The story of Hostel Alice, in São Paulo, a vegan, petfriendly and childfriendly hostel
DONA ALICE, THE BIG INSPIRATION
Denise always liked to travel and stay in hostels. In 2007, her grandmother Alice, who lived in a beautiful house in Vila Madalena, broke the news that she had bought an apartment, and was moving out.
Alice and Denise stayed together thinking about what kind of business they could do in that house and take advantage of the opportunity. That was when Denise had the idea to open a hostel.
As her grandmother had 6 children, her house was always full of people.
But she didn’t even know what a hostel was. Denise took her to visit some hostels in the region, and she was delighted with the proposal.
“In 2010 she called me and said that the apartment was renovated and she was about to move. She told me: if you want to open the hostel, it’s now or never! That’s when I ran to do a business plan and market research. I joined the São Paulo Hostels Association, even before I opened the doors of my business,” recalls Denise.
The renovations started in January 2011, and opened on June 11, 2011.
“The name, Hostel Alice, was a tribute to my dear grandmother, who, to this day, supports me a lot.”
STARTING IN A MARKET STILL UNEXPLORED
When they opened the hostel in 2011, the movement was intense.
At the time, there were very few hostels in the city. They always managed to keep the house full, especially of foreigners.
Denise shared her shifts with her brothers, Rafael and Luiza, and had a cleaning lady.
“We did all shifts at reception, sleepless nights and a lot of beers consumed!”
Every beginning is difficult, but it was rewarded by the good movement of the time.
But a lot of competition started to emerge in the sector. The worldcup resulted in a boom of hostels in the city, and competition changed the market a lot.
They had to deal with the difficulty of the appearance of many hostels, coupled with the emergence of airbnb, which also had an impact.
So they decided to reinvent themselves, and focus on the experience they provided, finding a new market niche, which the guest would not find elsewhere.
FINDING A NEW MARKET
In 2015, Renata joined the company. Then they started thinking about new possibilities.
The kitchen has always been the focal point of the hostel, as they love to cook. Denise, after all, is a nutritionist.
In 2016 they started holding events with vegan food. At the same time, they rented a house to expand the hostel and in this new property, they were left with 2 rooms and two kitchens, not knowing exactly what to do to occupy these spaces.
In April 2017, they decided to make the week of Padoca Vegan and it was a success. They then decided that they could not pass up this opportunity. “We renovated the kitchen and transformed the living room and kitchen in one of the houses in Padoca Vegan. This also solved a big problem that was breakfast. Before, it was prepared by worldpackers and sometimes it was wonderful, sometimes it was horrible. Today we have a special combo for guests for R$ 10 (coffee, juice, bread on the plate and a piece of cake) ”.
With this new proposal, they managed to increase guest satisfaction and bring a different niche.
In addition to being a vegan hostel, the Alice hostel is petfriendly and childfriendly.
THE FRIENDSHIP THAT BROUGHT A BIG BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP
Hostel Alice was one of the testers of hqbeds.
Before that, they used a simpler system, the online backpack.
Due to her friendship with Rogério, one of the company’s founders, Denise believed in the proposal and supported the new business.
“We started using the hq at the very beginning of it, in 2014, as testers. We ended up getting into it because of the friendship with Rogério, who was starting to develop the system, but also because we believe that the HQ has a potential to innovate in the software market, understanding our values and the day-to-day reception.”
Denise says that because it is a system created by a hostel owner, it understands their needs very well.
“We never had overbooking again, but I think the biggest changes were in terms of finance and inventory control, which helped us to get an overview of the hostel and understand how to improve and optimize the business.”
THE BACKPACK OF HQ CONTINUES!
We will bring real stories of hostel owners from all over to find out what they have learned, how they evolved and the passion of each one for the hostel lifestyle.
See you in soon!