The employees’ dedication to engage customers in the hostel industry


To achieve growth in the long-term a company should establish a collaborative and strategic link between engaged customers and engaged employees (Roberts & Alpert, 2010). Especially in the hostel industry engaged employees are essential to achieve customer engagement.

The total engagement model as defined by Robert and Alpert (2010) consist of three parties; the customer, the organisation and the employees. The organisation makes promises towards the customer, which the employees are to deliver to the customer by providing a customer experience. As the employees are expected to deliver a distinct value proposition it is important for the employees to understand and support the strategy. In the same article Roberts and Alpert highlight the total engagement model in action, whereas the engagement of the staff is the fifth out of seven steps companies should follow. In the total engagement model in action staff should be committed to the strategy and know they have the required knowledge and skills to deliver a customer experience. Furthermore, engaged employees are more motivated, more productive and more loyal (LaMalfa (2008) as cited in Roberts & Alpert, 2010)

The Total Engagement Model
Figure 1: The Total Engagement Model (Roberts & Alpert, 2010)

According to the findings of Borovskaya and Dedova (2014) ambience is the key element of a hostel. Travellers are looking for new experiences, something unique and social interaction. To maintain the ambiance engaged and committed employees are required (Lethinen, 2013). Social interaction doesn’t only involve interaction with other travellers but also with employees. Therefore, it is important that employees deliver the ambience that the hostel owner expects them to deliver and interact with customer to meet the customer’s wishes. In majority of the hostels, unlike hotels, the process of communication is not formalized. All interaction that takes place is thus more spontaneous and personal (Borovskaya & Dedova, 2014).

The owners of hostels can roughly be divided in two categories; those who only care about the profitability and those who care about the ambience in their hostel. The latter category often hires employees who are young, creative, sociable and open, as they are expected to have more in common with the customers. Those similarities make for more interest in each other and a better ambience. Furthermore, those employees are more motivated to help with advice and speak the same language as the customer. They provide exactly what the customers of a hostel are looking for; social interaction. In the study of Borovskaya and Dedova (2014) a hostel owner gave the following example “It is important that receptionists do not just keep sitting at the desk, they need to interact with customers, while not bothering them”. In Seville one can find La Banda Rooftop Hostel. La Banda means the gang of friends, upon entering the hostel employees treat the traveller as a friend instead of a customer. This makes for a perfect delivery of the organisations value proposition (Hostelworld, n.d.).

The dedication of employees in hostels makes they deliver a customer experience which meets and even exceeds the customer expectations. Most importantly, the successfully delivery of this customer experience results in the delivery of the value proposition as is proposed by the organisation.


Borovskaya and Dedova (2014) Creativity in hospitality industry: Study of hostels in St. Petersburg. Philosophy, Communication  22(2), 137–144

LaMalfa K. (2008) The positive economics of customer engagement retrieved September 10 from

Lethinen (2013) Quality of working life and engagement in an evolving hospitality subsector: the case of hostels.

Roberts, C., and Alpert, F. (2010) Total customer engagement: designing and aligning key strategic elements to achieve growth. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 19(3),  

Hostelworld (n.d.) La Banda Rooftop Hostel retrieved September 19 from

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