The Story of HostelPass

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As I lay on the lint-covered futon in the Airbnb that I had booked last-minute in a major Eastern-European city, I stared at the leather chair I’d wedged under the handle of the lockless door to my room and wondered if it would keep my creepy host from being able to come in in the middle of the night.

I wondered how I had ended up here—by myself, in an apartment that was a 40-minute walk from the city center, that smelled of stale coffee, and that (as I later found out) had bedbugs. The reviews had been great, it was cheap, and everything seemed all right on paper, but actually being there? That was a whole different story.

A photo that I sent to my mother at the time... she was not happy.
A photo that I sent to my mother at the time… she was not happy.

I was there because I was a first-time traveler who didn’t understand how to assess the best location to stay in a city that I had never been to. I was there because I trusted the reviews of a website that provided overwhelmingly positive feedback, even in negative situations. I was there because I was a college student on a budget, looking for the cheapest option, rather than the best one. And I was there because I didn’t want to spend all of my time on my phone or computer looking for something better, when I could have been exploring a new city.

In that moment, I decided to create something that would help keep fellow travelers from experiencing this sense of fear, wasting their time and money, and compromising on their spontaneity. I called it HostelPass.

Interlaken, Switzerland. June 2015.
Interlaken, Switzerland. June 2015.

That summer, after my study abroad semester in London, I traveled to 11 different European countries with the help of my Eurail Pass. I was able to be wonderfully spontaneous: hopping on-and-off trains in any city I wished, without worrying about purchasing individual tickets. However, the freedom and flexibility that the rail pass offered was unfortunately cancelled out by my struggle to pinpoint good quality lodging within my budget.

When I returned from traveling to begin my senior year at the University of Southern California, I adopted an entrepreneurship minor. I began testing different concepts for HostelPass in all of my entrepreneurship classes, and speaking with potential customers to pinpoint what kinds of features they’d want in our product. I asked my house-mate and friend, Meir Razzon, to join me in making HostelPass a reality, and in January of 2016, we registered HostelPass as a company in the United States.

Later that month, Meir and I flew to Amsterdam to attend the STAY WYSE Hostel Business Conference where we made connections with owners and managers of some of the best hostels in Europe, many of whom were eager to join our platform. We spent the rest of our senior year working diligently to bring HostelPass from an idea into a reality, and we are proud to say that the hard work has paid off.

Meir and me receiving our name-tags at the STAY WYSE Hostel Business Conference. January 2015.
Meir and me receiving our name-tags at the STAY WYSE Hostel Business Conference. January 2016.

HostelPass now offers a discount card for up to 20% off accommodation at the best hostels in Europe. We provide travelers with reliable accommodation that we have vetted in-person and through our network of affiliated travelers. Travelers can choose from a selection of curated hostels in their desired city and they can book directly with the hostel at a discounted rate, saving them time and relieving stress.

Meir and me winning $10,000 in USC's New Venture Seed Competition for HostelPass. April 2016.
Meir and me winning $10,000 in USC’s New Venture Seed Competition for HostelPass. April 2016.

The journey of creating HostelPass has been a whirlwind of challenges, late-nights, and European adventure. I have never felt more driven or proud when I think about what we have done so far, and all that we have the opportunity to do for fellow travelers. Watch this space!

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2 Responses

  1. I joined the Youth Hostel Assoc. in England when I was 16 years old. Loved it, and a cheap way to travel. I am now a Senior and 20 years ago after living in the U.S.A.
    once again traveled through England staying in hostels. A lot had changed in
    25 years! My question is: is there an age restriction on the pass and do you supply a book when you join with all the hostels you recommend?

    1. Hi Anne, thanks for sharing your experience with YHA England. It’s always interesting to see how things have changed over the years.

      HostelPass does not have an age restriction, and we work with hostels that cater to travelers of all ages. Just make sure to check if the hostel you’re interested in has their own age restrictions – some do for their dorm rooms (usually up to 35y/o), but generally not for private rooms.

      If accessibility is at all an issue, I would make sure to check if the hostel is wheelchair accessible (which would mean there should be a way up / down floors without climbing stairs), check if you can stay on a bottom bunk (if you are staying in a dorm room), and consider private rooms if that is within your budget.

      Also, check our “party scale” on our partner hostels profile pages, as the more relaxed hostels would probably be a nicer experience.

      Happy travels, thanks for your message, and keep enjoying hostels!

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