The first ever Hostelworld.com Asia Hostel Conference took off with great aplomb earlier this week in Shanghai, China, welcoming over 160 hostel owners from across Asia. The inaugural conference focused on a number of themes pertinent to the Asian Hostel Industry including top destinations for both inbound and outbound travellers, emerging markets and the importance of reviews and user generated content.
The conference was opened by Feargal Mooney, CEO of Hostelworld.com, who revealed that Asia was the fastest growing destination for inbound travellers for Hostelworld.com with bookings growth of over 30% in 2009. He also emphasised the importance of Asians in terms of outbound travel, showing a bookings increase of 20% in 2009.
Mr Cai JingHui, Market Representative with Lonely Planet supported the Hostelworld.com trends and highlighted that over 25% of hostel and hotel bookings on Lonely Planet are for Asian destinations. The majority of these bookings are for Hostelworld.com properties, emphasizing the significance of the hostel market for the budget conscious Asian traveller.
Mr Xiao Yi, CEO & Founder of Go2eu.com, focusing specifically on China revealed the impressive growth of the outbound China market, up 359% since 2000. Asia was the top destination for outbound travellers, followed by Europe, North America and Oceania. Budget accommodation was by far the accommodation of choice, with 3 out of 4 outbound travellers choosing hostels, B&B’s, campsites or budget hotels.
Mr. Wu Hao, General Manager of Daodao.com (TripAdvisor's official site in China), China’s largest review site discussed the importance of user generated content and how it can play a significant role in increasing website traffic and conversions.
Lorraine O’Reilly, Hostelworld.com’s Business Development Manager for Asia provided exciting statistics from Hostelworld.com on travel trends within the Asian market. Asian customers travelling within Asia are experiencing significant growth*, in particular Hong Kong whose bookings are up an impressive 75% followed by South Korea (71%) and China (62%). This can largely be attributed to the lifting of visa restrictions between Asian countries, a stronger desire for Asian travellers to travel closer to home and the propensity for Asian customers to seek out budget accommodation solutions, of which Hostelworld.com has the greatest choice and geographical spread.
She also emphasized that despite the global recession travellers outside of Asia are seeking value for money and want to experience the culture that Asian countries have to offer. Those with the keenest appetite for travel to Asia so far this year included the French (up 57%), Germans (up 37%), Americans (up 35%) and British (up 24%). Emerging top Asian destinations included Sri Lanka, up 298% year to date followed by Cambodia and Taiwan growing respectively by 82% and 78%
Commenting on the conference Feargal Mooney, Hostelworld.com CEO said “We’re absolutely delighted with the response to our first ever Asia Hostel Conference. Asia is a huge area of focus for our business; it is an incredibly exciting market with travellers who have a huge appetite for travel and adventure. We are really energized about serving this market, really getting to know our partners here and forging long term relationships with them. We look forward to emulating the success of the conference again next year.”
*All Hostelworld.com data is YTD 2010 v’s YTD 2009.