Social distancing has been a difficult challenge for hostels. WYSE Travel Confederation estimated that social distancing has equated, on average, to a 52% reduction in capacity and a 66% drop in revenue for youth travel accommodation providers. Furthermore, many hostel operators have been concerned that the risk of COVID-19 and the implementation of social distancing in accommodation facilities have led to more negative opinions of hostel accommodation.
With no end in sight to social distancing and regulations having a significant effect on operations by restricting public movement and use of communal spaces, the September edition of WYSE Travel Confederation’s COVID-19 Travel Business Impact Survey asked buyers of hostel accommodation whether they are satisfied with the hostels they currently work with, what they will look for in hostel partners for 2021, and what they believe the opinions of young travellers are about hostel accommodation.
Young traveller opinions
Most buyers of hostel accommodation felt that COVID-19 had produced a more negative opinion of hostels with young travellers, which may stem from the idea that social distancing measures seem at odds with communal facilities and the social atmosphere that hostels cultivate for guests. Even so, 45% of accommodation indicated that there was no change of opinion on hostels. Also, given that buyers said hygiene certification is one of the most important aspects for the future accommodation partners they will work with in 2021 suggests that they believe any negative perceptions can be overcome.
Satisfaction with hostel partners
Buyers reported mixed experiences with regard to working with hostel partners. While the balance said they were satisfied or very satisfied, about 40% indicated that they were neutral about their partnerships with hostels.
Desired changes to hostel accommodation for 2021
The most important changes that buyers of hostel accommodation want to see in hostels are related to cleanliness and safety. Private rooms and more flexible cancellation policies were also important changes partners would like to see at hostels. The COVID-19 Travel Business Impact Survey has clearly indicated that accommodation providers have been actively modifying their terms and conditions since March this year.
In choosing which accommodation providers to work with, the most important factors are currently flexible cancellation policies, hygiene and price. Not surprisingly, communal facilities, such as kitchens and co-working spaces, are seen as less important at the moment.
In choosing which accommodation providers to work with, the most important factors are currently flexible cancellation policies, hygiene and price. Not surprisingly, communal facilities, such as kitchens and co-working spaces, are seen as less important at the moment. However, the provision of co-working spaces was significantly more important for those who indicated they were developing products for digital nomads. These same companies also thought that sustainability at hostels was important.
The Youth Travel Industry and COVID-19
To learn more about COVID-19’s impact on the youth and student travel industry, read our report The Youth Travel Industry and COVID-19. The report provides a summary of survey results derived from WYSE Travel Confederation’s COVID-19 Travel Business Impact Survey for the period March – August 2020. Change in demand, business concerns, consumer messaging, digital shift, business recovery outlook and many other topics are covered.
WYSE Travel Confederation
If your business would benefit from unique business insights on the youth travel market, industry representation for common business interests and new trading opportunities with international partners, we invite you to discover the resources of the global trade association for businesses serving young travellers, WYSE Travel Confederation.
 Social distancing equates to 66% drop in revenue for youth travel accommodation. July 2020. WYSE Travel Confederation.
 Data for this report were collected between 4 and 13 September 2020 by WYSE Travel Confederation, the global association for youth, student and educational travel organisations, via web-based questionnaire in English. The September survey was the seventh in the series.
The September survey attracted 338 responses from 69 countries. Three-hundred and eighteen responses were retained for analysis. Respondents included organisations specialised in youth travel products as well as those representing mainstream travel products, members and non-members of the association. All respondents were asked about the impact that the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has had on their business in travel. Questions related to change in demand, outlook for 2020, main concerns and actions taken in response to COVID-19 have been repeated across surveys.
The profile of respondents has remained similar from month to month during this survey series. Youth travel specialists, defined as those organisations with over half their main business in the youth market, have consistently made up 60% or more of respondents over the course of the survey series.