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Welcome to our newest member – Stayokay

Nov 29, 2018

Interview with Viola Mellema, Manager Sales

Tell us your story. How did Stayokay get started?

Stayokay was founded in 1929 as the Nederlandse Jeugdherberg Centrale (NJHC) [Dutch Youth Hostel Association]. In 2003, NJHC was renamed Stayokay. The first NJHC hostel was located in “Ouderkerk aan de Amstel” in a converted watermill.

The NJHC grew rapidly becoming a large organisation with almost seventy small buildings throughout the country. Renamed Stayokay, the present-day association now has 22 hostels in the Netherlands. Sustainable enterprising is known territory; it is intertwined in our organisation and is visible in all our hostels.

Also, for almost 90 years, Stayokay has offered its local and international guests the ideal starting point for new and valuable experiences. Stayokay offers no unnecessary luxury, but a well-catered stay in informal surroundings. There is also plenty of opportunity to meet other people. Stayokay is affiliated with YHA and Hostelling International; a network of more than 4,000 hostels worldwide.

Stayokay invests heavily in renovation of all hostels, so that the hostels are always up-to-date and meet the needs and wants of today’s travellers.

What makes Stayokay different from your competitors?

Our hostels are situated in three different types of locations and in a variety of special buildings. Guests can stay in a castle, school or even a ‘Pippi Longstocking’ type of house.

Stayokay has been hosting (school) groups and students for 80 years. Its wide range of package deals entails, among other things, special teaching deals that include full board, rooms and educational programmes that include sports, culture and field work. There is always something to do in and around our hostels, which are located in the most beautiful parts of the Netherlands. In addition, Stayokay offers fully-catered experiences: a unique adventure with a strong theme.

What is your favourite success story from your organisation?

With annual overnight stays numbering around 1 million, Stayokay is the largest provider of budget accommodation in the Netherlands!

What can we expect to see from Stayokay in the future?

A long time ago, Stayokay made a conscious commitment to sustainable entrepreneurship – which is beneficial for society and the environment. We strive to become the most sustainable ho(s)tel chain as well as a CO2-neutral organisation in the Netherlands. Stayokay works hard to save energy and water and to reduce waste. Health and wellness are also high on our agenda.

Which trends do you see in educational and active youth travel?

People are looking for those personalised, authentic, off-the-beaten-path experiences. It’s really exciting to see millennials and gen Z travellers investing in that. It’s not so much about the destination anymore: It’s more about what they can do while they’re there, what kind of story they can tell about it and how “Instagrammable” it is.

People really want to experience the country and get a feel for what it’s like as a local. Sustainability is also very top of mind for today’s younger traveller. They don’t want to negatively impact the places that they’re travelling to.

Group tours have really adapted to make sure they see the most of their destination in a limited amount of time. Some of the schools we work with have a specific curriculum-inspired destination in mind. We try to work around that. For example; Rotterdam because of their architectural buildings and of Amsterdam because of it’s history and art.

How do you work to ensure the health and safety of young travellers involved with Stayokay?

Each hostel certified by HI is required to meet HI’s minimum standards and guidelines for quality and procedures in order to be allowed to use the Hostelling International logo as a quality mark. In addition, Stayokay is also ISO 9001/2008 certified, a quality system recognised worldwide for industry and services. An ISO 9001/2008 certificate may be seen as an umbrella quality mark that guarantees the quality and safety in every part of a company. Companies that meet all the ISO 9001/2008 norms have demonstrated that they meet all of the legal requirements and are able to guarantee high quality in their products and services. Having this certificate means that Stayokay also meets the HI Quality label recognised by HI.

Stayokay devotes the greatest possible care to maintaining the accommodations it provides for its guests and exerts the maximum amount of effort in order to offer the highest possible safety standards. Stayokay hostels meet the requirements stipulated by the Buildings Decree of the Netherlands for structures. The buildings are inspected regularly by the local building inspection authorities, a public service department which monitors all buildings designated for accommodation purposes to ensure they meet the requirements laid down in the Buildings Decree with respect to use, (fire) safety and the environment.

All Stayokay hostels meet the European legal requirements relating to food safety, the so-called HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) hygiene code. Verification to determine compliance with this code occurs via inspections carried out by the NVWA (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority), as well as audits conducted twice each year by an external agency.

In order to guarantee the safety of our guests and our staff even further, a structural focus is placed on the ability to respond effectively in the event of an emergency, applying EU regulations and the ARBO law (Occupational Health and Safety laws) as a basis. A company emergency plan has been drawn up for each hostel so that the in-house emergency assistance team is able to fulfill the following duties:

  • Prevention;
  • First aid;
  • Firefighting and preventing and limiting accidents;
  • Issuing alerts and evacuating all guests and employees in the organisation;
  • Alerting and working with the municipal fire brigade and other emergency services organisations if this is necessary for first aid, firefighting and accident prevention and evacuation.

These duties are carried out by the in-house emergency assistance team that has been trained for this purpose, the members of which keep their knowledge up-to-date via annual drills and refresher courses. The company emergency plan is monitored internally on a structural basis to ensure that it remains current. To do this, Stayokay hostels work closely with the municipal fire brigade and other emergency services organisations.

What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?

Just like WYSE Travel Confederation, we believe in the economic and social power of youth, student and educational travel. The youth travel segment of the industry has grown faster than global travel overall, by 2020 the youth travel market is expected to even grow to 60% of the total travel industry!

WYSE Travel Confederation is a platform for Stayokay to gain brand awareness and to grow within the youth and student travel market. Together with the community within WYSE we are delighted to be part of a network, to serve young travellers.

Have you attended a WYSE Travel Confederation event? (World Youth and Student Travel Conference, STAY WYSE, WYSE Exchange Australia, WETM-IAC) If so, what was your experience with the event?

Yes, Stayokay has been involved with trade conferences for some years. It is one of our selling points. Our presence, however, has always been without a membership. We believe and hope to be more successful in our cooperation.

What is an industry challenge your organisation is facing at this time?
  • The increase in capacity among competitors, in particular in Dutch cities, puts pressure on prices and margins.
  • The power of large OTAs, such as Booking.com and Expedia, continues to increase.
  • Tourism in Amsterdam.
  • Group tours versus Individual Travellers.
  • Exploring Holland, rather then only Amsterdam.

Member snapshot

Stayokay is a non-profit organisation that is committed to the community. Sustainable enterprising is known territory; it is intertwined in our organisation and is visible in all our hostels.

Also, for more than 85 years, Stayokay has offered its local and international guests the ideal starting point for new and valuable experiences. Stayokay offers no unnecessary luxury, but a well-catered stay in informal surroundings. There is also plenty of opportunity to meet other people. With annual overnight stays numbering around 1 million, Stayokay is the largest provider of budget accommodation in the Netherlands.

Stayokay is affiliated with Hostelling International; a network of more than 4,000 hostels worldwide. You can find us at 22 locations throughout the Netherlands – in the most surprising spots! The nice thing about these locations is that you will always go home with memories of new adventures, as there’s so much to do in and around the hostels.

Membership: WYSE Travel Confederation Full Member

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