That's a Wrap, Folks!
The campaign may be over, but that doesn't mean that we're done working. Watch our website (or your inbox) for any updates from Stay Hostel! Reach out to us if you want to help in any way, shape, or form!
Here's What We'll Do With the $$$
UPDATE 5/5: Much more than these seemingly-simple steps will need to occur to make Stay Hostel happen, but these are some of the major milestones we can label as we near the halfway point of our campaign. Please continue helping us spread the word and telling people what a great idea a hostel is for Grand Rapids.
For those that are curious, the differences between a soft opening and a grand opening include the hiring of a live-in employee, the level of initial marketing, and many other details that could affect Stay Hostel. This $10,000 threshold could limit things like what days we're open, the quality of maintenance, or the number of hours that staff are present.
Want to See a Hostel in Grand Rapids? Us Too!
As avid travelers, we were surprised when we heard there was no hostel in Grand Rapids. Many other people visiting and living here have felt the same way--trust us, we've had this conversation countless times. So we decided that we would fix this by opening our own. This decision came in early 2012, which means we've been working on Stay Hostel for more than two years.
The view from the Amway Grand during ArtPrize 2009 (Photo courtesy of Brian Kelly)
Why Do We Want to Open a Hostel Here?
Travel is one of the most important things people can do with their lives and, by opening a hostel here, we will be providing a space for individuals to experience more fulfilling travel here in Grand Rapids. But it's not just them that would benefit from a hostel--it's the entire community as well.
Speaking of the community, this isn't some endeavor to put GR on the map. That's already been taken care of: We've got ArtPrize, we've received the title of Beer City USA for two consecutive years, and Lonely Planet said that our city is the #1 place to go in 2014. These things have made the absence of a hostel even more obvious, motivating us to get Stay Hostel in place as soon as possible. If this campaign goes well, we plan to be up-and-running by late summer or fall of this year.
There's also this little snippet that highlights what a hostel can do economically: In 2007, nearly 33,000 guests staying at a hostel in Boston contributed more than $12.5 million to local economic growth. The report from the Boston Business Journal indicated that approximately $10 million of that was spent on recreation, food, and retail. Though Grand Rapids is not Boston, we have estimated that if Stay Hostel has even 5 percent of the guests that the Boston hostel hosted that year (or a total of 1,640 guests), travelers could contribute as much as $625,000 to our local economy per year.
In addition to the economic benefits that a hostel will provide to Grand Rapids, we plan on hosting community events on a regular basis. This will give citizens the chance to directly engage with people who are traveling here, be it through conversation, art, music, drinks, food, whatever. We also want to showcase local artists by using our space as a place to vocalize their creativity on an international stage.
Founders Brewing Company (Photo courtesy of Lonely Planet)
Why Does Stay Hostel Need Money?
So, we have this spreadsheet titled "Opening Costs" that has a huge list of items on it, each of them with a price tag. This includes bunk bed frames, mattresses, pillows, sheets, bath towels, shower curtains, bathroom renovations, soap dispensers, kitchen appliances, eating utensils, breakfast items, computers, a phone, a desk, a legitimate website, a washer, a dryer, couches, tables, lockers, cleaning supplies, rent, utilities, insurance payments, and a number of other things. By our estimates, we will need $55,962 to cover these costs plus six months of operation.
By contributing to Stay Hostel, you will be providing a space for travelers to enjoy downtown Grand Rapids at an inexpensive rate. They won't have to shell out hundreds of dollars at the hotels in the area, they won't have to rent a room on Airbnb, and they won't have to surf on a stranger's couch. They will have a safe, reliable place to stay with people who know what's good in the city, giving them the opportunity to see Grand Rapids in all its glory. With a low nightly rate, these individuals will likely stay here longer, giving them a real shot at falling in love with the awesome city that we live in.
The new Downtown Market (Photo courtesy of Experience GR)
The City Gets this Awesome Hostel... What Do You Get?
Like any good crowdfunding campaign, we've got a few things to offer in return for your contributions. Some are a little weird, some are a little awesome, and some could lure you into our incredible city. First off, we have our effervescent gratitude to share. We will also be creating abstract portraits of contributors with plans to make a mosaic out of them in the shape of our logo. You can even get your name inscribed on our contributor wall. Random knick-knacks will be shipped to individuals who contribute a little more. We'll also be getting our logo turned into pins for all of the cool kids to wear! Free nights of stay will be given to those who contribute further. Later on, we'll be hosting a hostel-warming party, which serious contributors will be invited to attend. If you want to go above and beyond, you can even name our bathrooms, as well as our bunkroom.
If we don't reach our goal, we will be using whatever money we receive to select a location, initiate a lease, and begin renovations. Having a suitable location and some capital will be more than half the battle. The rest of it should come with time, a barrage of fundraisers, some random generosity, some more hard work, and maybe some loans too.
Founders Fest 2010 (Photo courtesy of The Full Pint)
Here's What We're Doing in the Meantime
We'll be scouting locations around downtown Grand Rapids, engaging volunteers to generate awareness, talking about the hostel every chance we get, and making connections with individuals who can help us be as prepared as possible to make Stay Hostel the best it can be. For instance, we're attending the Heartland Hostel Summit in Indianapolis this year. Many hostels from the Midwest will be represented at this event and we'll be looking for the sort of insight that can only be gained from someone with experience. In addition to this, we'll be seeking local professionals with legal and financial expertise to help us hammer out the details as we move forward.
Festival of the Arts 2013 (Photo courtesy of Local Spins)
Support Stay Hostel by Sharing Our Campaign!
If you want to see Stay Hostel happen, share this page with your friends and family. Tell them about the project. Talk about traveling. Consider coming to Grand Rapids. Like Stay Hostel on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Think about our awesome perks for contributing. And whatever you end up doing, if it helps us move forward: thank you.
Lights in the Night during ArtPrize 2012 (Photo courtesy of Scott Group)
Want to Learn More About Hostels, Grand Rapids, or What the Media Thinks of Stay Hostel?
Follow us on social media as we post insights about hostels throughout our campaign. Take a peek at the ExperienceGR website if you want to learn more about our fantastic city or search #grmi on Twitter and Instagram. Also, scope out some of the media coverage we've received in the past on our website here.