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INFOHOSTELS.COM HOSTEL OWNER QUESTIONNAIRE:
Hostel Name: Sleepy Lion
Your Name: Ronny Siegmund, owner
A Brief Description of your hostel:
The Sleepy Lion is the very first independent hostel in the city of Leipzig, now with nearly 200 beds in the center of town. All rooms are en-suite, 24 hours reception, free Wifi, All-You-Can-Eat breakfast for just 4 EUR, even with comfy self catering apartments.
1. When did you open your first hostel? How many beds you started with? Was it easy at the beginning? Or it got easier once everything is set already?
We started in September 2000 with 50 beds in a freshly renovated building in Leipzig. At this time it was easy because we were first in town and we due to the upcoming internet were immediately listed on the very few traveler and backpacking sites.
But also difficult because no one in Germany knew what is a hostel and focusing on international guests we had to work to get acknowleged by Lonely Planet and Lets Go to be reviewed in there books.
2. What exactly inspired you to open a hostel ?
I was travelling 3 months in Australia in 1994. From there i got this idea and inspiration for a opening a hostel. But the time just came a few years later when the real estate market in Leipzig was down, many buildings were to rent even for low prices and the internet became more and more important.
3. What it feels like to manage a hostel?
Now with 200 beds and 20 employees and growing bureaucracy,rules and regulations every year in a western country, it is more about coping with staff and authorities, than going out with guests in a good bar as it was in the first years.
4. How many hostels were in your city when you opened yours?
When we opened there was just one boring HI hostel existing, far away from the city center. We now have about a dozen hostels. Most of them with 30 up to 60 beds, but even one with about 600 beds.
5. Is your hostel a part of a chain or private?
It is fully private owned by two partners.
6. Have you stayed in a hostel before opening yours?
Yes, in dumb german HI hostels, in several hostels in Australia and one night in the Three Ducks in Paris.
7. Are you still satisfied with your decision to open a hostel or you are having some doubts whether it was the right choice?
All in all it was definitely the right choice at this time.
8. What's the average type of customers you have in the hostel today?
It is so mixed that i really can't say what the average guest is.
9. Has your hostel also private rooms or it's just dorms?
We have about 40% private rooms (twins, triples, apartments)
10. Does your hostel offer any extra activities ? What makes your hostel outstanding or better compare to others?
We stopped long time ago offering extra activities. It makes a lot of work. We 'd rather send guests to places where they can find what they are looking for.
We don't have extraordinary paintings in the rooms. We are catering for travelers now for more than 15 years and our reception is open 24 hours, every a day a week, even on Christmas Eve and we have transparent and never overpriced rates.
11. If you would have unlimited amount of money, where would you invest it in, to make growing your current one?
Since our building is in a good shape and we just moved in five years ago, i would invest the money in other things at the moment.
12. How do you see your hostel's future and future of the hostels in general ?
Our hostel will be still there in ten years. I am not sure if i am running it by myself. Families as guests becoming more important. I think many guests nowadays give a damn if the place is called hotel, hostel or b & b, they just search for a place within a price range, in a certain location and with some facilities (WiFi, Kitchen etc.) they need and they look what they find on google, booking or tripadvisor.
13. How the hostels have changed in the past years ?
15 years ago hostels usually were founded by young guys in there mid or late twenties with little money and no knowledge of hotels or accomodation business, but experience in travelling. I knew every hostel owner in Germany personally, even many in Europe. It was more like a network of friends. Word to mouth, Lonely Planet and Let's Go guidebooks, flyers etc. were things that made you famous. It changed a lot with booking enginges and google adwords and the posibilities to travel cheaper with planes and busses.
The business now is much faster but even much more professional. Now there are big players in the market and many hostels rely on booking portal sites only.
14. How does the hostel influence the local area ?
I think we were providing more international atmosphere in the city and also made way for more hostels.
15. What's your advice to the future hostels?
Don't think about reinvent the wheel. Hostel business now is a very established business. There still might be niches, but at the end of the day the bed must be sold.
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