Great expectations

Becoming strangely aquainted

There are numerous ways of ensuring your guest have a good time. One of the mistakes you could make, is to try and standardise staff-behaviour too much.
Travel is by all means a sense-making process. Travelers construct te touristic experiences by learning, understanding and feeling the places they have visited.

How strange or astranging is arriving in a hostel full of other cultural influences? Travelers construct a touristic experience by getting to know the places they visit, through interaction, understanding and sensing the embedded culture of a place.

The places they visit and cultures they encounter and experience, are connected to them by “stakeholders”, such as tourists, the government, original inhabitants and minority groups. The touristic experience is mediated through representation by stakeholders or by their being part of the tourism context. Backpackers themselves are certainly stakeholders in the sense that they meet eachother regularly and word of mouth is a big source of information for them.

Check-in

The length oIf the service-encounter at the check-in area can define the service quality in a negative way, if the service is not mediated in a proper way. Short check-in moments can actually be perceived as loose and easy in a nice manner. But not every type of information can be conveyed in that period of time, without giving off all the wrong signals. A longer check- in moment can be really irritating if the check- in desk is too high and there is nowhere for the guest to sit down. It creates a distance between the staffmember and the guest that is hard to correct later. If the check-in moment is short, be careful you only give out information that has a high service level. In Little Havana hostel in Krakow for instance. you were given a long waifer sheet for you to sign with all the restrictions the hostel wants to impose. It would have been better to bring some towels to the room with the waifer discretely tucked away in an envelope.

For backpackers and long time travellers especially, the actual proces of checking in at the desk is not a hugely significant event. However you must realise that the actual act of arriving and leaving at a venue, still holdsa large ritual value. The act of distancing oneself from newly befriended people and the actual physical shift in location when they left home to travel, has been compared to a rite of passage. The mediated environment of homeness in a hostel, can act as a new ‘fire-up’ for the rest of the travel. It is therefore important to make sure their departure is not only noticed but noticebly marked at check-out.

The eventmaker in your hostel can be a powerful mediator, in the right context. They link the tourist to the surrounding strangeness and translates the strangeness into a cultural idiom, that becomes shared and familiar to the visitors. Make sure you give your guests the opportunity to explore. Prefably experiences that are local and experienced through the eyes of the guests.

A tourism experience contains primary and secondary products and services. Although some may be seen as more significant than others, without te smaller or supporting experiences, the peak experience does not happen. If it ails in the supporting experiences, the main or key experience is in danger, no matter how strong the peak experience is.

It is neccesary to identify also the daily routine experiences, experienced by the guest. As guests are continually informed by the world around them, throughout the day he will be continually fed information and new impressions on your hostel; through the media, through other guests and travelers, through leaflets and pictures. It is not possible to deliver a continuous produced “flow”.

Further reading:

The Social Affordances of Flashpacking: Exploring the Mobility Nexus of Travel and Communication

Richards, Greg -Tourism trends: The convergence of culture and tourism

Richards, Greg – Backpacker tourism: the contemporary face of youth tourism