As purse strings get tighter, hotel rates creep higher and hostels get hipper, Hostelbookers reports an 83% increase in bookings in 2008.
Travelers of all ages are now catching on to the fact that hostels provide fantastic value for money. Not only is the number of bookings increasing, but also so is the age of people booking the accommodation. For the first time, HostelBookers reports an equal number of bookings coming from the 18 to 24 year olds and 25 to 34 year olds – 43% in each category. The number of older travelers is also on the increase, with the over 35’s providing the remaining 14% of all bookings – the first time this age group has ever accounted for over 10%.
As the credit crunch continues to dominate the headlines it is not surprising that the new breed of hostel is appealing to a much wider audience and becoming a real alternative to budget hotels. David Smith, general manager, said, “The old image of the hostel is well and truly consigned to the past with today’s hostels more likely to have flock wallpaper, free WiFi, rainfall showers and a rooftop bar, than bedbugs and bad plumbing. Travelers of all ages are becoming more conscious of the money they are spending and our hostels and budget accommodation offer great value, without sacrificing comfort.”
Among HostelBookers’ 10,000 hostels in 2,500 destinations worldwide, tried and tested destinations still top the polls for popularity, with the top ten in 2008 being Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Dublin, London, Munich, New York, Paris, Rome and Sydney.
However, along with the increase in the average age of its customers, HostelBookers has also seen a notable uplift in bookings of a number of less high-profile destinations. Standout destinations for 2008 include Damascus and Aleppo in Syria, while hostels in Essaouira (Morocco) and Pai in Thailand have seen more backpackers than ever before. And people are increasingly leaving the big tourist destinations of Central and Eastern Europe behind, too, with Piran in Slovenia, Croatia’s Zagreb and the stunning Plitvice Lakes national park all witnessing huge surges in popularity. When it comes to Croatia, though, Split is the real success story, and Split hostels have been bursting at the seams throughout the year. Way up in Siberia, meanwhile, Irkutsk has seen more bookings than St. Petersburg, as a result of travelers looking to explore the wonders of Lake Baikal.
Independent reviews and strict quality ratings mean that HostelBookers is the only website in its sector that carefully selects its members and constantly reviews performance of its 10,000 budget properties to weed out the lower end.
HostelBookers is also the only major budget accommodation website that doesn’t charge a booking fee. By transferring the cost away from the traveler and only charging a 10% commission to the property, it has seen its market share grow exponentially in recent years.