I’m very open-minded when it comes to travel. Working in this industry for my whole career has gifted me the opportunity to see so many different places and meet people from all over the world. Its clichéd but there’s a lot to be said for immersing yourself in a local culture and traveling beyond the typical tourist spots in a city. With that said, sometimes it’s hard to beat a beer in the sun and going to the beach with my family.

As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marc Roebersen, Clink Hostels’ new COO.

Marc has a wealth of experience as a director in the hospitality industry and is leading on Clink’s aspirational expansion plans, starting with the opening of the brand-new hostel Clink i Lár in Dublin in October 2023. In this role, Marc is embracing new challenges in developing the Clink Hostels brand, and further establishing it as a leader in the European travel market. His experience spans key European regional manager roles for Generator Hostels looking after Amsterdam, Paris and the UK, as well as seven years with Postillion Hotels, a large hotel chain in the Netherlands who position themselves as ‘Smart Hotels’, with a focus on tech innovations in the guest experience.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I actually caught the ‘hospitality bug’ at quite a young age. My father worked in hotels, and my mother worked as a stewardess for KLM Airlines, so I naturally ended up spending a lot of time in and around hotels. I found it hard not to develop a passion and appreciation for a truly great hospitality experience.

Around age 15, I started working as a Kitchen Porter in a hotel which gave me a totally different perspective on the industry. Following that, I went on to do just about every different hospitality role imaginable. The experience has really helped me to understand the entirety of the operation behind a hotel’s day to day running. That helped me to move into managerial positions, before working my way into strategic and commercially-focused positions in hospitality brands, including General Managerial positions with Postillion Hotels in the Netherlands, followed by Cluster Manager role with Generator Hostels overseeing operations in Amsterdam, and London. Then, this exciting opportunity with Clink Hostels emerged, and felt like a great time to make a lasting legacy in driving forward the expansion of an exciting hospitality brand. I’m now the Chief Operations Officer for the company, but also oversee the commercial activity.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

To me, my career as a whole is what you could call an interesting story, from “starting at the bottom” as a Kitchen Porter as a teenager to where I am now as a hospitality-industry COO. It’s allowed me to really understand and feel the hardships of each and every person in the hospitality industry, and has given me a profound understanding of the importance of interdepartmental connection and treating each other with importance.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

Especially for a brand like Clink, its pivotal to keep up to date with current tech trends. The 18–25 age demographic is a key market, so we need to make sure we are up-to-date with the tech they are using. From an operational perspective, our hostels need to have smart-functionality in line with the market. For instance, we use seamless self check-in systems at our hostels.

Additionally, our commercial strategies need to adjust constantly to keep up with this audience’s demands and preferences. This means keeping travel trends firmly in consideration when devising commercial strategies, and making sure we are talking to our audience via the platforms they are using.

Following the launch of a new website in 2023, we are implementing a bespoke booking engine which will simplify the customer journey and help us provide a more engaging booking experience on our website.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation and how do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

When it comes to the launch of our own booking engine, we will be striving towards driving more direct sales on our website. It’s no secret that this is a huge aspiration for brands all across our industry. Hospitality providers are becoming increasingly concerned in this area, especially given the volatility when it comes to data capture with browsers moving towards a ‘cookie-less’ experience for users.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

After various lengthy lockdowns, 2023 in particular proved a really strong year for companies across the travel industry, and people from all backgrounds were very keen to experience the world after not fully being able to. Right now, it’s more difficult to make projections for 2024, as rising costs will make it more challenging for similar numbers of people to travel, when compared to the first couple of years post-Covid. We have a lot to be hopeful for and we’re well prepared for the changes which might be coming in global tourism, especially with the opening of our newest location Clink i Lár in Dublin, along with some major renovation projects to our existing properties.

With that in mind, it’s going to be pivotal to adopt proactive practices to revenue and rate management to meet the needs of a volatile travel market, and to be less reactive than companies may have traditionally been. We’re all going to need to be on our toes, to keep adapting to traveler needs.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

I’m very open-minded when it comes to travel. Working in this industry for my whole career has gifted me the opportunity to see so many different places and meet people from all over the world. Its clichéd but there’s a lot to be said for immersing yourself in a local culture and traveling beyond the typical tourist spots in a city. With that said, sometimes it’s hard to beat a beer in the sun and going to the beach with my family.

Everyone is different, but there are definitely some points that I believe make traveling smoother and more fun.

I like to go off the beaten track, and trying to find fun ways to see cities. For example, we travelled to Budapest for some team-building activities last year and we spent two hours going around the city on electric scooters. It was a really great way to see parts of the city we wouldn’t have on foot, by bus, etc. I would recommend looking for the quirkier ways to get around.

Local guides are truly unsung heroes. There’s so much available online that you can research before you travel, and that’s really great. However, there’s something special about having someone in the city who can take you to places they find meaningful or fun. It’s a great way to gain perspective and also helps you avoid tourist traps, and some are even free.

Being open-minded is important in all aspects of life, and travel is no different. Sometimes in our industry we can see people being dismissive when it comes to certain ways of doing things because they are different. For me, it’s important to have an open mind and learn from differences. It will make your travel experience better.

That ties in with learning about the local history. More and more in our hostels we see the demand to learn about the history of our cities. It’s especially visible in Dublin with people wanting to learn about why things are the way they are, and it’s really great to see people willing to learn about new places or cultures.

I have to be a little biased with at least one of my tips. I’m a big fan of sport, so I would always encourage people to attend a sporting event while they travel. It’s awesome to see the unique ways people interact at different games, as well as the passion people have for their local team. I’m still waiting on the Dublin team at Clink to bring me to a game.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. The team is so important, possibly the most critical part of any hospitality brand. At Clink, we have a team full of friendly, knowledgeable, accommodating and compassionate people. It’s inspiring to see and we can see the positive impact it has on our guests. Coming back to my point about local experience and knowledge, we work hard at Clink to offer these insights. Our teams pride themselves on being local guides who can facilitate the best trips for our guests, from advice on some of the best tourist spots, to advising people on under the radar or lesser known locations so they can uncover their own ‘hidden cities’ on their stay. The team are also absolutely front and centre in leading the guest experience. Listening to your guests is the easiest way to learn, and improve. Understanding what your guests pain points are helps to make sure you are meeting and exceeding their expectations during their stay.
  2. Partnering with brands who help improve your product keeps you on top of your game. We are always working on new partnerships at Clink. For example, we’ve just rolled out a ‘Drink Stock Exchange’ at the bar in our Amsterdam hostel for a fun and interactive event for our guests. We also make sure that our tour partners are relevant to guests and offer the most exciting experiences. We are working on a partnership with a tour operator who incorporate virtual reality elements into existing day trips in Amsterdam, which we are really excited about.
  3. The vibe in the hostel is crucial for the guest experience. From the first impression when a guest walks in to the moment they check out, hospitality providers need to make sure that the music on the sound system is suitable, that the interior is well-lit and stylishly decorated, and that the atmosphere is friendly and encourages people to hang around. This is especially important in the hostel industry, as we’re actively subverting expectations. There’s still an expectation that hostel accommodation will be a ‘no frills’ experience, and that’s not what Clink stands for at all. We keep raising that bar for our guests.
  4. Roll with the changes. Travel is constantly evolving. For example, Clink really embraces technology. I’ve been a big believer in this for a while now and it really can’t be understated. Using technological tools to your advantage is better for both your team and your guests. Even simple tools like self-check in kiosks make life easier for your guest. Something that reduces someone’s stress while they travel is going to be a win. In the same vein, sustainable travel is here to stay and we couldn’t be happier about that. When making decisions, we ask how we can reduce our own footprint. It’s something we are very passionate about, and from feedback we can also see that it’s important to our guests. This helps us to build a deeper connection with our guests. We’re always asking ourselves how we could change or improve, to pass those improvements on to our customers and meet their needs.
  5. Engaging with the local community is a lovely way to offer your guests a more authentic experience at their destination. For example, last year ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam partnered with Zuivere Koffie, a social enterprise coffee roasters that helps to reintegrate former prisoners into the workforce and get back on their feet. As part of our support with their initiative we gave them space to host a pop-up barista stand where they were able to speak with our guests and tell them their story. It’s one small example of how you can bolster your guest experience and give them something truly unique to the city they are visiting.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

When it comes to a company like Clink, we actively engage with local partners and get behind causes we are passionate about. In many cases, CSR initiatives are used as a simple marketing tool as opposed to being a genuine objective for a brand. We strive to make sure decisions around our initiatives are coming from a genuine place and we are keen on making an impact from the offset.

For instance, at two of our Amsterdam properties, we recently launched an initiative whereby €5 from every direct booking we receive is donated to our local partner charity, Mensen Maken Amsterdam, which invests in local projects and people to make Amsterdam a better place to live for everyone. Fostering communities is a cornerstone of our brand and helping improve our neighbourhoods is a great way to do that.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Clink Hostels is active all across social media. You can find us at the following links:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/clinkhostels/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@clink.hostels
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/clink-hostels/

Marc’s own LinkedIn can be found at: https://linkedin.com/in/marc-roebersen-a4b8511b

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.