The face of a new global backpacker generation
‘Tried and tested routes’ are declining in popularity for Gen Z
The top three destinations for future Aussie Gen Z travellers are Greece, Norway and Portugal
Women are going on more extended backpacking trips than men
The majority of hostel travellers are now employed young adults taking planned vacations, rather than students
Over four in five (81%) recent travellers who went on extended trips chose to stay in hostels
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 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:
- Greece (41%)
- Norway (39%)
- Portugal (31%)
- Sweden (28%)
- Denmark (18%) / Canada (18%)
- Belgium (15%) / USA (15%)
- Ireland (11%)
- 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:
- South Korea – 276% increase
- Japan – 151% increase
- 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:
- Cuba (25%) increase
- Colombia (20%) increase
- Australia (17%) increase
- Portugal (10%) increase
- 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.
Hostelworld, the largest hostel-focussed booking platform, inspires passionate travellers to see the world, meet new people and come back with extraordinary stories to tell. Hostelworld customers are not your average tourists; they crave unique experiences that Hostelworld facilitates with the best choice of hostels around the world. It’s the social nature of hostels that turbo-charges their global adventures and empowers them to Meet the World.
Hostelworld has more than 11.5 million reviews across 16,500 hostels in more than 179 countries, making the brand the leading online hub for social travel. The website and mobile app operates in 19 different languages. The Hostelworld Group went public in November 2015, listing on the main London and Dublin stock exchanges. Headquartered in Dublin, Hostelworld has offices around the world in London, Shanghai, Sydney and Porto.
About the research: Hostelworld worked with Censuswide to survey over 5,000 people aged 16 and over across the USA, UK, Australia, France, Germany, India and Brazil.
* Past= People aged 40+, who have been backpacking, i.e. a multi-destination trip for 3 weeks or more and stayed in hostels/backpacker’s shared room accommodation when they were between the ages of 18 and 25
* Present= People aged 18-39, who went backpacking, i.e. a multi-destination trip for 3 weeks or more and stayed in hostels/backpacker’s shared room accommodation within the last 2 years
* Future= People aged 16-21, who are planning to go backpacking, i.e. a multi-destination trip for 3 weeks or more, and planning to stay in hostels/backpacker’s shared room accommodation, in the next 3 years
* Hostelworld Group booking data is from April 2019 reflecting the previous 12 months
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