Alex Hostier spent 17 years working in the humanitarian sector, spanning a variety of roles from in the field to finance and administration in HQ, before the planets aligned to create the right moment for a move into the travel industry. Now co-owner of a bed & breakfast apartment - Bee Amsterdam - she combines her enthusiasm for meeting people from around the globe with an inherited talent for hosting.
Click.: What were the key moments in your career that defined your position now?
Click.: I’d always had this romantic idea of having a bed & breakfast, and welcoming guests from all over the world. The right circumstances came together - I stopped my previous career, I had more free time to think about what I wanted to do and a possibility came up for a place where we could have a bed & breakfast.
We bought an apartment close to ours, originally thinking it would be a space for friends and family to visit as we are not originally from the Netherlands. But of course, friends and family are not always there so in December 2018 we prepared to welcome our first guests.
When I was working in the humanitarian world I was meeting many different people from different backgrounds and environments. I missed that and unconsciously I’ve been maybe finding that again running my bed and breakfast. It’s that opening to the world that is the common point between my previous career and role today.
Click.: What have been your major successes?
Hostier: We put a lot of attention into the apartment and we are now a 9.7 [Guest Review Score], so that’s really been a highlight - being rewarded for the effort my husband and I put into the place. We tried to make it as welcoming as possible, like the place we would like to find ourselves when travelling and to see it being appreciated by our guests is great.
Click.: What have been the challenges (and how did you learn from them)?
Hostier: I’ve learnt that guests are different to friends and family - they might not share the same values, they might not use the place the way you expect (for example the recycling bins) and you need to shift your expectations for that. You have to be a perfectionist when they arrive to check-in - super welcoming, fresh flowers - but then you have to be super laid back when they check-out. But that’s a good lesson for life in general.
Click.: What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
Hostier: It took a little time to figure out the best working flow - for us renting to new guests every day wasn’t the best option and it took a while to realise we needed a minimum number of nights. We’ve noticed that the guests who are most appreciative of the space are those who stay longer, because they can make the most of it. We understand our best match, you can’t be for everyone, and that’s really key.
Click.: What has been the most surprising moment?
Hostier: Guest who have arrived with little presents. We’ve received a box of tea from Russia that the guest gave us on arrival, and we’ve received handwritten thank you notes - which is not so common anymore.
Click.: Did you have anyone that mentored or inspired you?
Hostier: I’ve been inspired by other destinations, where I liked the vibe or the decoration. But as a mentor, someone who has always inspired me with their hosting skills is my mother. She was always very welcoming, seen by all my friends as kind and warm - offering food and making sure everyone is comfortable. In France we say she’s really cutting herself in four - she always makes sure people are having a nice time. From her, I think I have a natural sense of hosting.
Click.: What one piece of advice would you have for someone starting out in the travel industry?
Hostier: If you want to benefit from the rewarding feeling and the nice vibe of being a host do it because you love it, not just for the profit.
- Alex Hostier spent 17 years working in the humanitarian field, before a career break gave her the opportunity to make a leap into travel
- Bee Amsterdam welcomed its first guests in December 2018 and since it has achieved a 9.7 Guest Review Score
- Hostier has combined her love of meeting people from around the world with hosting skills inherited from her mother in her new role as a bed & breakfast owner