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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Taking the next step

As many of you will already be aware, I have toyed with the idea of opening my own hostel for some time now. Even before my time in Canada, it was something that had been discussed with my dear friend Michael. We came up with the general concept of a good time hostel (that sounds a little like a brothel - definitely not in our plan) as well as the name; Hostelle Mickelena. 'Hostelle' was an homage to our friends Down Under who are constantly being ridiculed for not being able to grasp the Northern Hemisphere pronunciation of 'hostel'. Mickelena should be self explanatory; it was a very simple yet effective joining of our names.

While working in Canada however, the idea began to take more shape. I met people from all over the world who stayed in such a wide variety of hostels. Even my own experiences travelling throughout Europe had given me some insight into the way it all worked. Hostels are a viable option for many tourists - for the more independent traveller it is nearly always the first port of call - apart from those thrill seekers who are capable of couch surfing! It is also no longer just for younger backpackers. A lot of hostels will cater to any age and, due to the (generally) better value pricing options than a hotel and the general public's tendency to travel on a budget, a much wider demographic are looking to hostel accommodation while travelling.

So, I made my decision and came up with many drunken plans over my time at Global, discussing with all different ages and nationalities the sort of hostel I would open. It would be a fun place to stay, with a kitchen and a huge common area and a smoking patio on the roof and big rooms with fireplaces and personalised towels and a heli-pad and a spiral staircase leading from reception to the bar and a games room... dreaming big and a little beyond my means clearly. I do have a certain amount of practical knowledge already (who knew my degree would come in so handy?!) to go with my big ideas but where to go from there?

In reality, setting up a business is not always just a case of a (in my humble opinion) brilliant idea. It requires planning; market research, a business plan, marketing ideas, pricing strategies, budgets, financial backing, premises, design, recruitment, implementation, growing and maintaining a customer base. Not to mention actually running the feckin thing once all of these steps are accomplished, as well as the multitude of steps I'm sure to have forgotten. It's kind of like what I imagine Alcoholics Anonymous to be like; it's not only hard getting sober (depending on who you're talking to); it's staying sober that is the really difficult part.

What should the first step be? I've got the name - Mama Goose. No offence to Michael but as the nickname stuck to me in Toronto, it came to embody the ethos that I wanted to embrace at my hostel - a family-like, welcoming atmosphere that makes people feel at home away from home. Might not be the most exciting or original but I know that is what I look for when I travel. A policy I would like to continue to stick by; if I wouldn't stay there, why should I expect my guests to?

Watch this space - I will most likely be looking for lots of feedback to my upcoming posts as I struggle to get this off the ground and look forward to having you all stay at Mama Goose in the future!