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The Face of a New Global Backpacker Generation

June 13, 2019 Hotel News No Comments Email Email

Hostelworld, the world’s leading hostel-focused online booking platform, has unveiled its ‘Evolution of the Hostel Traveller’ Report today. The global report breaks backpacker stereotypes and unpacks traveller behaviours across three generations, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y.

The report, which surveyed over 5,000[1] people from different generations – including Australia, the USA, UK, France, Germany, India and Brazil – has revealed a noticeable shift in the activity’s backpackers do when travelling across the globe and in hostels. Partying has taken a back seat, and in its place is volunteering, venturing to off-the-beaten-track destinations and long-term planning.

Furthermore, Gen Z’ers are looking to explore beyond the traditional routes with a 33% decline in trips planned to ‘tried and tested’ destinations when compared to Gen X or Baby Boomers.

Busting the backpacker behaviour

According to the study, there has been an 85% increase in Aussies looking to engage in volunteering whilst travelling compared with 20 years ago. Supporting this, we know that whilst nightlife is still an important part of the backpacking experience, the report shows that it is dropping down the priority list. Future travellers expect once in a lifetime experiences (34%) and culture (49%) to be more memorable than nightlife (17%).

However, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to socialise at all. Future hostel travellers want to meet new people from all over the world, with almost a fifth (19%) ranking social space as the most important consideration when choosing where to stay – an area where hostels excel.

Booking habits have also seen a substantial shift. Aussie Gen Z’ers are booking their accommodation 3-6 months ahead, a huge increase of 231% from past travellers. Similarly, there has been an 83% decrease in on the day bookings.

The report also showcases that there is a 57% increase in Gen Z travellers planning shorter trips during their university breaks, rather than taking a full year off after school. This is a trend that’s showing a particularly strong growth for Indian (208% increase), French (70% increase) and Australian students (35% increase).

In addition to social space and free activities, future travellers want unique accommodation, not just your standard hotel décor but something a bit different. In fact, hostel décor is becoming an increasingly important factor to where millennial travellers choose to book (44% increase).

Gary Morrison, CEO, at Hostelworld said, “Our Evolution of the Hostel Traveller report shows how much hostelling has changed in the 20 years that we’ve been operating as the world’s leading hostel-focused online booking platform.

“This is only the beginning of what’s to come. Today we’re seeing a booming hostel industry, as global demand to explore the world and connect with new cultures continues to rise. Travellers are evolving, and so are the hostels where they’re staying, which is why I am excited to see what the next 20 years will bring.”

Tried and tested routes are declining. Off the beaten track routes are the winners

Latin America is the biggest emerging backpacker route for Millennial and Gen Z travellers. Whilst Europe captured the hearts of past jetsetters, Central America has created a newfound appetite for adventure, with a 61% increase in travellers heading there today. For Gen Z, South America is top of their list, as one in five (20%) 16-21-year olds surveyed intend to visit South America in the next three years.

According to the report, the countries with the highest growth in desire to visit for Aussie Gen Z travellers (by % growth in comparison to Millennial travellers) are:

  1. Greece (41%)
  2. Norway (39%)
  3. Portugal (31%)
  4. Sweden (28%)
  5. Denmark (18%) / Canada (18%)
  6. Belgium (15%) / USA (15%)
  7. Ireland (11%)
  8. Spain (10%)

Asia continues to reign supreme for Millennial travellers, with Eastern Asian countries taking the two top spots for the most growth as a travel destination for those recent travellers. The top three countries increasing in popularity for Millennials globally (by % growth) are:

  1. South Korea – 276% increase
  2. Japan – 151% increase
  3. Cuba – 135% increase

The rise of female solo travel

The secret is out…female wanderlusters are seeing and experiencing more of the world. The new report reveals three-quarters (75%) of women across the world have gone or plan to go backpacking, compared to only two-thirds (67%) of men.

Where solo travel was once seen as brave and risky for female travellers, a shift in attitude has meant that it is now adventurous and exciting. A trend that can be seen through Hostelworld’s own booking data reflects this trend with bookings made by solo female travellers increasing by a huge 88% over the past four years.

Aussie females are also more likely to want to engage in volunteering with 66% of females planning to engage in volunteering whilst backpacking compared to just 33% of Aussie men.

The growth figures for the destination’s women globally plan on travelling to are also much higher than men.

Top 5 future destinations for men:

  1. Cuba (25%) increase
  2. Colombia (20%) increase
  3. Australia (17%) increase
  4. Portugal (10%) increase
  5. Brazil (10%) increase

Top 5 future destinations for women:

  • Brazil (75%) increase
  • Iceland (67%) increase
  • Chile (67%) increase
  • Fiji (67%) increase
  • Norway (67%) increase

This growth in desire for adventure-prone destinations is being driven by Aussie women for Brazil, a 179% increase compared with past travellers.

The Tech Traveller

With technology becoming more and more accessible every day, it is no wonder that travellers are looking to tech solutions to make their backpacking experiences more seamless. Hostelworld have seen a 54% increase in bookings via the mobile app in just two years. According to the latest figures in 2018, 40% of Hostelworld’s customers booking via the mobile app compared to just 26% in 2016.

The Hostelworld app isn’t just designed to make booking hostels quick and easy on the go, the in-app features encourage backpackers to get social and easily connect with each other. The most recent update saw Hostel Chat added to its functions, designed to allow travellers to easily speak to other guests regardless of languages. Find the full ‘Evolution of the Hostel Traveller’ report here.

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