Automation is Key(less)

Jack Bowcott
August 2, 2021
The pandemic changed everything. We changed too.


The great thing about working in youth travel is that we are an industry of friends, not colleagues… I’ve had the pleasure of working in the industry for 16 years, first as a nightclub promoter selling cheap Vodka/Redbull and Kylie Minogue’s back catalogue to otherwise happy backpackers. Then as a publisher, writing and designing guidebooks (a thinly-veiled excuse to keep backpacking)… To what I do now — helping to make hostels smarter & guests happier at Goki.

What those experiences have taught me is that you can’t continue to drink beer like you did in your twenties without becoming decidedly portly AND that we are nothing if not resilient as an industry.

Things look bleak right now — we are in the midst of the worst downturn ever to hit travel — but what we do now & how we plan for the future, will determine how we come out of this and start to unlocktheworld once again.

Where we are at…

The idea for Goki was always to remove the boring stuff from check-in so that staff could forge more meaningful connections with their guests. Right now, however, we are using the app to enable social distancing, so that guests and staff feel safer….

That means hostel staff running things remotely via our Guest Management System, enabling guests to check-in & access their rooms using their phones, no human contact required. Equally, trips down to the reception to extend or ask a question are instead being done via the app.

It’s business as ‘unusual’ and not where we want to be but reassuring that we have been able to help hostels operate in extremely challenging conditions*.

  • Hats-off to the hostel that sent a cheeseburger to a guests room using the app — Goki Eats anyone?

Is there a ‘normal’ to return to?

What does the future look like for hostels? I was set to speak at ITB on future trends in hostelling before I found out (on my way to the airport!) that the conference had been cancelled…

That was just over a month ago but seems much longer. Looking over my keynote, not much has changed, except that the future may need to arrive a little earlier.

When lockdown laws are lifted, things will not return to ‘normal’, not right away anyway… Automation, for example, isn’t just about operational efficiencies any more — it’s just the way things are going to have to be done.

At Goki, we pride ourselves on getting a guest from booking, to opening their room in a completely contactless way… now, however, this isn’t just about saving hostels money — the stakes are much higher.

Covid-19 Deal

Our year started on a real high. Hostelworld invested and we were armed with just over $5m to bring our solution to a wider audience of hostels around the world. Then the pandemic struck and we have all had to go through a period of introspection to develop new strategies for a new world.

A number of large chains and independents are looking to take this period of enforced downturn and optimise for the future. They want Goki to turn their hostel into a SmartHostel and be ready to hit the ground running when we come out on the other side.

But being realistic, rustling up the capital outlay to seize this opportunity is not easy in a time of such economic uncertainty. That’s why we’ve put this deal together to support hostels who want to get up and running with Goki and ease the financial burden for our partners… Here’s the deal:

Hostels will only need to pay 35% upfront for our SmartLocks — the rest can be paid off over 2 years.

We are reducing the price of our locks by 20% right through until the end of July 2020.

Anyone wishing to buy a single lock to hook it up to your PMS and try it out can do so — 50% off.

Next steps…

We are built exclusively for hostels, by hostels… If you have any ideas for features or technology that will make your life easier — let us know & we will build them into your dashboard.

For more info on Goki or if want to book a demo — please head over to our website & fill out your property info.

Stay safe & see you on the other side,

Jack x

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Jack Bowcott