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Dear Partner,

OFT Clears Web Reservations International / HostelBookers.com Limited Merger

As you are aware, Web Reservations International, which operates the award winning websites hostelworld.com, hostels.com and bedandbreakfastworld.com, in April this year announced its intention to merge with HostelBookers.com Limited, which operates the hostelbookers.com and anytrip.com websites. We believe this to be good news for all participants in the budget accommodation sector, whether a hostel, budget hotel, B&B or apartment, as the merger will create a more effective and smarter partner for your business.

Throughout the process we promised to update you on progress, particularly in relation to the regulatory clearance process required to complete the deal. This has now proceeded to the stage at which the UK’s Office of Fair Trading has confirmed that the merger has been cleared and can now move to completion, which should take place by the middle of August.

I express my gratitude to the many of you who were contacted by the OFT and responded to its questions.

As we have already said, and as your responses have overwhelmingly confirmed, this is an exciting development for property owners, for two key reasons:-

Firstly, it will help us improve our service to you and drive increased occupancy of your properties.

We will continue to invest in the individual website brands and the enhanced resources of the combined businesses will also allow us to:

Inject more resources into marketing and services attracting more consumers to the websites and to your properties
Increase investment in technology platforms to improve the efficiency and ease-of-use of our systems and sites, for both property owners and consumers, through all channels including mobile and tablet
Enhance our level of support to you as property owners
Secondly, the merger will help maintain a competitive marketplace for you to attract consumers to your properties.

We want to provide a service that continues to compete head to-head with both the larger and more expensive OTAs like Booking.com and Expedia, who are increasingly active in the budget accommodation space, and the smaller, budget-focussed players in the market. We believe that you will benefit from this merger, which brings scale to an operator focussed on the budget accommodation sector while retaining the personal touch and sector knowledge of a smaller player. We hope you share our enthusiasm for the merger as it will enable us to provide you with an even greater range of services, including enhanced investment in technology, customer service, marketing and property support.

We believe the net result will be more beds filled, on more nights of the year, for more of our property owners.

From an operational point of view, please continue along the lines of business as usual, speaking to your usual contacts and following the same processes and procedures. Rest assured that, going forwards, any changes that may occur will be communicated directly with you at the appropriate time.

We look forward to our continued partnership.

David Smith

COO HostelBookers


Feargal Mooney

CEO WRI

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New Zealand: Rongo Backpackers in Karamea

Dorms. The very word brings some people an intensely happy feeling, a flashback to the glory days of being on the road and in the grip of wanderlust. But for others the idea of sharing a room with so many other slumbering individuals conjures up only dread. They shift angrily through memories of dorms past that filled them with a hate only eclipsed by exorbitant airline credit card charges.

So, why do some people hate dorms when other people couldn’t see their lives without them? Having examined and observed long and hard for the past few years, the Hostelzoo crew can only conclude one thing. Dorm haters are suffering from a serious case of Dorms-Day. The body odours, the snoring, the late night returners, the plastic bag rustlers and, of course, the not so subtle sexy times, there really is a lot that might turn a traveler off dorms.

But lucky for you all Hostelzoo has the answers. We bring you, the three-step plan to beating Dorms-Day when you’re on the road.

1. Nourish the Sleeping You

The Sleeping You a really special dude (or dudette). It’s the personality that you become when you slip off into dreamland, happily ignoring the occasionally harsh realities of the world around you, if only for a few hours. Sleeping You values sleep above all other things, even cheap wine and free backpacker meals. When Sleeping You doesn’t get enough of what it needs, it bursts out into the territory of Awake You, making you angry, incredibly short-tempered and prone to dozing off in public places.

So, when you’re staying in dorms on the road, it is important to nourish the Sleeping You with enough sleep. What this means is probably up to you, but you should definitely see the signs of Sleeping You barging in on Awake You before someone else, especially a stranger, has to point it out to you. If you don’t nourish Sleeping You, Dorms-Day is sure to follow. But how can you possibly nurture this special little guy in the midst of the late night madness of dorms?

Earplugs.

Yes, we said it; this is not a difficult thing. Earplugs are hardly a commodity good, they’re regularly available and can work absolute wonders on the room-rattling snorer in the bunk above you. If you hate earplugs, try falling asleep with a bit of music going in your headphones, and get comfy headphones if you can’t sleep in what you’ve got. This is Sleeping You we’re talking about, not just some cheap lady boy you picked up in some seedy backstreet.

2. Start the Conversation

There’s nothing more awkward than showing up in a hostel while travelling solo. You rock up in the dorm with all of your gear, and there’s a whole heap of faces just staring at you. They might have acknowledged your presence with a quick nod and hello, but what they’re really thinking is: ‘I wonder if this guy snores’ or ‘She better not spread all the stuff in her bag everywhere’. This is a transition period, where nobody is really sure of their place in the grande scheme of the dorm.

So, be the person that starts the conversation. With just a few words outside of empty salutations you can turn the mood of the room. Talk to people about anything you think they might be interested in. About the city you’re in, about the dorm. Literally, travelers will probably talk about anything just to pass the time. Think about what you would want someone to talk to you about, or what would be funny to start a conversation with, and just go with that.

If you don’t, Dorms-Day has a tendency to sneak in with that horrible lonely and occasionally homesick feeling that comes with sleeping in a room with ten people you don’t know in the slightest. It’s not like you’re going to be their best friend in a day, but putting a name to a face can make an entire city seem a little friendlier, and keep Dorms-Day at bay.

3. Go with the flow

Let’s say, just for an example, that you’re in the dorm having one of the best sleeps you’ve had in the past three weeks when you hear the unmistakable sounds of drunkenness. Yep, that’s your top bunk buddy trying very valiantly to pick himself up from where he’s leant in the undoubtedly tossing sea of the floorboards. Wobbling, he shuffles across the room stinking of cheap goon and bad decisions, burps and then makes a go for the top bunk. You just know this is the end of your amazing night of rest.

So, do you get angry and hateful towards the guy? It is his own fault for getting drunk after all, and because of him you’re going to be a sleepless mess tomorrow. Or, do you just let it go? Hostelzoo is a big believer in letting things go. Our little motto when we’re in dorms is to ask ourselves: “Is this still going to be making me angry/sad/annoyed a year from now?” If it isn’t, and all that is going to come out of it is one sleepless night for you and one karmically oversized hangover for your buddy in the top bunk, then why bother? Dorms-Day likes your rage and anger, because it gives it the perfect opening into your brain, where it seeds and sprouts. With little whispered lies it tries to turn you away from dorms, and all the fun and adventure they can bring.

Travelling on the road is an adventure from start to finish. That includes all the places you go, all the things you see and yes, all the places you sleep. You’re not going to get the safe comfort of home when you’re on the road, but in a dorm you are going to get cheap accommodation, good travelling company, and probably a whole lot of crazy stories to tell. We can’t give you all the answers for beating Dorms-Day, but we can tell you this: Dorms-Day is seriously crafty, but not unbeatable. You keep it in check by being aware of all its wily ways, and having a crazy good time backpacking and hostelling. Hardly a difficult task now is it?

HI-Rampart-6 Bed Dorm

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Amsterdam’s first boutique hostel, Cocomama is a brand new hostel right in the heart of Amsterdam. Cocomama guests can check out the big, sun-soaked garden, cook wonderful meals in the equipped kitchen and meet lots of other travellers during hostel organised activities, or just while handing out in the common areas. They even have a hostel cat, named Joop, to keep you company around the hostel.

What could be more interesting for visitors traveling to Amsterdam to stay in a place that was one Amsterdam’s most famous brothel? Cocomama is located within am amazing building, featuring high ceilings, chandeliers, and lots of daylight.

Each room is decorated with different Dutch themes, to really create a true Holland experience. Provided in the rooms guests will find comfortable beds, lockers, power outlets and a shower. But, there isn’t more than that, because the staff at Cocomama really want to see you spending time in the common areas with the other travellers. As well as these lovely rooms, Cocomama has a large garden area where guests can find a little peace from the business of the city.

Cocomama has all sorts of great features that guests would expect from a star-rated hotel, with the personality of a small hostel. Add cleanliness, professionalism and the boutique style of a hotel with the free internet, fully-equipped kitchen, movie corner, informal atmosphere and organised hangouts of a hostel. Cocomama is the perfect place to be in Amsterdam. As well as being centrally located, Cocomama staff have great insider knowledge of the city, and are happy to share this with you at all times. They will go out of their way to make your stay amazing.

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Image from Cocomama website

Cocomama is one of the many Hostels in Amsterdam available our hostel comparison website Hostelzoo.

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Khao San Road at night

For backpackers all over the world, Asia is the Promised Land. It is the land of the $1 meal, where nobody ever goes hungry. It is the land of the 50c beer, where nobody ever has to forgo a night of fun. And most importantly, it is the land of cheap accommodation, where backpackers can afford to stay and explore all that these wonderful Asian countries have to offer. From the temples at Ankor Wat, to the beaches in Thailand and the oceans of Indonesia, Asia has something for everyone.

Here at Hostelzoo, we’re in agreement that of all our favourite places in the world, well over half are within Asia. We love Asia, for all of its perfections, as well as all its little flaws. Now, as you’ve probably realized by now, one other thing that Hostelzoo is seriously in love with is hostels. They’re our life. We live and breathe hostels, hostel living and the glorious ups and downs that come with them. But Asia isn’t really the land of hostels. Sure, they exist there, but backpackers stay in hostels in Western countries because they’re cheaper, but in Asia the opposite is sometimes the case. While in places like Australia budget accommodation options jump from hostels to motels and hotels, in Asia there are a whole lot of other options in the middle ground.

Consider the guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, homestays, losmen and all the other super cheap options that populate the landscape of Asia. In some countries, these places go for $5-7 a night, and while a dorm bed is usually around the same, it certainly isn’t a private room. So why would you stay in hostels in Asia when there are so many other options? Is it better to choose hostels over guesthouses, or the other way around? Or, are both preferable in their own way?

Well, it pays to think about what you want to get out of your travels in Asia, and what kind of a traveler you are. If you’re the type who can walk into a room and instantly become everyone’s best friend, confidant and go-to guy (or gal) then you’re probably set. You can’t deny that a big piece of the decision to stay in hostels or not is the social aspect. Hostels are social places, and they allow a relatively safe place (often in an unfamiliar area) where you can meet like-minded people. Hostels attract backpackers, and backpackers are attracted to hostels. This just makes the social part of backpacking super easy, because the hostel you stay in is definitely going to be filled with backpacker types, possible future travel buddies, or generally travel focused people.

Obviously, the same cannot be said about guesthouses. Unless you’re staying in a guesthouse in the middle of a popular backpacker area, there could be anyone staying there. Now, this shouldn’t necessarily considered to be a bad thing. With no offence meant to any of the amazing backpackers we’ve met over the courses of our lives, there are other types of people in the world. Sometimes it pays to get out of the backpacker sphere for a little while, just to remind yourself that there’s a whole other reality out there. Of course, you could show up at a guesthouse and find that there’s a great group of other backpackers staying there as well, so who can say for sure?

What we’ve noticed that more independent travelers will often choose guesthouses over hostels, while people just starting on their travels will be more comfortable in the familiarity of hostels. Both styles of travelling are equally valid, and we don’t think there’s any need to force people into boxes based on whether they prefer hostels to other budget accommodation. But, here’s something we’ve noticed in our travels through Asia:

Guesthouses can be hard to find online.

Let’s say you’re arriving into Bangkok at 10pm and you need somewhere to stay for the night. Do you want to be pulling into Khao San Road and looking for a bed in the middle of the night? No, you want to rock up somewhere, sleep off your flight and assess the situation in the morning. In an instance like that, it’s wise to make an online booking, just to guarantee you’re not going to have a horrible first night in a new place. But hostels tend to be the big avertisers online, whereas smaller, budget accommodations are easier to find on the ground. It isn’t always the easiest thing to trawl through a google search looking for a half-decent guesthouse in the middle of an unfamiliar city.

Well, we’ve noticed this, so we wanted to make it easier on Hostelzoo.com. Not only do we list hostels all over Asia, we also list budget accommodation options like guesthouses. Pulling information from a number of budget accommodation booking sites, we make sure that you’re getting the best deal for your dollar. After all, just because you’re in a cheap place like Asia, doesn’t mean you want to waste your money. A few expensive nights of accommodation can really translate a long way when you’re travelling in the land of affordability.

So what do you think about the hostel v. guesthouse conundrum when travelling in Asia. Do you have a definite preference or is money your primary concern?

Hmong Night Market

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