A note from our CEO about your refund

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If you are reading this, I realise you have cancelled your booking with us and you want to collect your refund. If after reading the rest of this note, you’d still prefer to collect your refund in cash, rest assured we will fully honour our obligation to pay you the money we owe you. However I’d like a few minutes of your time to ask you to consider taking your refund as a Hostelworld credit worth 30% more than the cash we owe you.

As some of you may know, Hostelworld was founded more than 20 years ago by a hostel owner and a tech entrepreneur. Since then we have helped millions of travellers enjoy the hostelling experience. We have also been very proud to work with our hostel partners to showcase their experience through our Hoscar awards, and bring together hostel owners at our annual conferences and other local events around the world. We are all part of one big travel community.

For most of you, these trips will be the most memorable adventures of your lives. Hostelling is a unique experience – it is the magical combination of spontaneously planned trips coupled with meeting other likeminded travellers in hostels along the way. Perhaps this means having a beer and swapping travel stories or finding a buddy to share the next leg of your trip with. For many, it is the start of lifelong friendships and endless adventures. These trips are not just amazing experiences, they also help you grow. This kind of travel, especially solo travel, is character building. It boosts confidence, builds resilience and makes you more adaptable.

For some, these trips become life defining. They not only change you as a person, they also motivate you to want to do something to make the world a better place. The hostelling industry is a perfect example. You might be interested to know that many of the hostels you stay in today were set up by backpackers like you. These travellers turned business owners set up their hostels to continue the experience for the next generation of travellers. There’s no other way to travel where you can find such affordable and incredible places to stay, meet fellow travellers, and participate in experiences like learning to surf in Portugal, making your own pasta in Rome, learning to salsa in Nicaragua or discovering the Masai culture in Tanzania.

These are the reasons I joined Hostelworld almost two years ago. To work with a committed group of hostel owners who are passionate about changing people’s lives for the better through travel.

In the last 12 months we’ve been investing hard to bring you better apps and websites, and we still have more to do. We’ve also invested in businesses to give hostel owners access to exciting new technology to make your stay even better. And over the next couple of years we planned to invest even more to make it easier for you to discover the events and activities hostels run themselves, plus volunteering opportunities, work-stay experiences and educational programmes. All amazing experiences around the world, where we also plan to use the power of technology to help you connect with other travellers like you along the way.

Over the last few months, however, the entire travel industry has collapsed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The challenge we and our hostel partners face is obvious: governments all around the world are taking the necessary steps to contain the spread of the virus, including social distancing, lockdowns and global restrictions on travel. This has the immediate impact of reducing the demand for hostels, and travel businesses like ours. I think we all agree and understand why this is necessary to reduce the number of people who need hospital care at any one time, which in turn saves lives.

Like most other businesses, we have had to take very painful steps in terms of redundancies, reduced hours and deferring salaries for our employees. Our hostel partners have also been forced to adapt. In some cases, hostels are closing down for a few months to weather the storm. Others have no choice… government guidelines are forcing them to close, and sadly some hostels will likely never re-open. Despite the collective hardship, the hostelling industry has demonstrated its ability to come together in times of global adversity. We’ve seen many hostels open their doors to support their local communities, and we’ve also been working with hostels to find you a bed if you are stranded far from home.

Now we need your help. We have never seen such huge volumes of cancellations, which is understandable given the government restrictions in place. We were not prepared for this, and I am truly sorry you have had to wait for your deposit refund, when in normal circumstances we would have paid this out within days of receiving your request.

Although the unprecedented volume of cancellations places a very significant burden on our company right now, we will always do the right thing by our customers, which brings me to the point of this note: please will you consider taking a travel credit worth 30% more than what we owe you, valid for the next two years? If you choose travel credits, you will be making a small down payment on a future hostel experience, which helps the hostelling industry. You will also give us the opportunity to continue building a travel community for hostel partners and travellers like you who want to explore the world with others you meet along the way.

If you’d still prefer the cash, I completely understand this, and I promise we will get this to you as soon as we can when normal travel patterns start to resume. Please know that we are also working extremely hard to find a way to pay the money we owe you sooner. At the very latest we will provide you with your refund no later than 30th April 2021. If you choose to take a cash refund, I give you my personal commitment that Hostelworld will start processing refunds when travel picks up. It’s your money, we owe it to you and we know having to wait isn’t a great customer experience. We will be open and honest with you on the status of your refund and we will be sending you regular updates by email between now and when you receive your refund.

I’ve summarised the options for you below, which will apply to all the bookings you’ve cancelled:

Option 1: ‘Credits Bonus’ – Choose non-refundable credits and we’ll credit your Hostelworld account with your full deposit, plus an extra 30% of your deposit value. You will have two years to use your credits.

Option 2: ‘Credits Only’ – Choose refundable Hostelworld credits. We will credit your Hostelworld account with your full deposit. If you don’t use any of your credits by 14th April 2021, we’ll automatically refund your original deposit by 30th April 2021.

Option 3: ‘Refund Later’ – Choose to hold for a refund and we will do so as soon as we can when normal travel patterns start to improve. If this doesn’t happen, at the very latest you’ll receive a refund on your deposit by 30th April 2021.

For the last 20 years we have been bringing ‘Meet the World’ to life for millions of travellers. By choosing a travel credit, you can help us do this for the generations to come.

I hope you are all safe, well, and looking after your loved ones and the communities you live in.

Thank you for your time reading this letter and the trust you have placed in us to date.

Gary

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