Friday, August 28, 2009

The New Face of Hostels



You may want to rethink your idea of hostels.

The hostel scene has changed dramatically in the last ten years. The hostels of today are stylish, modern, clean, and are a great economic alternative to a hotel room. Hostels are becoming more and more popular, partly due to the economic downturn but also because they help provide the complete travel experience.

Recent findings from the World Tourism Organization show that young people today are traveling with a purpose - "to explore and to engage with cultures, and to mix their travel ambitions with study, work, volunteer placements and adventure. They tend to stay much longer and therefore spend more than the average tourist, interacting more closely with the communities that they visit and making a direct contribution to local businesses". This only further proves that there's a great opportunity out there for both hostels and local tour companies to partner together in order to bundle travel packages with accommodation in order to truly give this "experience" that today's traveler is searching for.

Hostels are a great source of information on local activities and for those that are already using online booking software, it's easy to become a reseller and sell local product. "The youth travel market is worth an estimated US $136 billion a year, or around 18% of worldwide international tourism receipts" (OMT - WYSE). Average money spent per trip grew 39% between 2002 and 2007 - and this could grow even further with closer relationships between hostels and local companies.


Hostels: Not Just For Youth

The long-standing myth that hostels are only for young people is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Although the youth travel segment accounts for a large portion of all dollars spent in hostels, one can't ignore the other target markets that are growing annually in market share.

Once commonly referred to as "youth hostels", hostels are shedding this image and becoming all ages friendly. More and more hostels are losing the age restriction rules they once had, and also marketing towards more a more diverse clientele. Target demographic groups are now expanding to include business and family travelers, which is also accounting for the higher demand of private rooms.


In addition to the business professional looking for some company and vacationing families on a budget, there are "grey gappers" who used hostels in their youth but are now looking for more comfort without breaking the bank. There is a dramatic shift happening right now as hostels expand their offerings to suit these new target demographics, and one can see why it's so important to act on these recent trends when "50% of the hostels all around the world increased their amount of beds in 2006" (source: OMT - WYSE).


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1 comment:

Andrea said...

Yeah, I've noticed that 'youth' hostels are really for anyone these days. I often stay in hostels and I'm in my 30s and I've seen older people staying there too. It's also interesting to see a lot of families staying in hostels.