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Despite Coronavirus, Young Adults Upbeat About World Travel

Young adult hostel-goers are often characterized by their spunk, sense of adventure — and optimism. A new survey of more than 6000 of them from around the world post lockdown confirms that: 64% said they have already started planning their next trip, and 61% said they’d be willing to visit countries that have been particularly affected by the pandemic. 

World Hostels: Post Covid-19 Reopening Survey ,” released in June by St. Christopher’s Inns on behalf of a collective of 11 hostels brands representing 86 properties globally was conducted to  learn how hostel-goers felt about traveling in the post-Covid world and changes venues need to make to adjust to ensure safety and prepare for the “new normal.” 

“We wanted to know what were the concerns of our target market regarding traveling again,” Anne Dolan, co-founder of Clink Hostels, a member of the collective, told Forbes. One of the surprising results of the survey was that hostelers “weren’t worried about traveling and that their concerns really hadn’t changed,” she said. For example, factors like price, location, cleanliness and ratings that have long been important to hostel-goers when booking accommodations before coronavirus still concerned them.

But one of the fundamental traits of hostel life will need a major re-haul, at least temporarily.

In the survey, 81% of respondents said it’s important that social distancing measures be put in place in hostels, particularly limiting the number of people in dorm rooms.

“Staying in a hostel is like eating in a fantastic Italian Eateria- it is busy, noisy, viby, and comforting,” Ms. Dolan said. It’s essence, “connecting with like-minded travelers and discovering new places to enrich your cultural understanding of people,” will not change, she added, but going forward “the inclusion part and feeling part of a community will be more challenging to manage.”  

Other highlights from the survey: 

  • 44% of respondents said they’d rather book a private room over a dorm room in hostels;
  • 63% said they will travel abroad rather than domestically;
  • 24% said they will feel comfortable traveling in summer 2020; 62% said they would be comfortable traveling this year (2020);
  • Only 3% said they won’t be traveling for a while;
  • 36% said they’ll be traveling solo; and
  • The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Israel and Scotland were among the most popular travel destinations respondents expressed interest in visiting post lockdown.  

Most respondents were between 18-34 years old and primarily from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Australia, Spain, Netherlands, Brazil and Mexico.

The survey detailed some changes that hostel-goers would like to see implemented. Many are similar to what hotels plan: more frequent and deep cleaning,and disinfecting of private and public areas; increased availability of hand sanitizer; good ventilation and airflow in all rooms; and cashless payments and online check-in and other measures to ensure that personal contact on site is kept to a minimum.

A number of suggested adjustments were specific to hostels: reduce occupancy in dorm rooms and shared bathrooms; if possible, book only one group per dorm room so strangers do not have to share; limit number of people at hostel bar and restrict large gatherings inside other areas ; serve individual rather than buffet breakfasts; provide entertainment and events that involve less interaction; offer ways to see the city with less reliance on public transport; and create more outside activities and social events. 

Efforts to aid these measures include displaying clear signage throughout properties and converting some smaller dorms into private rooms.

At ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam, which never closed, dorm rooms have been reduced to a maximum of 50% occupancy and there is still a disco “though at a physically safe distance,”  Ms. Dolan said.

“I hope social distancing is not really here to stay long term, as I think it runs counter to human well being,” she added. “It is a balancing game of respecting the regulations, our staff’s needs and engaging with guests who are brave enough to travel again and explore the cities that we love.” 

In addition to St. Christopher’s Inns and Clink Hostels, the collective includes: Flying Pigs, Astor Hostels, Hans Brinker Hostels, Cats Hostels, Yellow Square Hostels, Pub Love Hostels, Copenhagen Downtown Hotel, Hostels Hub and Europe’s Famous Hostels. 

To read the complete survey, click here.

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