Mayank Sahai, CEO at Madpackers
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An Interview With the CEO of Madpackers Hostels, Mayank Sahai

If you are a solo traveler or someone who wants to start their own backpacker’s hostel, then you just can’t afford to miss this interview.

Mayank Sahai is the CEO of Madpackers, a chain of backpackers hostels in India that focuses on increasing the solo travelers in the country and providing a safe experience to the travelers at pocket friendly rates.

The idea for this company came about when Mayank was travelling through China by himself.

This interview will continue with his personal experiences while traveling and how it led to the starting of Madpackers Hostels.

Madpackers Hostel

1. How did you get introduced to the concept of a backpacker’s hostel?

There wasn’t a hostel scene in India when I was traveling during my college years. My first real experience of a hostel happened in a quaint town in Mainland China and I instantly fell in love.

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Back home in Shanghai, I started staying in a lot of hostels over weekends and also while traveling across China, even on work trips, I’d stay in backpacker hostels.

It just made sense to bring this to India owing to the massive young population who are exploring the country like never before. And I’m super glad we did. 🙂

2. What can you say to someone who has never been out of their hometown before, to make his/her go for a solo travel?

Mayank Sahai at Madpackers Pushkar
In the picture: Mayank Sahai & Guests | Madpackers Pushkar

Do it. It will change your life in ways you can’t even imagine. You don’t need to go to a far off place. Take a short trip to a place close to where you are, stay at a hostel and interact with the amazing people you’ll find there.

Trust me, do it.

3. According to you, which is the best backpacker’s hostel in India?

This is a tough one to answer.

We love what we’ve been doing here at Madpackers by creating some really unique and social backpacking hostels, but if I had to choose a few, GoStops Varanasi has always been a favorite of mine, followed by the Hosteller in Kasol. Horn OK Please, in Mumbai is another favorite, so is Locomo.

Sorry, there are too many amazing hostels in India, so can’t choose. Recommend everyone to backpack across the country and decide themselves. 🙂

4. What is the profit margin for a typical backpackers hostel?

Madpackers Hostel in Delhi
Madpackers Delhi

A well managed backpackers hostel with an average occupancy of 65% should work at a 25-30% margin given the lease cost is between 20 to 25% of revenue.

Margins fluctuate a lot with the location type, but the above is a fairly standard range for a standalone hostel.

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Also, read: Ditch Expensive Hotels Out There For These 5 Backpacking Hostels Across India


5. Are backpackers hostel in India, safe for women?

One thing that hostels in India should be proud of is the fact that they have been able to create safe spaces for solo female travelers. There is obviously much more to be done on that front, but I think as an industry we are on the right path.

Another thing to note is that there are a lot of women-led and owned hostels in India that have been instrumental in making the space more accessible and acceptable for solo-female travelers.

We, at Madpackers, constantly want to keep pushing hard in this direction and continue to create more space spaces across the country and sub-continent.

Women Safety in backpackers hostel in India
Swati

6. Do you think India has seen an arise in the number of backpackers in the last 5 years? Why?

Absolutely. From having almost no hostels in 2013-14 to well over a 1000 in 2019, it’s been a crazy growth story.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has made a lot of people shut shop, but even through the pandemic there has been a lot of growth in terms of traveler interest. I’m confident the community will keep on growing exponentially for the next 5 years.

At Madpackers, we have been reaching out to other independent hostel owners to discuss areas and ways of collaboration to tide over this pandemic as one large community.

7. What advice should one heed when starting their own backpackers hostel business?

Running a hostel is a full-time job with it’s own unique set of challenges. Be very honest with yourself about the reasons you want to start the hostel for. Do your research, stay in hostels across the country and speak to the people working there. Their insights will give you a great idea about what you’re signing up for.

Better still, if you have time, volunteer or intern at your favorite hostel. Madpackers and other hostel brands have active volunteer/intern programs one can consider.

8. What is the most embarrassing that has ever happened in Madpackers?

Honestly, there are too many to mention.

9. How can someone register their property with Madpackers?

Madpackers Hostel

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Madpackers Hostel – Delhi

Call us, WhatsApp us, email us or just drop by one of our hostels. We are always excited to collaborate with passionate folk who want to build a life around travel. There is so much to explore, and we want everyone to jump on the MadWagon.

10. Tell us 3 life changing lessons you have learned after running a successful backpackers hostel.

  1. Communities can change the world. If you can build a thriving community, you can be part of long-term positive change.
  2. Stories are the bedrock of human connection. Everyone has a story to share. It’s our job to create platforms and spaces for people to share these stories.
  3. Kindness is Badass!

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