The changing face of backpackers

May 27th, 2014 | | Accommodation

YHA Manager ConfAUSTRALIA’S youth travel industry will have to do more to cater to tech savvy young people, attendees at the recent National YHA Managers Conference in Adelaide heard.

YHA SA director Tracy Powell said backpackers were now „digital natives” and the industry needed to embrace technology and social media to connect with these customers, who have already spent a lifetime online.

„Although the future looks bright for our industry, how we source, and keep our business is fundamentally changing,” she said.

„It is crucial that we get the balance right by better understanding the channels, regaining control of our brand, proactively managing our products and more effectively communicating with our customers.”

Ms Powell said changing expectations will also influence our product offer in the future.

Guests already expect high speed internet at hostels and are often reluctant to pay for the service.

„How we manage and deliver this service in the future will not only influence our competitive offer, but also our bottom line,” she said.

„We need to continually review our products and value added services to remain relevant and important to the customer.”

YHA NSW chief executive officer Julian Ledger said Generation Z was hooked online more than ten hours a day every day and changes needed to be made to accommodate that.

„Nobody wants to be fighting with bad internet,” he said.

„We used to have computer terminals throughout our hostels but they’re going because everybody has their own device now.

„I think the only question is: what’s the best means of paying for it?

„You can still charge but you don’t want to be charging much.

„If you don’t charge the cost has to be built into the overnight fee.”

Mr Ledger also said the industry could expect strong growth from the Asia Pacific region in the future, but couldn’t take its traditional markets – Europe and North America – for granted.

Tourism and Transport Forum executive director Adele Labine-Romain agreed with his sentiment.

Ms Labine-Romain recently attended the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Hainan, China and said hostels were becoming more common there.

„The development of this part of the market in China is there,” she said.

„Those consumers are getting used to the product there so by the time they venture out and come to Australia they will be more comfortable.”

Ms Labine-Romain said young Chinese people increasingly want to travel outside group tours.

Written by Angela Saurine



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