Guides - 08/30/17

So You Want to Own a Hostel

Written by Nan T

In the vibrant Silom district of Bangkok, Dreamcatcher Hostel is far from the tourist hordes who now dominate the city centre. Founder Derrick Yazwa shares 5 useful tips for budding hostel owners breaking into the travel business.


Visiting a world famous city such as Bangkok is on everyone’s bucket list. Having spent 5 years living in this up and coming metropolis, Derrick Yazwa saw an opportunity for entrepreneurship, where he merged his love for travel and food.

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona and having traveled all over Asia, Derrick is passionate about helping people reach their goals and putting their best self forward, whether it be through teaching English in China or through his online consulting business. In June 2017, he opened the door to his first brick and mortar business, ‘Dreamcatcher Bar and Hostel’ in the bustling Silom area of Bangkok.

The beautifully designed building manages to feel industrial with plenty of exposed bricks, wooden floors and a loft-inspired cafe on the ground floor. Its Thai influence is accentuated by local craft beers and authentic Northern food made from recipes created by his mother-in-law. On a sunny Monday afternoon, Derrick shares some valuable lessons he learned as a first-time hostel owner amidst the city’s competitive travel sector.

1. Plan for the future

Starting a physical business is a huge commitment, both financially and in terms of dedication. Derrick started out with a couple of online businesses before guiding entrepreneurs in the planning of their finances- as hostels tend to require a lot of cash on hand. The business owner might want to start by doing freelance work on the side to ramp up their cash flow or find partners who share a similar vision.

2. It’s all about who you work with

To run a business in the field of services, it is essential that to find the right team. Large scale businesses such as a hostel need a strong team that can drive traffic, run office tasks and most importantly, maintain a positive mindset.

3. Find your competitive edge

It is important to have the right mindset if you hope to own a hostel or you will run the risk of putting your business in danger. Even though a hostel is considered a budget option for travelers, visitors still want a one of a kind experience. That’s why Dreamcatcher Bar and Hostel have combined a modern beer bar concept with homemade Northern Thai Cuisine, and the bonus of spacious roof top to cater to city dwellers and creative travelers.

4. Expect the unexpected

Budget more than you actually need in order to overcome potential unexpected costs as hostels require construction and renovation work of some sort. You must also be willing to let go of a fixed expectation from what the decor will look like, as well as a tentative opening date because these variables are likely to change as a business progresses.

5. Keep pushing

At last, your hostel is ready to open its door for the first time. To make sure that your hard work has paid off, don’t forget to keep pushing your business out there through online marketing tools and social media. Do not be afraid to ask for feedback as that can help you improve and adjust your business accordingly.

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