Rodamon Mr Albert Polo
We recently caught up with Albert Polo from Rodamon Hostels for part one of our GuestCentrix Global Hostel Experts Series which will discuss a range of topics and issues that are front of mind for hostels & hybrid hoteliers.
1. GuestCentrix: You have a varied portfolio of hostels in different parts of Europe and Africa. Will we see more out of the box destinations for hostels in the next couple of years?
Albert Polo:  Yes, I see more destinations coming over the next few years.
In my opinion, there are two main types of destinations which have a great potential for growth. On one side, you have mature markets in terms of tourism and hotel industry but, at the same time, with a very little “hostel” market share. These are destinations like the USA or Japan where the hostel market has just started and has a long way to go.
On the other side, there are other destinations where tourism has just started to develop over the last years such as Marrakech or Baku in Azerbaijan, and where there are very little options available. Those markets are big opportunities. Once hostels start to open in such locations, they will create a destination by themselves and you’ll see more and more hostels opening in destinations like Marrakech.
2. GC: What made Marrakesh an interesting destination for your new hostel?
AP: I must confess that I’m in love with Morocco. The first time I visited the country was 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve been going there almost once a year and I have seen an spectacular change in the country. It has developed at a giant’s pace. I have seen how tourism has grown in the country but specially in Marrakech. And at the same time, there are only 5 or 6 hostels in the city and none of them with European standards in terms of quality and design.
We knew that many young millennials visit Marrakesh every year and wanted to give them a special product than can compare and compete with any other regardless of its location being Europe or Africa.
I know that for many it might sound like a risky adventure, but I’m sure that we are only the first of many that will follow our path to this city.
3. GC: What is your view on the New “Super” hostels with 1000+ beds?
AP: Well, I do not have any bad feelings against them. I think that hostels have to be rated against its services, comfort, cleanliness, etc. Not by the number of beds that they have.
So, if a 1000+ bed hostel is able to offer, good services, design, great customer attention etc. It means that they are doing a very good job regardless of the how big they are.
Some people complain about such big hostels being impersonal, without a soul. But I do not think so.
I used to work for the campsite industry, in a Campsite with +8.000 beds of capacity. And it had one of the best atmospheres that I know of.
If you have a look at the most of the big hostels reviews, you’ll see that they do not have more than 8,5 on average. Which is a very good rate. However, the only hostels that I see with +9 are those with a number of beds between 40 and 300. This means that the bigger the hostel, the harder it is to keep services and facilities at high levels.
4. GC: What does “Flashpacker” mean to you?
AP: I think the most common definition for “flashpacker” is someone who travels like a backpacker, but who is usually older, has a higher budget, and prefers to stay in private rooms. To me it just seems like a new name for a group that’s been around for a long time, rather than a new group of people who’ve suddenly begun traveling.
I go on trips of up to 2 months, often stay in hostels and carry a backpack but I don’t think of myself as a backpacker. The main difference between how I travel now and how I traveled when I was younger and poorer is that I don’t normally stay in dorms anymore, but get a double room with my partner, and usually en-suite. Maybe that is Flashpacking!
5. GC: Will next generation of travelers opt even more for hostels when looking for accommodation or is there a risk that traditional hotels will take back their market share or alternative sleep over option gain traction?
AP: Next generation will definitely opt more for hostels at the same time that hostels will also evolution-ate.
What I think that is going to happen is that traditional hotel brands will start either offering “hostel” like products and rooms in their hotels or that this brands will create a branch of hostels to expand their market share to hostel market. A recent example of that is the new hostel brand “Jo&Joe” hostels that has been created form scratch by the hotel chain Accor.