Travellers would want to explore their options but when most of the repeat guests come back, it is for the service.
Social media can be projected better. Right now, the focus in on the Trip Advisor’s websites. Trip Advisor reviews also help boost the sales but guest are usually lazy to leave a Trip Advisor review as it takes 10 minutes or so to complete.
Most Urgent Issue To Be Solved
Expanding the targeted audience pool. Thailand, Vietnam & Australia would be places where awareness of the hostel can be improved.