' response to Reader's Feedback:

By Ed Goldswain, assistant general manager,

Published: 06 Feb 2007

By Ed Goldswain, assistant general manager,

I wanted to give some feedback to an article on hostel booking engines
"Reader's feedback: Downside to hostel booking sites" posted yesterday.

There are some inaccuracies relating to HostelBookers that I'd like to respond

Feedback: "Sorry the interactive part of Google Maps (on
doesn't seem to work. (2/6/2007) Maps of cities - at least in California - do
appear but the locations of the hostels are not pointed out. "Google Maps" and
"Google Earth" does have the capability of showing exact locations, but the
folks at HostelBookers have yet to figure that out."

Goldswain's response: We're in the process of collecting GPS coordinates of
all of our hostels - as I'm sure you appreciate this is a long and difficult
process. At the moment we have two types of maps live - one only showing a
Google Map of the destination, and the other showing a Google Map of the
destination with hostels overlaid onto it. We currently have around 100 of our
top destinations (some in California) showing this second type of map
(including hostel locations - e.g. San Francisco), and are working to roll out
all other destinations as soon as possible. We're limited in showing all of our
destinations as Google don't yet map the whole world. They're very limited in
South and Central America, Africa and Asia.

Feedback: "Another downside to most all Hostel booking sites is that most only
list hostels that sign up with their own booking service. The booking fees
generate the revenue to keep the sites alive and to proliferate. While larger
hostels have sufficient knowledgeable staff to list with numerous booking
services, smaller hostels don't have the bed capacity, nor sufficient staff to
oversee all these booking services, all using different formats, on a daily
basis. Consequently only a few hostels are listed by each booking service."

Goldswain's response: HostelBookers are the only hostel booking site that
doesn't charge a booking fee - we take a 10 percent commission from the hostel
on each booking, with the traveler paying the remaining 90 percent on arrival.
While this means we make less money than our competitors, in the long run we
hope this will result in HostelBookers becoming the hostel booking engine of
choice. I appreciate that our stock is limited to hostels that opt-in to work
with us (currently 8,000 and rising), but we do need this to ensure that all
partner properties give customers the service they expect - at the most basic
level this means ensuring bed availability and that prices on arrival are the
same as those quoted online.

Feedback: "The largest worldwide hostel chain, Hostelling International, has
its own free booking service, so many HI-affiliated hostels will only be listed
at HI web sites. Since HI-affiliated hostels have to meet and maintain minimum
standards, are inspected at least annually, they generally have the highest
quality ratings for cleanliness and safety. Any customer complaints are taken
seriously and can be appealed up to national headquarters. Many small
independent hostels have a "friendlier feel" since they are more lenient when
observing normal hostel house rules. However, many are derelict when it comes
to cleanliness, fire safety, personal security and customer satisfaction."

Goldswain's response: There is currently no recognised standard for hostels as
there is for hotels, so variable quality of accommodation and experience is an
inevitable issue, and one that we take very seriously. All HostelBookers
customers are asked to complete a hostel review after their stay. These reviews
are shown online so travelers can make an informed decision based on other
people's experiences. If a hostel gets consistently bad ratings and ignores
constructive feedback from our Customer Experience Team they will be removed
from HostelBookers' website.

(Goldswain has responded to's reader Peter Pethoe feedback -
Reader's feedback: Downside to hostel booking sites
('s reader Peter Pethoe responded to
partners with Google Maps

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