Family-owned Hostel Uppelink lies in the historical centre of Ghent in Belgium. After a tough pandemic, business is starting to soar again as travel returns to Flanders and the hybrid property is well positioned with its picture postcard views of the three towers of the medieval city and famous St Michael’s bridge.
With a mix of smaller private rooms and bigger more traditional dorms scattered through their iconic thirteenth Century building, Hostel Uppelink is an example of a true hybrid when it comes to its product mix. Even Erasmus of Rotterdam fame once rested his weary limbs here…
We spoke to founder Seppe Vandeweerdt about all the technological changes they have made and their recent RevPAR transformation.
Old school frustrations
“In July 2019 we switched our PMS to Mews as, amongst other things, the ‘Timeline’ view was perfect for a business like ours and most PMS simply don’t offer anything similar. We need to be able to visualise all the different types of products we are selling and Mews lets us do just that.
The Mews Marketplace was another major draw as it works so well and offers loads of awesome connections to other software. Once we made the switch we started looking for an RMS straight away as beforehand we didn’t do any proper revenue management but did everything manually with a grid.
We looked at the Revenue Management options and quickly realised that not all RMS are made equal. For starters, most could not handle a hybrid property with beds and rooms and a mixture of products like ours and couldn’t handle all our data points. Pace Revenue was the RMS that stood out as it could easily handle our complex inventory mix.
We also liked how the pricing algorithm didn’t overly rely on compsets - in my opinion the market moves way too fast to be relying heavily on something like compsets for pricing. Furthermore, a lot of RMS are overly obsessed with pulling in as much data as possible for the sake of it - it’s the quality of the data and not the quantity that matters. Pace really gets that with their focus on primary market demand data.
The platform is also really intuitive. In fact, it’s so easy to use that sometimes I used to get suspicious at how simple it was to navigate around. But then Pace started working so well that I quickly stopped hesitating. Today I’m the main user as the automation means we now don’t need anyone else to get involved in revenue management.
As for the onboarding - I can’t even remember how it all went if I’m honest…which is to say it was good! In just a couple of days it was all done - everything was so easy and effortless!”
“Pace has been the best investment I have made in our property since we opened over 10 years ago and by a distance. I just wish I had started using it sooner! Our RevPAR has gone up 40% since 2019 because of Pace. Our ADR has doubled in the same time.
Pace has taught us a lot and as a result we are now considered the best hostel in Ghent. It taught me that we can put our rates much higher than I thought was possible. For example, this year we sold a bed for EUR 120 while before Pace that was going for EUR 40. So even though I had to build up courage to begin with I’ve learnt to totally trust the automated pricing. We can also go very low in price if we need to without suffering - this year Pace has kept our occupancy above 85-90%, which is getting back to 2019 levels.
Although all the automation has transformed our business, the human support has also been amazing. In particular, Michael Sandeen on the Customer Success team has helped us a lot. For example, he nudged us to get rid of our old two day minimums, particularly over the weekends, and to think about trying to sell everything for one night and as high as possible.
We were concerned bachelor parties from Holland would start to come over but, of course, that never happened. We also thought our Sunday stays would vanish as a result. Now our RevPAR on Saturdays has doubled and our Sundays have never been busier.
Oh and Pace also taught us not to lower our rates for Groups too much and we now ask a higher price knowing that Pace will fill up any holes. The Group rates functionality of Pace has been another massive game changer for us."