Analyzing Wanderlust: How Social Data Can Uncover New Insights about Hostel Travel

If you’ve ever traveled abroad, or ventured cross country, chances are you’ve stayed in or may have (at least) heard of hostels. Today, there are many more personalities than just the stereotypical student traveler involved in the hostel experience. Now, boutique hotels and hostels provide a unique opportunity for travelers as they bridge the gap between budget travel and a unique social experience. Increasingly, hostels are becoming more ‘posh’, both in the US and abroad. With the number of US students traveling abroad almost doubling in the last fifteen years, the travel and hospitality industry has a growing opportunity on their hands to better understand the draw for these types of locations.

To learn more about the potential opportunity, we investigated the discussions concerning the hostel market. How have hostels changed in the last few years? Who is booking hostels, and what factors are most important to consumers? All of these pertinent questions are important for market analysts and researchers to get a better picture of how the industry is shifting in real time.

To start, when diving into the demographic background of consumers that are discussing hostels online, it’s clear that  they’re more interested in travel compared to the rest of Twitter, with higher interests in locations such as India, Malaysia, Africa, and Dublin. These consumers also seem to have a socially-conscious and creative side to them, with strong interest in Charities, BBC Radio, Blogging and Writing. Additionally, we can see that in a shared space, Fitness, and Running are activities that both Twitter, and hostel consumers are enthusiastic about. Looking at these mutual interests are a great way to connect with a wider range of consumers, and can help expand a brand’s demographic reach for planned programs.

correct affinities for hostel

Parsing into these psychosocial interests can be beneficial to gain a stronger sense of audience demographics within the market. For example, knowing that consumers hold strong interest in writing and blogging could lead to building a blogging contest opportunity to increase sales, and loyalty for hostel brands. This can also inform key branding decisions for pricing to millennial audiences for the general hospitality industry.

Moving further into the demographic profile, we can see that from the beginning of 2015 onward, the age of consumers is a wide range, with 35% of consumers across social aged 17 and below, 22% of consumers aged 18-24, and 24% of consumers aged 35 and older.

2015-present hostel demographic interest

Backtracking to 2011, it’s apparent that consumers discussing hostels were not  as diverse as they are now, with the strong majority (52% of consumers) aged 35 and above, and only 8% of travelers aged 18-24.

2011 hostel interest
What makes a key audience choose one hostel experience over another? In learning more about what consumers value most when choosing specific venues, hostel and other hospitality brands can capitalize on major deciding features and services, to better entice audiences to visit their locations.

When looking into this conversation, we can see that since the beginning of 2015, location and cultural/social aspects lead the majority of discussion online, having increased 4 percentage points. Surprisingly, discussion regarding price has dropped 8 percentage points, while it seemed to be a secondary deciding factor from 2010 to 2013, that no longer seems to be the case. Cleanliness comes in dead last, making up only 10% of social conversation over the last year.

monthly om hostel

With more consumers than ever before taking to social media to express their travel frustrations or excitement, analysts in the travel and hospitality industry can monitor shifts in the market topics in real time, to better capitalize on new market opportunities. Social insights can be used to show other hoteliers and hospitality managers why the 18 – 24 year old demographic has shown an increased interest in hostels, and how to capitalize on the trends in the changing market. With more than a in spending on travel from 2013 to 2014, it’s clear that millennials love to travel, and the industry needs to make way for the selfie generation. By using information for what’s relevant for these economic choices, a hotel company could use these insights to change their targeted and segmentation for younger audiences.

For more information on consumer conversations relating to travel, check out our customer relations in the airline industry report.

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