Hostel Ideas: Successfully encourage your customers to donate

Lior SlepkovHostel Ideas, News, Operations

Hostel Ideas Beds and Bars recently visited Amsterdam for the STAY WYSE conference and had the pleasure of staying in Flying Pig Downtown (Amsterdam’s member of Europe’s Famous Hostels). Aside from a great time with cool staff and crazy guests, we picked up a new hostel idea in order to successfully raise money for charity from guests.

The theory is nothing new.  We’ve all been faced with a cashier or even an online check-out that asks us if we would like to donate a small suggested amount to a charity of their choice.  Although many customers do this happily (or simply to avoid the shame of saying “NO, I do not want to give people in need my money”), many also reject the proposal to add to their bill in order to help a good cause.  What took the practice to a new level at The Flying Pig was that they already had your money!

You see, when we checked in (somewhat tipsy from the STAY WYSE welcome drinks) we had absolutely no issue with giving up a simple Euro as a keycard deposit.  In fact, that was about the lowest deposit we have ever seen (especially at a party hostel!).  Upon check-out we had almost forgotten about the measly Euro when we were asked if we wanted it to be given back or to donate it to charity.

Now going back to the grocery store scenario, when asked to give up more money than what is already being spent it is easy to be turned down. However, when the the Euro is no longer perceived as a loss, but rather as something that is already forgotten, collecting that money is far easier. Furthermore, when guests see this as taking away from charity to buy their morning coffee, the result is outstanding! We sat around for breakfast working a bit while hearing checkout after checkout saying “No” to getting their deposit back.

We don’t need a to do a study to see that this hostel idea was very successful!  However, we did ask Maaike (the General Manager of Flying Pig Downtown) for some info about the donations.

Q – Where do you donate to?
A – At the moment to Team Margot. Team Margot campaigns for more people to join the worldwide registers as potential bone marrow/stem cell donors. But in the past we’ve collected for organizations like Trees for Travel, Build Africa and Just a Drop.

Q – What are your donation results from the Key deposits?
A – Every site of our company collects the key deposit money for Team Margot. Beds and Bars has 20 sites, so this adds up to quite a bit! I think we here at the downtown raise around €250 per week.

Q – Aside from your key deposits, what else do you do to raise money for this or any other charity?
A – We sometimes organise events to raise more money for Team Margot. A yearly company wide event is Live Your Life Day, where our goal is to raise awareness for bone marrow cancer and get more people to be stem cell donors.

Q – Do you communicate the hostel’s charity donations anywhere, and if so, where (OTAs, Web etc)?
A – At the moment I don’t think we do.

Q – What benefits have you seen to doing these charitable donations?
A – Karma points! 😉 It’s nice to be able to help.  Most guests find it a good idea too.

Does your hostel donate to Charity? How do you successfully raise money? Let us know bellow.

About the Author

Lior Slepkov


Lior Slepkov is the Head Hostel Coach and Founder at He has over 20 years experience in business management and supervision, 10 of those years within the hosteling industry having managed and/or consulted for over 30 different hostels. His primary strength is in Operational Excellence stemming from his previous McDonalds management career in Canada.