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StudentUniverse is the world’s leading travel booking service for students and youth, and recipient of the Best Youth Travel Agency award at this year’s Global Youth Travel Awards. We caught up with the organisation to discuss some youth travel trends and challenges the industry can expect in the New Year.

Firstly, congratulations on your award at the 2015 Global Youth Travel Awards. How do you plan to promote your award throughout the coming year?

Being named “Best Youth Travel Agent” by WYSE was a great honour. Initially, we shared this on the homepage of our site, on our “about us” page, our corporate blog, across our social media channels, in an email to our user base and in our monthly B2B newsletter. We will continue to discuss this designation in conversations with partners, prospective partners and media over the course of the next year.

What makes a youth travel agency stand out from the rest? Has this changed over time and do you expect it to shift in 2016?

Many students and youth don’t even know that they are eligible to save on travel just by being between 18-25 years old. Youth travel agencies stand out by the quality of their product and the pricing and terms they offer to travellers; but, young travellers will only book with a company that is reliable and offers a tech and mobile savviness that this demographic expects. StudentUniverse has relationships with more than 70 airlines and thousands of hotels around the world and is committed to helping students travel cheaper.

Snapchat: do you think it will become more widely used in 2016 and beyond or disappear?

When Facebook started out, college students thought it was so cool because they were the only ones on it. Now that the channel is completely saturated and everyone has an account, Snapchat is the new “it” social media channel where updates can be shared in a more private fashion. Snapchat is super relevant for travellers in particular because it allows them to share their experiences in real-time. We’ve never had a better mechanism for taking our friends along for our trips. For this reason, and due to the simplicity of the interface that young people show an appetite for, we see it being much more widely used in 2016 and beyond.

Are there non-travel brands that will look to marketing in the travel space for inspiration? Where should travel brands be looking for marketing innovation?

Travel is becoming more hyper-local and personalised. Travel brands can take cues from local retailers that have been locally advertising digitally for years – the right place at the right time is key.

To what extent will marketing and communications to millennials and generation z become even more visual?

We know that Gen Z-ers relate best to quick, “snackable content,” including interactive infographics, videos, photos and travel memes. Visual communication will work best when communicating with a generation that’s attention is extremely hard to garner, and hold.

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Are there certain types of travel experiences that you expect to become very popular in the coming year or ones that will decline in popularity (groups, destinations, modes of travel, activities, etc)?

There has been a shift to experiential versus sightseeing travel. Students are not only going farther but also changing their main reason for travel. Where visiting landmarks used to drive decisions, experiences have overtaken as the primary factor. Activities such as backpacking in Asia, extreme sports in Australia, and volunteering in South America are increasingly becoming more commonplace. Students are looking for unique experiences, enjoying a destination like a local, or seeking a secondary city as a destination.

Additionally, more people are willing to travel on their own. While tours give a value add and doing certain things with a group (like an African safari) are appealing, travellers are looking for authentic experiences. They are looking to embrace and understand the culture of the places they visit.

Do you have any predictions about mobile booking for 2016?

There has been a race to develop for mobile – via apps and responsive websites. 2016 will see a heavier focus on conversion optimisation in mobile.

Click here to pre-register for WYSTC and visit to enter the 2016 Global Youth Travel Awards. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and stay up to date with the latest news and announcements on how to enter for a chance to win and be recognised for your contribution to the global youth travel industry.