hostel conference

HostelSkills #2

Barcelona, Spain.

October, 2016


HOW TO WIN IN SOCIAL MEDIA, by Nicolas Chavanes, Biz Dev&Sales Executive and Stephan Leuenberger, Regional Sales Manager-Europe at Cloudbeds

Speakers’ bios: Nicolas graduated from the INSEEC business school in Bordeaux, where he later acted as a speaker for the Master in Hospitality (Tourism Marketing and Management). He also holds an MBA degree in Marketing and Management.

He has been in the hospitality industry since 2012, working in an OTA Verychic, French travel agency specialised in flash sales for luxury hotels as Senior Product Manager, where he was in charge of driving the development of new partnerships and sourcing new destinations. He then transferred to a hotel software company Availpro, where he held the position of Business Development Manager.

He participated in many trade/tourism shows such as WTM, ITB, and EIBTM. He travelled across European countries and met with hospitality actors.

His previous positions include that of Senior Project Manager EMEA in Teneo Events, a Barcelona-based company dedicated to hosting high-level B2B conferences, seminars, and forums for international executives who wish to better their knowledge by sharing their experiences.

Nicolas is currently working as a Biz Dev & Sales Executive for Cloudbeds, he is helping hoteliers to find the most appropriate tools for their needs in order to optimise their business and in their search for partnership opportunities in the technology sector.

Stephan has been in hostel industry since 2007. He is currently working as a Regional Sales Manager-Europe for Cloudbeds. Stephan’s previous engagements include Business Development & Account Manager at Hostelling International in Brazil where he was responsible for B2B sales and bringing new business partners to the network in order to provide discounts for HI members and attract new quality hostels to the HI network. He was in charge of closing sponsorship deals to fund events and merchandising, served as the contact person between HI Brazil and HI headquarters in London, and gave support to the hostels on back office software MyHostel.

Stephan was also the Senior Account Executive (Brazil office manager) for, during which time he set up Hostelworld’s office in São Paulo and managed the team of sales executives, setting up sales and revenue strategies for the Brazilian market. He travelled through all the regions in Brazil straightening client relationships, providing them with sales and revenue consultancy as well as detailed reports for growth at HW’s website. Stephan was responsible for activating quality new properties on and partner sites, providing training and online support for existing properties; monitoring reviews/availability and pricing issues.

What was discussed:

The benefits of a solid social media presence are endless. Active social networks help you manage your property’s reputation, as well as engage your past, present and future guests. But, what does it actually mean to have a solid social media presence? Does your hostel need to be on every platform? Do you know how to track your progress? Social media is deceptively easy. Find out how to make a solid social media foundation that you can use to grow your brand. Learn how to choose the right platforms, produce engaging content, set up a posting schedule and measure your results. Facebook and Instagram are the social media powerhouse that cannot be stopped. Facebook gives you the opportunity to interact with potential guests on an emotional level that both excites them and you. Inspire them with your travel-related content, and benefit from it in the process. Instagram and the hospitality industry are a perfect pair. The travel industry has always been visual, and brands have always used images to entice guests. Use it to capitalise on the attention of its young, highly engaged audience.


Speaker’s bio: Laura graduated from UPV School in Valencia and holds a bachelor degree in Tourism and Travel Services Management. She specialised in Revenue Management, holding certifications from Oxford Brooks University and HSMAI.

Her passion for travel brought her to live in 5 different countries over the last 10 years. She first fell in love with the hospitality industry in France back in 2007. Since then she has worked in France, Mexico, Italy and the UK, first in different management positions for international hotel chains such as Eurostars Hotels, moving to Revenue Management roles for independent hotel groups such as City & Country Hotels or Niquesa; ranging from 3-star properties to high-end luxury properties.

In 2015 she relocated to Barcelona, where she joined Xotels as Senior Revenue Manager, guiding a team of revenue managers. With a strong revenue management and distribution background, Laura helps independent accommodations to uncover their hidden revenue potential and increase their bottom line by implementing best practices, proven techniques and the latest travel distribution developments.

What was discussed:

The practical scope on the basics and fundamentals of revenue management, showcasing actual examples. Learn about yield techniques and get started. Tips, tricks and best practices from the areas of revenue management challenges, technology, channel mix, KPI’s, benchmarking, pricing and much more.

HOW TO SET YOUR HOSTEL APART, by Brian Gehrisch, Hostel Consultant, Community Manager of

Speaker’s bio: Inspired by travel at an early age, Brian developed an appreciation for languages and meaningful cultural exchanges that have guided him throughout his career. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in both Zoology and Spanish from Miami University, launching into simultaneous work in the travel industry and the preservation of endangered animal species. On a backpacking trip in Scotland Brian discovered his true calling and dedicated his career to the developing field of backpacker hostels.

He began working in hospitality in 2003, studying the hostel industry while also diving into an intense practical training program as a manager for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. He later changed gears to explore Club Med’s all-inclusive model, and then transitioned to his true interest of running independent backpacker hostels. Throughout this time he placed particular emphasis on operations, staff training, and customer service. He has worked in a variety of management roles in hotels, resorts, and hostels across the United States, Mexico, Europe, and the Caribbean.

In 2008 Brian oversaw the construction and management of the Gold Coast Hostel in Lagos, Portugal. The hostel quickly developed a stellar reputation for quality and earned multiple awards as one of the Top 10 Hostels Worldwide. In 2010 he began providing consulting services for hostels across Europe and also began speaking at hostel conferences and events.

The same year he joined the management team at Transylvania Hostel in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, which went on to receive numerous distinctions including four awards for the Best Hostel in Romania for the years of 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2011 Brian also joined the team at, transitioning from a contributing member to the Community Manager. In this role, Brian regularly consults and advises current and future hostel owners around the world. He also facilitates the Hostel Management Unconferences, which are intensive educational networking events for hostel operators where knowledge and experiences are shared in a constructive setting.

What was discussed:

Competition is always tough, and it can be difficult to distinguish your hostel from others. Competing with prices or commission levels just costs you money. So how do you set your hostel apart from the rest without risking a price war? The real distinction comes from highlighting those special features that make your hostel amazing. We’ll take a practical look at how you can distinguish your hostel and stand out in the crowd to attract more of the guests you want.

INNOVATION THROUGH IMITATION, by David Uribe Gosselin, traveller, linguist, entrepreneur, avid photographer, sailor, archer, and martial artist

Speaker’s bio: David unintentionally started his career in the hostel industry in Quebec at the early age of 22 before ever embarking on a backpacking trip of his own. He quickly and ambitiously moved up the ranks and within months, he had started his own project in Cancun, Mexico.

A few short years later, he attended his first international conference in 2011 and has since become a permanent fixture in the hostel Industry, actively participating in online discussions and attending over a dozen hostel conferences around the world.

From the beginning, Hostel Ka’beh’s innovative practices have consistently kept it as one of the region’s top hostels, and its unique vision for a hostel experience continues to guide its success.

After seven years of managing Hostel Ka’beh, travelling to 25 countries, and staying at or visiting over 100 Hostels, David’s experience in the industry is currently being put to good use growing the Hostel Ka’beh Brand through expansion, consulting, and speaking.

What was discussed:

Hostels are one of the newest ‘analogue’ industries in the world. The novelty of Hostels means that Hostel Owners may sometimes need to look outside their own industry for inspiration. Naturally, Hostels are frequently compared to the age-old business of Hotels; but should Hostel Owners really be looking to model their businesses after them? Other industries are full of Ideas and Solutions that may benefit the Hostel Industry at large. Find out how certain notable companies have employed interesting business strategies that have aided in their success and ultimately, how these may be relevant to the hard-working Hostel Owner.


Speaker’s bio: Marina graduated from the SENAC in Sao Paolo with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality in 2009 and got her post-graduate degree in Business Administration from the Fundação Getulio Vargas. She also holds a certification in entrepreneurship and management at Saint Paul Business School.

She has been in the hospitality industry since 2008 and since then has worked in hotels, hostels and as press officer representing Dorchester Collection and Clinique La Prairie in Brazil.

Marina co-founded and serves as the CFO for the Anhembi Hostel since 2013, which is currently ranked the #1 hostel in Sao Paolo on TripAdvisor.

In 2015 Marina founded the consulting company Invité Consultoria and had been working in hostels projects around Brasil. The company is dedicated to providing consulting services to small and medium lodging facilities such as hotels, hostels, and small hotels in order to help them gain competitiveness. It also provides advice to entrepreneurs who want to open their own hostels.

Marina has over eight years experience in hospitality, with special emphasis on hostels operation, HR, and customer relations. She is a lecturer in the Technical Course of Hospitality and Reception at House Mill, and she was teaching a receptionist course in Lodging means (Pronatec) at Senac São Paulo.

What was discussed:

Are you tired of the operation? Everything that you imagined about having your own hostel isn’t your reality now? Problems with your staff? High turnover? Learn the tips&tricks that will help you achieve better quality of life by organising your time. Set your goals, and don’t forget that if you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.

LEVERAGING TRAVEL LIFECYCLE, by Christina Argyrou, Partnerships Manager at WelcomePickups

Speaker’s bio: Christina holds a Bachelor in International Relations, a Master in Hospitality Management and an MBA and specialises in e-commerce, revenue management, strategic partnerships and new markets penetration.

She has been in the travel industry since 2001 and since then has worked in Greece and UK for leading local and international companies such as HotelBrain, Hilton, Expedia.

Her current position is Partnerships Manager at WelcomePickups, a travel company that offers the most friendly and informative pickups, in-destination travel necessities and access to local advice and knowledge during a trip.

Christina’s extensive working experience with a record of successes in luxury hotel brands, international hotel chains, and international corporate offices, includes the position of Area Manager for Greece&Cyprus at Expedia, where she also worked as a Market Manager and Revenue Specialist.

Before that, she worked for Hilton, first as Trainee Food and Beverage Manager and then got promoted to Assistant Food and Beverage Manager. Her early career steps were in luxury hotels in Santorini island where she specialised in Guest Relations and Reservations.

What was discussed:

Travelling has evolved and is no longer the linear process of plan and book. It starts with a dream and goes way beyond the actual travel stage. And that applies both to the traveller and the hotelier. How do travellers book? Why do they select a specific property to stay at? How to offer an upgraded pre-arrival experience? How does the mobile travel landscape affect travellers and hoteliers? Why is sharing so important?

INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEERING: MAKE IT REALLY WORK FOR YOU, by Mateusz Sznir, Founder and CEO at HostelSystem & FrontDesk Master

Speaker’s bio: Mateusz holds a Master degree in Law, however, since early years, Mateusz has been passionate about travelling and sailing. His life pivoted into tourism after 2002 when he took a year off from university and spent over a year on a 13-meter long sailing boat. Together with seven friends, he organised an expedition from Europe, around South America, Cape Horn – sailor’s Everest, to Antarctica. On the way back Mateusz stayed in Rio de Janeiro where he worked for a few months in a hostel.

After returning to Poland and just before graduating from a Law school in 2006, Mateusz opened his first hostel in Cracow – Good Bye Lenin. In next few years, he opened and managed four other hostels under the same brand. In 2011, he co-founded HostelSystem, the company which offers HostelSystem (desktop software) and FrontDesk Master (cloud application). Both comprehensive and powerful Property Management Systems with integrated Channel Manager created to help hostel managers to run their properties.

In 2012, Mateusz decided to move to Montreal, from where he currently runs HostelSystem Ltd.

What was discussed:

Are the volunteers an asset for the organisation? How long does the volunteer must be involved to be helpful? The possible roles in the hostel for a volunteer. Volunteer compensation. How to search for volunteers?


Speaker’s bio: Katie graduated university with a Bachelors in Psychology, with the intent to continue working in the field of business psychology. Before going on to take a masters degree she wanted to learn to surf, and ended up on her first solo hostelling trip in Portugal. After falling in love with the hostel life there, she moved to Budapest to work as a receptionist and pub crawl leader, where she began writing a blog about her experiences as a hostel worker. soon became a popular platform and Katie’s full-time project, long after leaving Budapest.

She has now spent the past few years working in and for hostels across Europe and Morocco to aid with their social media marketing and blogger outreach. During this time she has also made thousands of beds, learnt to cook Thanksgiving Dinner in a hostel kitchen, discovered a fool-proof method of ignoring any sounds of “Wonderwall” played on the guitar, and completely forgot about becoming a business psychologist.

As a blogger, she has been named as a top travel blogger to follow on Snapchat by Elite Daily and Forbes and received over 8,700 combined views on hostel review videos on Youtube. The blog itself receives over 27,000 page views monthly, with over 2,400 page views specifically on hostel review posts, and engaged followers on social media currently exceed 20,000.

What was discussed:

Video market your hostel for FREE so you don’t have to pay bloggers to do it. Video marketing for the busy hostel owner: Increase your bookings by 67% within one hour. A demonstrative talk on just how easy and quickly you can create videos to use on social media and why it’s so important.

ONLINE REPUTATION: USE REVIEWS TO BOOST DIRECT BOOKINGS, by Alexis Dobbelaere, Chief Sales Officer at Customer Alliance

Speaker’s bio: Alexis was born in Belgium, and after entering the hospitality industry in 1995, he has lived and worked in Central America, Colombia, the UK and Germany.

He studied at Institut Superieur de Gestion Hotelliere.

He is a seasoned hospitality expert, previously Senior Vice President for Global Sales at Pegasus Solutions, Director Revenue Management and Distribution at Design Hotels and Director Revenue Management Europe at Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts.

Alexis has a background in online distribution, driving demand for hotels from GDS to OTAs and metasearch channels. He possesses a deep understanding of the challenges faced by distribution, such as the complexity involved in managing interconnected environments where the interface between supply and demand are key to securing the best flow of ARI (availability, rates, inventory) across all channels.

With extensive strategic revenue knowledge, he is an expert in maximising both occupancy and rates based on historical and future market trends. He’s adept at dealing with both under-performing and growing markets.

What was discussed:

In the world where everyone’s a critic, where businesses live or die by a star rating or an online review, controlling your online reputation must be a strategic priority. Get to know what exactly reputation management means in a digital context and why it’s so important to modern business, especially within the hospitality industry, where a staggering 93% of consumers consider online reviews vital in the decision to book (or not) with a specific provider. Find out about the ways in which good reputation management impacts the online visibility of your business, how it drives traffic to your website and how it can increase direct bookings.

HOSTEL DISTRIBUTION TRENDS – A STAY WYSE RESEARCH UPDATE, by Alexandra Schmid, accommodation Industry Specialist at WYSE Travel Confederation

Speaker’s bio: Alexandra quickly discovered her wanderlust gene and moved from the Black Forest, Germany, to London after finishing high school.

During her studies in Munich, Germany, she worked at the very busy reception desk (especially during Oktoberfest) of a Wombats City Hostel for more than five years and got very familiar with the youth travel industry. At the same time, she continued to travel around the world and studied a year abroad at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Alongside her work in the hostel, she was as a freelance journalist for a Bavarian newspaper, completed an internship at the German Green Party and worked in the external communication department of BMW and Telefónica O2 Germany.

After graduating from the Ludwig-Maximillian University of Munich with a Master in Political Science, Alexandra became a university lecturer and research fellow for European Politics at a Bavarian university.

In 2015, she decided to move to her most favourite city Amsterdam and started working for WYSE Travel Confederation.

What was discussed:


In the world where everyone’s a critic, where businesses live or die by a star rating or an online review, controlling your online reputation must be a strategic priority. Get to know what exactly reputation management means in a digital context and why it’s so important to modern business, especially within the hospitality industry, where a staggering 93% of consumers consider online reviews vital in the decision to book (or not) with a specific provider. Find out about the ways in which good reputation management impacts the online visibility of your business, how it drives traffic to your website and how it can increase direct bookings.


Moderator: Brian Gehrisch, internationally recognized hostel consultant, the Community Manager of, and a regular speaker at hostel industry events



  • David Uribe Gosselin, traveler, linguist, entrepreneur, avid photographer, sailor, archer, and martial artist
  • Daniel Beaumont, Founder at Podstel&The Zen Nomad
  • Samra Comor, Adventurer, entrepreneur, traveler, graphic and web designer
  • Lyuba Sorokina, Owner at Soul Kitchen
  • Marton Palinkas, Works in hostel industry for 10 years


  • Attracting the right guests
  • Enhancing the hostel experience
  • The 21st-century travellers and what they want from hostels
  • The future of hostelling
  • Find and work with partners



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Why Hostels are No Longer the Little Guys
HostelSkills Conference BCN
13-14 October 2016
Tickets available until October 6!