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Welcome to our new member – goki
WYSE News | January 21, 2020

Interview with Jack Bowcott, Founder/ CEO

Tell us your story. How did goki get started?
We started as a social network for travellers called Tipi… The idea was that travellers could meet and share tips in new destinations and get real time reviews from real people at places they want visit.
Unfortunately, we struggled to get any real organic growth but learnt 2 very important lessons… 1. The real estate on a traveller’s phone is very valuable. 2. To get on there, you have to be solving a problem travellers have every day.
So, we took check-in – an antiquated, data heavy, frustrating process for travellers and worked out how we could streamline that using technology.
Now with goki, guests can check-in and download their key before they arrive at their hostel… this saves time, allows them to meet other guests staying at the same time & see what’s on at the hostel during their stay. On the hostel side, we are streamlining check-in, lowering staff overheads and creating a mobile platform to engage more effectively with inhouse guests and direct them to the property’s other revenue centres.

What makes goki different from your competitors?
goki was the first guest management system for hostels.
Because we provide a platform for guests to use their phone as their key while they travel – we have a very high download rate, with over 2/3 of guests using the app during their stay. So, the number of guest’s hostels can communicate with is much higher on our platform than anywhere else. This makes sentiment tracking, marketing what’s on, sending shout-outs and managing extend stays much more compelling.

What is your favourite success story from your organisation?
Two weeks into our journey with goki, Base Backpackers took a sledgehammer to their reception.
If we were looking for signs of validation – this was pretty definitive! Guests don’t like long queues after long flights and filling in forms at check-in just to get to their room… Hostels want to use technology to automate the admin of check-in and have a more meaningful connection with their new arrivals.

What can we expect to see from goki in the future?
Network effect; We recently raised $5M from Hostelworld to get our guest management solution out to a wider network of hostels. We are targeting 14M check-ins by the end of Yr3 at the world’s best hostels – meaning that goki simply becomes your key when you travel.

Which trends do you see in educational and active youth travel?
Well, perhaps I am little bias – but ‘automation’ in travel is the biggest trend right now. With hostels, however, it’s an area where you have to tread carefully… The hostel experience is essentially a human experience – and no technology can replace that. What we have achieved with goki, is a removal of all the friction points that impede this experience so that more meaningful connections between staff and guests can be made.
I think ‘sustainability’ is also a very important trend or core principle that more and more companies are putting to the forefront of their business in youth travel. One of the things that we are product of at goki, is that we have completely removed plastic from the hostel’s operation. Guests are now either issued their SmartKey or a PIN for the length of their stay… Of course, this is a considerable saving for hostels no longer having to issue keycards or maintain expensive encoders – but more importantly, the idea of sustainability resonates deeply with the guests.

How do you work to ensure the health and safety of young travellers involved with goki?
‘Owning’ the hardware (opposed to integrating with 3rd party locks) means that we run extensive lock audit reports – understanding who has accessed locks and when, to keep guests safe.
The communication between our SmartKey & Hardware is encrypted, secured and cannot be intercepted. The randomised nature of the algorithm makes it far harder to hack than traditional lock systems. The goki lock ecosystem is designed in such a way that the ‘handshake’ happens at regular intervals – so the session key keeps changing.
On a social level, creating clear lines of communication between the guest and reception makes it easier for guests to voice any concerns they may have during their stay. Hostels can also send shoutouts, which are received by all in-house guests if any safety issues or warnings need to be efficiently conveyed to the guests.

What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?
I have been attending WYSE events for over 6 years now – it’s where the youth travel industry ‘comes together’ and I am very happy to be a part of that.

Have you attended a WYSE Travel Confederation event?
A few months after we launched, we won the Best Technology Product Global Youth Travel Award at WYSTC – which was a real honour and showed we were on the right track with our mission to make hostels smarter and guests happier. I have since attended a number of WYSTCs and always see huge benefits for our business and more importantly, lasting friendships in the industry. This will be my first STAY WYSE and I am planning to attend both conferences each year from now on.

Member snapshot

JO Swann - Adventures in Borneo S/B