Don’t have a place to stay yet at SXSW this year? No problem. As long as you don’t mind sharing a room with six (or 12) people, social travel startup WeHostels has you covered.
The company, which has a mobile app that allows users to find affordable housing in hostels around the world, is launching a new way to search for places to stay during major events. Its new “Hot Trips” feature will allow users to hunt down housing during next month’s SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, as well as other future events like St Partick’s Fest in Dublin, or Oktoberfest in Munich.
For SXSW in particular, WeHostels has partnered with Firehouse Hostel, which is right around the corner from all the action on 6th in Austin. From March 8-12, the hostel will be making beds in its 6-person shared dorms available for as little as $68, or $63 for those who wish to stay in a 12-person shared room. The hostel will also have various amenities ready for SXSW Interactive guests, including free WiFi, a coworking area in the lobby, and complimentary breakfast. It also plans a party there Friday night.
The WeHostel app launched about six months ago, to offer users the ability to find low-priced housing in hostels or cheap hotels. It’s been building its inventory of places to stay ever since, and now has recommendations for about 60,000 around the world. Much of that inventory is in Europe, where backpacking and staying in hostels is still an integral part of the experience for many young adults, but it also has places in North and South America, as well as Southeast Asia.
The app has more than 100,000 registered users, the majority of which are between 19 and 25. Its biggest markets for users are the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Germany, but it hopes to get more people signed up throughout Europe, according to CEO Diego Saez-Gil.
WeHostels users tend to be spontaneous, with about a quarter of all its bookings happen on the same day, and another quarter of stays are booked the day before. The rest of all its bookings usually take place within a week of a user’s stay. That shows a lot of users are entering a city and trying to find a place to stay on the fly.
While its SXSW partnership is for shared rooms, the app caters to both private and dorm-style overnight stays. But prices are a significant discount to hotel stays or Airbnb listings in most cities. Average price in a city like San Francisco or New York City can run about $90 per night, but in less-expensive areas, like Southeast Asia, rooms could go for as low as $5 dollars a night.
WeHostels had raised $1.2 million in seed funding from of investors such as Ventech, Quotidian Ventures, CAP Ventures, Fabrice Grinda, and Dave Lerner, among others. For SXSW, users will want to book a little ahead of time. Already, its option for female-only shared rooms at the conference are booked out.