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Wed 02 Jun 2004
Category : Commentary/bookhostel.txt
Riddle solved. I was wondering how all the travellers' hostels we have in Singapore (including the very small ones) could have gotten into so many web sites, like Lonely Planet, RoughGuides, BootsnAll, etc.
The answer is BookHostel.com. All these sites are using the same search engine. What a lovely business. I wish I had thought about it but we're probably too late. It's truly world-wide in scale. You can do business exclusively using the web. You don't have to send people all over the world to set up offices and drum up business. And you don't have to deal with IT departments. You deal with the owners of the hostels themselves who, of course, can make the decisions. It gives good value to these owners. And seems easy enough to set up.
There's also a desktop application a hostel owner can use to tie in all the bookings they get through BookHostels.com, with all those they get through direct calls. It's called Backpack for Windows, and there's no Mac version. It's a pity because the Mac's a great platform to run a hostel on, as we hope to show.
Also, it only handles the reservation aspect of running a hostel.
I was trying to drive a spine through the hostel operations so that all the reservations and administration activities end up in the accounting system. The idea is that you should collect data as a by-product of all the operational activities, and all these data should show up automatically in the accounting system (i.e., that you shouldn't need to re-enter data again and again to get it from one system to another). You can try to do this manually for a small-scale 12-bed operation. But it would be difficult to work this way if you need to grow to an 80-bed operation or work across two or more sites.
Fortunately, we've already had the basis of a hotel reservation system in an earlier work we did for managing course reservations, as well as for room reservations for a business centre. And we have Luca. The key to getting the required efficiency from streamlining all the operations is having the ability to integrate directly with an accounting system. And if the accounting system can guarantee that the data is accurate, you've got a good view into how the business is performing in financial terms.
And all these need to be there just so the people actually running the place can concentrate on delivering service, security, cleanliness, and a rollicking good time - all the stuff that a hostel is actually graded on - without constantly attending to the computer system. At least that's the theory. But it's a statement of intent.