Hostels

With growing demand for backpacker hostels, how positive entrepreneur Pallavi Agarwal of goSTOPS is amid pandemic

Since the launch of its first hostel in Varanasi in 2014, GoStops expanded its presence in 27 different locations in India and welcomed over 4,000,000 travelers to our 28 properties.

Intrepid traveler throughout her life, Pallavi Agarwal first experienced the life of a backpacker during a trip to Europe in 2012.

“Shortly after the trip, I realized that there was a clear need for pocket social accommodation that met the aspirations of the massive youth population in India, which led me to my entrepreneurial journey. She said of the pain point behind the business.

Riding the wave of startups, Pallavi, founder and CEO of goSTOPS, made foray into a less established segment of the hospitality industry using the hostel model.

“The young Indian traveler deserves the best accommodation experience wherever they go, without having to increase their budget. The introduction of the concept of hostels in India meant that the country’s youth would have access to high-quality, branded accommodation that until now was beyond the reach of Gen Z. Our unique strategy is focused on millennials and Gen-Zs who have no inhibitions about trying new experiences, who are free-spirited and yet perceptive at the same time, ”she explains.

Rising demand

The pandemic and the “new normal” that followed caused a significant shift in consumer behavior, spawning new travel trends and practices. As the hospitality industry returns to normal, Pallavi says we will see a huge pent-up demand for travel.

“What we are seeing today is a growing demand for backpacker hostels with bookings up 110% since August 2021. We are also seeing an increasing number of bookings from solo travelers in recent months, with individuals weary of the monotony of staying at home and looking for some time for myself, preferring to travel alone. In addition, the trend for workstations has skyrocketed in recent months, ”she said.

Taking advantage of these new trends and expectations, goSTOPS has pivoted differently – expanding to new ‘superb’ locations in India and recently added new goSTOPS stays in Kerala, Goa and prime locations in Uttarakhand such as Rishikesh Lakshman Jhula, Mussoorie, Kasar Devi, Mukteshwar and Nainital.

Pallavi reveals that compared to last year, his ARR has increased six-fold.

“We went from 700 beds in 2019 to 2,000 beds in October 2021, tripling the size by leveraging the availability of good quality hotels to our advantage. As demand has increased proportionately, we are confident that RevPAB, (Revenue per Available Bed), will soon exceed pre-COVID times. We have already tripled the absolute numbers and according to recent booking trends our RevPAB is already exceeding the October 2019 numbers. Since we launched our ‘Work Away From Home’ package in 2020, we have seen an increase of almost 1 000% of demand, especially in destinations within a short drive of subways and mini-metros. “

The Diwali holiday season has also seen a 50-60% increase in daily bookings. Due to the growing traveler preference and booking requests for offbeat leisure destinations, goSTOPS destinations such as Jaipur, Udaipur, Pushkar and business cities like Mumbai, Amritsar and Delhi have performed extremely well.

Pallavi Agarwal

Experiences to attract new travelers

In an effort to create an ecosystem for young backpackers across the country, the company has also integrated EaseMyTrip in addition to the online travel aggregators (OTAs) already available.

“Recently, we also launched our community management and volunteer program to bridge the gap between goSTOPS and its community. This program aims to provide a comprehensive experience for young travel enthusiasts and the volunteers responsible for running and managing a hostel and creating the most engaging, interactive and memorable experiences for guests staying at all goSTOPS properties, ”Pallavi adds.

goSTOPS offers accommodation options in well-equipped social dormitories with 8/6/4 air-conditioned beds as well as youth private rooms with minimalist design. In total, 70% of the goSTOPS inventory consists of dorms and 30% of private rooms.

Each hostel has indoor and outdoor common areas with facilities for recreation, work, socializing with other travelers, games or just relaxation. It also has a 24/7 cafe with a centralized food offering for a standardized dining experience for its young guests.

Its recent launch goEXPERIENCES, a new vertical focused on Generation Z and Generation Y, offers an array of exciting experiences and adventures across various popular destinations in India. The experiences are curated by the trekking and travel experts at goSTOPS, while also offering direct bookings and distributing them across all channels: website, app, IVR, OTA.

“We also have ‘work from home’ packages that provide the ideal post-lockdown work and living spaces for young travelers and come with all kinds of perks such as high-speed Wi-Fi, dedicated work, leisure activities, proper cleaning and disinfection practices to ensure travelers have a safe and healthy stay. We also have ‘group booking’ options for young backpackers traveling with a group of friends and looking for friendly shared spaces and accommodations, ”she says.

Towards aggressive growth

On the other hand, goSTOPS helps hotel or guesthouse owners generate higher income by renting and renovating their properties and converting them into an exciting goSTOPS hostel and providing them with managed operations. end-to-end by professionals, information-driven design intelligence, professional support for sales, marketing and distribution and best-in-class technology deployment.

Zostel and The hostel are its main competitors as well as collaborators in the hostel space.

In 2020-2021, goSTOPS raised a fundraiser led by 1Crowd Fund and angel investors, including Nitish Mittersain, founder of Nazara Games. Recently, he raised $ 1 million in pre-series A run by Indian Angel Network and Yuj Ventures, the private investment arm of the family office of the founder of the Xander group, Sid Yog.

The cycle also saw the participation of The Chennai Angels, Chandigarh Angels, Lead Angels, Mumbai Angels Network, LetsVenture as well as existing goSTOPS lead investor, 1Crowd. KRS Jamwal, Uday Chatterjee and Mitesh Shah led this round at IAN.

According to Pallavi, the newly injected funds will be used to increase the supply of goSTOPS over the next 12 months – to invest in marketing, acquire cutting edge technology and build the team. The company is also aiming to raise $ 10-12 million by March 2022 and achieve revenue of Rs 1,500 crore by 2027 from its standing figures of Rs 12 crore per year.

Pallavi wants to move forward with a positive outlook even though, as part of the shared economy segment, hostels have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

“We plan to add 60 hostels to our current lineup of 28 by March 2022. By 2027, our goal is to add 75,000 beds and achieve revenue of around Rs 1,500 crore. . We aim to raise 10-12 million dollars by March 2022 and by 2024 we are all ready to expand into exotic international destinations in Sri Lanka, Nepal and South East Asia ”, a- she declared.


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