Located in Edinburgh, Scotland, Code Hostel is a new, laid-back property. The folks at Code Hostel are young, hip and ready to have a good time. While they don’t identify as a party hostel, they attract a young crowd ready for a relaxing time. This cheeky hostel features just 30 beds that double as “Pods” with curtains for privacy, a personal shelf, light, and sockets to charge all your devices.
I chatted with Marco, Code Hostel’s operations manager, and got an inside look at what it’s like to stay at Code. Check it out below:
Alex: Tell me a little bit about yourself and Code Hostel.
Marco: I’m Marco from Code Hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland. I am the operations manager, so I basically take care of all the daily business at Code. We are a new hostel with 30 beds. We opened in Edinburgh in September in the heart of New Town.
We have special pod beds, like the Asian capsule hotels. You have your own pod that you can close with your curtain. You have your own shelf, a light, and power socket. I take care of reservations, housekeeping, check-ins and check-outs.
I have been in the hostel business for about four and a half years. I worked 3 years at a hostel in Switzerland and the moved to Edinburgh to work in a different hostel and since moved to Code.
Alex: What types of guests does Code Hostel attract?
Marco: The average guest is around 25 years. We have a lot of Asian, European, and American guests. Asian tourists typically come from China or Korea.
Alex: What type of hostel is Code?
Marco: We are not a party hostel. We are more laid back. People will go out and enjoy a drink, but tend to be more laid back and look out for each other. I like to describe it as a small family, it’s actually quite great.
Alex: For you, what’s the most rewarding part about running a hostel?
Marco: When you see your guests are having a great time. For me, when the guests are here in the common area and I see guests interacting and making new friends, it’s the best. And when they organize nights out together, it’s quite fun.
Alex: What’s your biggest challenge?
Marco: Probably to avoid chaos. It can happen from time to time, there are chaotic situations. The challenge is to make it less stressful in difficult situations, and to have emergency plans in place in the event of a bad situation. But, it’s interesting because at every hostel I have worked at there is always a “this is a new situation” moment for me.
Alex: What Cloudbeds products does Code Hostel use?
Marco: We use all three together and have been a customer since April 2015.
Alex: Has Cloudbeds changed the way you work?
Marco: Yes. Before, we used our own spreadsheet and it took a lot more time because we had to add all the guest information into the spreadsheet. Because Cloudbeds is automatic, it saves a lot of time. Right now we are testing the automatic payment system and it is saving us even more time.
It is mostly about the time saving and it is useful to see all the information in one system. You can look up guest details, send guests emails. We use the mybookings and find that it’s better to have it all one system than multiple platforms.
Alex: Which OTAs do you connect to?
Marco: We are on all the hostel specific ones, HostelWorld and HostelBooking.com and also booking.com, Expedia, Agoda. We use quite a lot of them and I was happy to see that there are many interfaces to the OTAs, especially the hostel specific ones.
Alex: What’s your typical day like?
Marco: I am not only an operations manager, but an all around employee too, so I spend my day doing a lot of things. I probably spend two hours of my day cleaning. I setup the dynamic pricing which takes about 2 hours, including making special packages, etc. I take about an hour dealing with reservations and the rest of the time helping guests, check-ins, check-outs and giving recommendations
Alex: What’s another hotel or hostel in the industry that you admire?
Marco: I stayed in a hostel in Liverpool called Hoax Liverpool. They had an awesome restaurant and bar area downstairs, really nice rooms as well.
I do like the Walrus Hostel in London. Alex that works there is a real cool guy. Downstairs there’s a really comfortable pub and upstairs they have their rooms. Lots of cool people.
I’m quite interested in the new hostel chains that are growing, such as for Generator Hostels, for example. They have hostels all over Europe and are opening new ones every year. They have quite cool designs. I like hostels that have a nice style, especially pop art.
I’m interested in how these hostels chains are growing.
Alex: When you vacation/holiday, where do you like to go?
Marco: My last days off I spent at the Walrus Hotel in London. I do like to go to cities. I like to go discover the cities themselves. I grew up in a small Switzerland town and I find it interesting how big cities work. I do like Italy as well. I could probably spend my next holiday in Italy just for the food.
Alex: Who has inspired you most in your career?
Marco: There have been a lot of people who have inspired me. There were a lot of people when I was in hospitality school in Switzerland. I did an internship in Zurich and met a lot of people who helped me, especially my boss.
My mom and dad have worked in hospitality and restaurants. I learned a lot from them growing up and basically grew into it.
Alex: Oh, so it’s a family business?
Marco: It’s kind of a family business. The first hostel I worked at was my dad’s and that’s how I got into it. It was called JBN.
Alex: If you had a message to aspiring hoteliers, what would it be?
Marco: In the end, it’s all about the people. If you like people, you should never forget that. You can get distracted by all the other things that are happening, all the business things, but don’t forget who it is all about.
Alex: Last question, what are the top things we need to do when we visit Code Hostel?
Marco: We go karaoke at a pub nearby most Sundays! Other top things you should do: explore the city with our secret tips about pubs and bars. Hang out in our common area; it’s fun to even watch us work, we’re quite funny sometimes *chuckles*. You should also do a short-trip to Scotland and visit the highlands.
Alex: Awesome, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today about Code Hostel!
Code Hostel sounds like a great place stay if you ask me! Thank you to Marco for taking the time to be apart of our featured customer series. You check out the photos of their property below and see the link to their website.
Facebook: Code Hostel
Watch the full interview here:
Complete Video Transcript
Interviewer: Okay, great. So, how about we get started by you telling me a little bit about yourself and your role and CODE Hostel.
Marco: I’m Marco from CODE Hostel in Edinburgh. I am the operations manager, so I basically take care of all of the daily business here at CODE. We are quite a new hostel with only 30 beds, so quite small as well. We opened in last September in the heart of Edinburgh actually in the new town and we have those special pod beds. They’re like the Asian capsule hotels basically, so you have your own pod that you can close with a curtain, you have a shelf in there, you have your own light, and you have your own power socket. So, it gives you a bit more privacy basically as well, so it’s like a boutique hostel and yeah, we’re actually quite small with only 31 beds. And yeah, so I take care of all of the daily business basically, whether that is reservations, the housekeeping, check-in, check-out and things like that.
Interviewer: Great. How long have you been in the hostel business?
Marco: I have been in the hostel business. Good question. That is four, probably around four and a half years now.
Marco: I worked for three years in a hostel in Switzerland before. Then I switched and came over to Edinburgh, worked in a different hostel first because CODE only opened since September, and now in Edinburgh since May last year, exactly.
Marco: It should be around four and a half years that I’m in the hostel business.
Interviewer: Very nice. So what types of guests does CODE Hostel attract?
Marco: CODE Hostel has guests, usually I’d say the age is around, the average age is around 25 years. We have a lot of Asian guests on the one hand then on the others we have a lot of Australia guests as well, and a lot of American guests. I guess this would be like the main part of which regions they are. From the Asian guests we have a lot of Chinese guests, a lot of South Korean guests as well.
Interviewer: Very nice.
Interviewer: So, some hostels will self-identify themselves as like an adventure hostel or something along those lines. Do you guys have a category?
Marco: Not really. I would see ourselves not really as a party hostel. We are actually quite laid back, so people they are going out but maybe they’re enjoying themselves so they’re like maybe prefer to go to one place and have some drinks, some quiet drinks, or we’re not really, we don’t have daily pub crawls or something like that. People are quite relaxed here and quite laid back and take care of each other, so it’s maybe more of like a small hostel where you can get in touch with others quite quickly, because you know everyone. It feels like a small family actually. It’s quite a familiar atmosphere.
Interviewer: Great. And how many people work there?
Marco: There is only three people working here. So we’re quite a small team as well. We have two people, that’s including myself, working there full-time and we have one live-in person as well.
Interviewer: Cool. So for you, what’s the most rewarding part about running a hostel?
Marco: The most rewarding part is when you see that your guests are having a great time. Like, for me, that is when they are here we have like a common area here downstairs when they’re sitting there, they’re all talking to each other, they’re all making new friends, but they’ve never met each other before, but they’re like joining together and having a laugh and talk about stuff. That’s the most rewarding part actually. That’s also where it’s the most fun to see that and they can start to like organize things as well like if you have loads of people who just made friends, you can start organizing maybe a night out, popcorn or something. Those times are actually fun.
Marco: [inaudible 00:04:52]
Interviewer: So, what’s your biggest challenge?
Marco: The biggest challenge? The biggest challenge is probably to avoid chaos. It kind of like can happen from time to time that there’s like chaotic situations and then it’s quite a big challenge, but chaos can always happen I guess. It can’t be avoided. But the big challenge is actually to make it less stressful in case something happens so you have like emergency plans for how to deal with certain situations that just pop up. That’s also quite interesting for me because I’ve worked in hostels now for over four years and there’s always things happening that I haven’t had yet, like situations that I’m like, “Oh, this is new.” I didn’t have that before, so you always got to come up with a solution quite fast and like if bad things are happen to make it like all right again for the other guests or whatever happened and I think that’s the biggest challenge in my opinion.
Interviewer: Nice. So, what pieces of the Cloudbeds software does CODE Hostel use?
Marco: I think we use all of them. We do use the front desk thing, then we use the online booking engine and we use Myallocator as well.
Interviewer: Great. That’s what I like to hear.
Marco: Yeah, and it’s all working quite smoothly together actually and that’s really cool.
Interviewer: Awesome. How long have you guys been a customer?
Marco: We’ve been a customer now since I think around April, yeah, we switched.
Interviewer: Okay. Very nice. So, has Cloudbeds changed the way you guys do your daily work? Is significantly different than what you used before?
Marco: Definitely. Yeah. Before we worked with our own kind of spreadsheet thing and that just was a lot more work actually because we had to write all of the guest details in that spreadsheet. That all happens automatically now when there’s a reservation coming in, it just imports it from the OTAs into the system. That saves us a lot of time. Also, we’re right now testing. like working with a new feature that’s the automated payments. You usually take the payments from our guests seven days ahead and before we had to enter everything manually. Right now, it also imports credit card details. It can have one-click on process payment basically in the guest details and then it takes the payment automatically. So, that saves us a lot of time as well. It’s mostly about the time saving and then also it’s useful to just see, have details from the guests in one system. You can use them for certain things. You can look up guest details. You can send out emails to the guests. The booking engine, the online booking engine, we use that for our website. We had a different one before but that’s always good to have. Like a nice, creative booking engine where a lot of people basically book through your website because then you can avoid paying commissions to the OTAs of course.
Interviewer: Right. Awesome. Do you guys connect all the OTAs, or do you have like a specific few that you use?
Marco: Not to all of them. We are on quite a lot of them. All of the hostel specific ones that’s Hostelworld, Hostelbooker, Hostelsclub and we’re on Booking.com as well, which is one of the biggest ones for us. Expedia as well, Agoda as well. We use quite a lot of them actually and I was quite happy to see that there’s a lot of those interfaces to the OTAs available, especially to hostels [inaudible 00:09:46] and not just to hotel specific OTAs. That part is nice as well.
Marco: We like to be on the hostel specific ones as well.
Interviewer: Awesome. So, in terms of your day and how you work, what’s your typical day like? Like, how much time do you spend time managing the hostel and managing bookings and dealing with customers, managing staff, etc.?
Marco: I do spend kind of like besides me being an operations manager, I’m also like mostly an all-arounder because I do daily business as well.
Marco: I help with the cleaning as well. Although the cleaning is probably around two hours a day, so that’s not too much. Besides of that, it’s including myself I do a lot of like set up things. I take care of the pricing as well, because we have a dynamic pricing that at the moment I am changing the prices regarding to availability. It works quite well as well in the software because you can change the prices daily. So, I guess usually I’ll spend around one to two hours just organizing those things, taking care of pricing and of the changing things or setting up like a special package or special deals or something like that. Then maybe about an hour taking care of the reservations and then the rest of the time would be helping out the guests, doing check-ins, get them their accommodations and things like that.
Interviewer: Great. Awesome. So, what’s another hostel or hotel in the industry that you admire?
Marco: That I admire? Well, I stayed in one hostel in Liverpool. I’m not sure what it was called again. Hoax Hostel, Hoax Liverpool. I really enjoyed it there. They had an awesome restaurant/bar area downstairs. Really nice rooms as well. Then I do like the Walrus Hostel in London. Alex that works there, he’s a really cool guy and the downstairs there’s a really nice comfortable pub and upstairs there’s the rooms. There’s a lot of really nice people there and I’m quite interested in the hostel, the new hostel chains that are growing. For example, Generator Hostels.
Interviewer: What was the name of that one?
Marco: Generator Hostels.
Marco: They have hostels all over Europe. Meanwhile, they’re opening new ones almost every year. They’re quite cool design as well. I like the hostels that actually have kind of a nice style or like a kind of pop art design.
Marco: I like hotels that are in those areas as well. So, that’s what I’m interested mostly in.
Marco: I’m quite interested in also how they how those chains actually grow, how they’re opening more and more hostels all over Europe. It is quite interesting to see.
Interviewer: Yeah. It seems like the hostel environment is growing a lot, very fast lately.
Interviewer: Nice. So, when you vacation where do you like to go?
Marco: Good question. I haven’t had one of those in a while. The last days off I had I spent in London, actually at the Walrus Hostel.
Marco: I do like to go to mostly, it has been mostly cities actually in the past years. I did city trips and discovered the cities themselves. That’s just myself. I grew up, like I’m from Switzerland originally. I grew up in quite a small town, so it’s pretty fascinating to me how a big city works and the things to discover and things like that.
Marco: So, I did mostly city trips. I do like Italy actually as well. I could probably spend my next holiday in Italy just because of the food.
Interviewer: Totally agree with that one. So, is there anyone who inspired you in your career to get you involved in hostels?
Marco: There wasn’t really anyone that inspired me to get into hostels specifically. There have been a lot of people that inspired me. I did hospitality business in hospitality school in Switzerland first, and I did an internship during that study basically for one year in Zurich that helped me a lot. I met some really nice people there in the company I worked. I learned a lot of one guy that was working [inaudible 00:15:55] department there, so the guy that was my boss there inspired me. And also my dad and my mom have both been working in hospitality before, well hospitality and restaurants. So, I got caught up a lot from them anyway when I was growing up.
Marco: I kind of just grew into it.
Interviewer: Great. So, it’s a family business now?
Marco: Yeah, it’s kind of a family business. Well, not right now, but here in Scotland but that’s also family business, but I’m not related to that family. And the first hostel I worked for three years that was actually my dad started it basically.
Interviewer: Oh, nice.
Marco: That’s how I got into it as well.
Interviewer: Okay. What was the name of that one?
Marco: That was Hostel JBN.
Interviewer: Cool. J-B-N?
Marco: JBN, yeah.
Interviewer: Great. Awesome. Just a couple more questions. So, if you had a message to aspiring hoteliers or hostel operations or whomever, what would it be?
Marco: A message? Well, in the end it’s all about the people. I think it’s all about the guests and you should not forget to like, if you like people in general, it’s always good. And you shouldn’t forget to do that because in the end what counts is that the guest is happy and you should basically do most of the things to make that happen, as many thing as possible, obviously. So you can get distracted by all of the other stuff that is happening, all of the organizing things and all of the business things, but if you take it back in the end it’s always about the guests and providing a nice stay and a good time, so don’t forget about that.
Interviewer: Right. Perfect. And then last question, what are the top things that we need to do when we visit CODE Hostel?
Marco: The top things we need to do when we visit?
Interviewer: Like as a guest. Sorry. As a guest. As a guest, what are the top things that we need to do when we visit CODE Hostel?
Marco: You should actually join us on Sundays because we usually go to karaoke in the park nearby. That’s always good fun. We had some really good nights there. That’s usually on Sundays. Other top things you should do is, if you visit CODE Hostel, in general, well explore the city. Ask us for recommendations. We have some nice secret tips maybe in terms of pubs and bars. Stick around at the communal area a bit. That’s always good fun, even if you’re just watching us work. We’re quite funny sometimes. Besides that, maybe do like a short trip through Scotland in terms of like a bus tour or something. It’s always really nice to do, into the highlands as well. Yeah, so those would be the top things you should do when you visit us.
Interviewer: Sounds great. I need to hop over to CODE Hostel it sounds like. Awesome.
Marco: It is quite a bit fun place. We’re having quite a lot of fun actually. It’s a cool kind of place. Also, I like it because it’s quite small so you get to know everyone that stays. You see everyone several times. If it would be like 150 beds or 200 beds, you meet some people but you can’t really get to know anyone.
Marco: Because it’s only like 31 beds, you get to know everyone. That’s pretty cool. It gives the familiar atmosphere actually.
Interviewer: Great. Awesome. Well, I really appreciate it and sorry, so sorry that I was late.
Marco: All right, no worries. No problem. I got really confused. I was like, “I told him Greenwich Mean Time and then I Googled it and it said in Greenwich Mean Time it’s New York clock and I was like, “What? Oh, daylight savings”, I didn’t think about that.
Interviewer: Yeah, I like…
Marco: [inaudible 00:20:45] I’m just going to [inaudible 00:20:46].
Interviewer: Yeah, before I left the office yesterday I even checked. I Googled it to make sure, so, oh well. It happens.
Marco: It worked out anyways.
Interviewer: It worked out. Awesome. Well, I really appreciate it and we’ll probably have this written up and on the blog by the end of the week, so I will shoot it to you then.
Marco: That’s great. You can just send it to me [inaudible 00:21:08].
Interviewer: Great. And if you guys have any pictures that you want me to include, feel free to email them to me, or I can just take them off your website.
Marco: Cool. That would be great. I must just send you some pictures, not sure if I still have time today, but probably could do tomorrow.
Interviewer: Great. Sounds good. Awesome.
Marco: Perfect. Thanks very much.
Interviewer: Thank you. Have a great rest of your day.
Marco: Have a good day.