Hostelworld Drives 259% Increase in App Installs With Ambitious “Speak the World” Campaign

October 2017

One of the best parts of travelling is meeting people from all over the world. But if travellers can only talk to people who speak their language, experiences are limited. To help hostel visitors communicate, Hostelworld added a translation feature to its app and promoted the functionality on YouTube.


Drive downloads of Hostelworld app

Increase stickiness of app by giving users a better experience


Used Google Cloud Translate API to create “Speak the World” translation feature, allowing travellers to speak 43 global languages

Ran four-week Universal App Campaign

Promoted “Speak the World” with made-for-YouTube short film and 15-second TrueView spot


+259% increase in app installs

300% lower cost per install (CPI)

13M views on YouTube

As the #1 booking platform for hostels worldwide, Hostelworld knows that the real selling point of hostels is their friendly, open environments, where guests can meet fellow travellers and create extraordinary memories and experiences.

A key insight for Hostelworld is that 72% of its hostel visitors travel alone; 1) making it harder for them to break the ice with other travellers when they arrive at a hostel. Hostelworld also found that 15% of 18—24-year-olds put off travelling completely because language barriers prevent them from properly connecting with the places they visit. 2) Combining these two insights gave Hostelworld its problem and an opportunity for its app to solve: How could the brand help travellers get to know the places and the people at the beginning of their journeys?

Looking to boost installs and increase the stickiness of the Hostelworld app, the brand teamed with Lucky Generals and Google ZOO to add an innovative translation feature that would transform the app from a purely transactional service into a travel companion for users on the go.

Watch the full story here:

A translation tool for tongue-tied travellers

Hostelworld’s “Meet the World” positioning is all about bringing people together, so when Google ZOO approached Hostelworld with a way to get travellers talking, the team was all ears. Google proposed integrating the Google Cloud Translation API into Hostelworld’s existing app, allowing users to engage in fluid conversations in up to 43 languages.

By opening the app and selecting the aptly-named “Speak the World” feature, users can choose the language they wish to translate from and to. Turning the device on its side reveals a selection of lips that move as the user speaks—a fun icebreaker when meeting new people.


Spreading the word (and the humour) on YouTube

To make this new functionality famous, Hostelworld put it to the ultimate test. People say humour doesn’t travel, so Lucky Generals came up with the idea of sending comedian Phil Wang to Indonesia to try to make unsuspecting locals laugh in a language he didn’t speak, using nothing but the app. (Spoiler alert: Indonesians are a tough crowd).

The resulting 2.5-minute short film lived on YouTube—where Hostelworld’s target audience of young travellers goes for travel content and entertainment in general.

To further increase awareness, a second edit of the video was served as a 15-second TrueView ad. Hostelworld also ran a four-week Universal App Campaign to encourage downloads of the Hostelworld app.

Watch Phil Wang in Indonesia:

“Speak the World” drives more app installs for less

The “Speak the World” campaign was a huge success for Hostelworld, driving a +259% increase in app installs at a 300% lower estimated CPI. The TrueView numbers were also impressive, generating 13M+ views during the campaign period.

With more than 215 pieces of PR coverage, the campaign gained an overall reach of 90M across 17 markets globally.

Hostelworld Drives 259% Increase in App Installs With Ambitious “Speak the World” Campaign

The campaign results exceeded Hostelworld’s expectations, resulting in a $2.5M uplift in investment in video and display advertising in 2017 (40% increase vs. 2016). “‘Speak the World’ is a great example of what can be achieved when product and app developers, PR, and marketing work together with a shared objective,” concluded Otto Rosenberger, CMO at Hostelworld.

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