Thursday, 12 February 2015

An insight into 5-star Hostelling with Smart City Hostels in Edinburgh

Many people haven’t experienced Hostelling because they are not sure what to expect – and at SIH we know they are missing out.  Hostelling has changed dramatically in the last ten years from simple basic, budget accommodation to being the perfect choice for an overnight stay or holiday for many people.  
We asked Jayne Goodsir, Sales Manager at 5-star Smart City Hostels in Edinburgh about their approach to providing a high quality Hostelling experience for their guests.

Why is a 5-star Award from Visit Scotland important for Smart City Hostels?

It’s important to us because it shows we offer
a certain level of product and service.  There’s a general misconception in the UK about what a Hostel is: poor quality, sharing with many people and so on.  We have a friendly, relaxed, up-beat vibe where socialising and interaction with guests (in today’s world, this also means social media interaction!) is at the centre of what we do.  This is a different feel to a ‘typical’ Hostel

How you manage to keep costs so low and still provide a high quality stay?

We provide good value for money.  We will always be in line with what the budget accommodation sector in Edinburgh offers to guests in terms of cost.  We provide great service and a brilliant product for a reasonable price, and overall we ordinarily exceed guests’ expectations.  Personal touches such as the new home from home treats we are introducing for sale at reception soon (for example Australian Tim tams, Korean Sae Wookkangs and New Zealand Pineapple lumps) add to a guests experience

Why are all rooms ensuite?

Traveller expectations are now much higher.  You wouldn’t expect to stay away overnight and have fewer facilities than in your own home.  All of our rooms are en-suite, and our 8 bed dorms have 2 toilets and 2 showers for the convenience of our guests. This approach to providing what people need goes right through the facilities in the Hostel from our guest kitchen with utensils and some cooking ingredients to our free Wi-Fi throughout the building.

How do you keep your staff motivated to provide such great customer service?

 Our team are the life and soul of the building.  Given that our Hostel stay and experience is based on interaction, it’s of great importance that our team are the epitome of the values we hold as a brand.  Generally, the team are fantastic at customer service – they genuinely care about our guests and the experience they have with us.  We have brilliant team days out in Edinburgh so we bond as a team and learn more about each other’s jobs and departments within the Hostel that allow the building to function.  We also take in great local experiences, such as Camera Obscura, Can You Escape and the Edinburgh Dungeons, so that these can be recommended to guests through personal experience.  The team thrive on getting positive feedback, when they’ve been involved in the customer experience.

Who are your customers?

Our target audience in the main is between 18 – 35 years old.  However, we do have regular guests up to the age of 75 and children too.  International education groups stay with us throughout the course of the year.  At the weekends, we get lots of bookings from groups of friends looking to explore bars, restaurants and night life.  We have local, national and international guests stay with us.  We are very careful of the in-house mix of people at Smart City Hostels and ensure the guest experience is excellent.  We have just been awarded a Gold Trusted Merchant Award by Feefo (an independent review platform) for outstanding customer service.  

We are home to Bar 50.  The general public are welcome in Bar 50 and this bodes well with our guests / travellers.  The locals mix with our guests, who then get good tips and gain some knowledge from the real professionals on Edinburgh – the locals.

What is your main challenge?

Our biggest challenge is ‘Why should we stay with you when you’re selling at the same price as the budget hotel round the corner?’  It’s simple: the experience!  No matter your age, you’ll have much better fun. Those who are young at heart will enjoy a Hostel experience.  If you’ve not stayed in Hostel before (or within the past 10 years!) you should come and visit us.  I am sure you’ll be amazed! 

Catch up with Jayne again on next week’s blog when she gives us a great insight into why Edinburgh is such a great place to visit

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