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Envoy Hostel Yerevan
INFOHOSTELS.COM HOSTEL OWNER QUESTIONNAIRE:
Hostel Name: Envoy Hostel Yerevan
Your Name: Erik Carapetian, owner
A Brief Description of your hostel:
Focused on delivering excellence in budget accommodation, Envoy Hostel Yerevan was opened in September of 2005. Designed by travelers for travelers, with a focus on comfort and convenience, the hostel was the first one not only in Yerevan but also in the entire Caucasus region.
Envoy Hostel is located in the heart of Yerevan, just a few steps away from main pubs, cafes and city sights. Throughout these 10 years Envoy proudly offers all types of facilities one would like to have while traveling, including: laundry service, free breakfast, kitchen facilities, free Wi-Fi, free walking tour of Yerevan and what's more important, all of these are provided by super friendly team members of ours. Besides offering clean and comfortable rooms (both dorm and private), the hostel has its own designed tours to show the major sights of Armenia.
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 opened our first hostel in 2005. We started with 9 rooms /42 beds and currently we have 13 rooms/52 beds. Opening the first hostel in Caucasus region was indeed challenging and took us almost a year to set it up. Once it was set up, we prepared ourselves to face other challenges knowing that things don't get easier from the beginning. Looking back through these years we see that we only grow by facing challenges.
2. What exactly inspired you to open a hostel?
My wife Annie and I, have always loved traveling and wherever we would go we preferred staying in hostels. Once we backpacked around Europe & Russia for 3 months in 2000 and it was in Prague where we had a conversation about setting up our own backpacker place with all the conveniences we would love to have as travelers ourselves. 3 years later I traveled to Armenia from Sydney as part of the Pan Armenian games and I realized that there were no hostels in Armenia. I took the idea with me back to Sydney and returned to Armenia in September 2004 with family to see how things would work out. We ended up finding an appropriate property and from there it was the 30th of September 2005 when our first guests got checked in.
3. What it feels like to manage a hostel?
It is definitely not an easy job to do, especially for us managing remotely from Sydney (as we live there). I must mention that we've been blessed with our fantastic team members since the day we were opened. It is them who help our guests have unforgettable days in Armenia and we support and guide them from afar.
4. How many hostels were in your city when you opened yours?
Envoy Hostel was the first hostel not only in Armenia, but also in the entire Caucasus region back in 2005. We were the only hostel in Yerevan until 2008 and at present there are over 30 hostels operating in Yerevan.
5. Is your hostel a part of a chain or private?
We are private, however we are growing. Our second hostel was opened in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2012 and 2 years later we opened another one in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Hopefully, there will be more hostels in future.
6. Have you stayed in a hostel before opening yours?
Yes, of course. We love staying in hostels as you meet like minded travelers and learn from their experiences. Even today we stay in hostels while traveling with our children. I believe that one cannot open up a successful hostel without having stayed in a hostel before.
7. Are you still satisfied with your decision to open a hostel or you are having some doubts whether it was the right choice?
Opening a hostel has definitely been a great decision, as the rewards have been much more than the challenges faced throughout these years. Of course, this is not a big money-making business and it is not about it at all. Our aim is to create memorable experiences for our guests and also to create opportunities for employment for locals both through the Hostel and Tours.
8. What's the average type of customers you have in the hostel today?
Typically our guests are well travelled people, with a thirst for adventure and a genuine desire to learn about new cultures. We have a diverse range of guests from different nationalities and age groups (even at times from 4 month old babies to 89 years old grandparents). Our doors have always been open to all.
9. Has your hostel also private rooms or it's just dorms?
We have both dorms, private and ensuite rooms. Dorms are for 4/8 people and the privates are twin/double rooms.
10. Does your hostel offer any extra activities? What makes your hostel outstanding or better compare to others?
We offer free Yerevan city walking tours as well as a wide range of day and overnight tours. Also, having a spacious common room allows us to organize various events for our guests, for example: Armenian dance nights, game nights, live streaming of football games, guitar playing nights and a lot more to help our guests experience the culture and to get to know other travelers as well.
11. If you would have unlimited amount of money, where would you invest it in, to make growing your current one?
I'd make the hostel even more comfortable for our guests. I'd also like to reward our team members more.
12. How do you see your hostel's future and future of the hostels in general?
I think there will always be demand for hostels as they are becoming more and more comfortable nowadays. As for our hostel, I believe that Envoy will continue its journey with a focus on continuous improvement.
13. How the hostels have changed in the past years?
Across Europe, some giant hostels have been opening up with capacities to accommodate several hundreds of people. This is understandable in terms of economies of scale and the growing demand of travelers choosing to stay in hostels rather than hotels. However the intimacy of the smaller hostel atmosphere diminishes. Also there has been more emphasis on aesthetics with the average age of the "hosteler" increasing; there is more demand in comfort. Hence terminologies, such as flashpacker and glampacker, have evolved. In our region, majority of the hostels are more basic and akin to homestays. The concept of Hostel is still in infancy in Armenia and most are still learning about what a Hostel is about. For instance most other Hostels have a small common room or don't have one at all as all the space is used to fit beds. Some don't offer 24 hour reception service; hence help is not at hand to guests in a consistent manner.
14. How does the hostel influence the local area?
We aim for excellence. We train our team members accordingly. These are life skills transferred to them to keep forever. Also, over the past 10 years our neighborhood has changed, more cafes and pubs have opened up, realizing the needs of tourists for complimentary services. This has all been a positive influence on our local area.
15. What's your advice to the future hostels?
Firstly don't open up a hostel if it's just for money-making reasons.
Always try to improve yourself.
Never think that your hostel is the best.
Treat your guests with respect.
Make sure to have good staff, as there's a lot depending on the team members.
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