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With rooftop terraces complete with hammocks to swim up bars and Instagrammable backdrops, hostels have evolved far beyond the concept of sharing a room with backpackers to trendy stays that aren’t just for budget conscious travellers.
Targeting a demographic that craves social experiences and interactions, G Adventures and Hostelworld have joined forces to launch a new travel style called Roamies, which combines the social hostelling experience with small group adventure travel .
“It’s about bringing people together in a community environment. Hostels naturally bring people together. They’re great places to hang out with like minded people,” says G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip. “Together we’re creating a new style of travel that will allow them to have a better travel experience and support our model of community tourism, which is based on investing in as many local and small businesses as possible. There is no better representation of that than in the hostel market, of which many are family-run businesses.”
Roamies launched with a total of 38 tours in 15 countries across 50 hostels in destinations like Albania, Austria, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Peru, Thailand, and Vietnam. And while these trips are marketed to 18-to-35 year olds, there is no age limit so even those outside of the age range are able to book these trips.
“I don’t think people book hostels just for price,” he adds. “It is about experience and our data shows that on the other side of the pandemic it’s got to be more purposeful and meaningful. It’s not about the price point, it’s about sharing experiences, community and the social element. They’re really the future of travel for young people.”
Gary Morrison, chief executive officer of Hostelworld Group, says 80% of their customers choose to stay in hostels to meet other travellers and these trips combine the best of hostels with the ability to do “all of this really cool adventure travel.”
“When young people travel, they want to do more than just see places — they want to make meaningful connections and have new experiences that positively change their perspective on themselves and the world,” says Morrison. “With so many young people missing out on trips of a lifetime in the last couple of years, Roamies will offer them an entirely new type of planned backpacking adventure in 2022.”
Poon Tip told Travel Courier that the partnership was created with travel agents in mind.
“That’s another part of the collaboration that’s exciting. Hostelworld is direct to consumer and we are very agent focused and that was another reason to work together,” he says. “We wanted to bring Hostelworld to life within the travel industry. It was created to allow travel agents to access these small community hostel businesses in a group experience for your customers. In our Sherpa platform, all of these tours will be available.”
Roamies trips start at $249 p.p. for a three-day trip with tours starting to depart on May 8, 2022. The trips are available to book now with a maximum of 24 travellers on each departure.
Although there are currently tours in three continents, Morrison says, “this is very much the start of a journey. As travel restrictions ease, we plan on building this portfolio out to the four corners of the world and doing some really exciting adventures.”
As for travel trends coming out of the pandemic, Poon Tip says G Adventures’ data shows that travellers are seeking more active trips and to contribute to local economies during their trips.
“People are more purpose driven, they want their trips to give back and mean something,” he says.
With 2/3 of their travellers being solo travellers and 2/3 being female, he says the benefits of Roamies is added security, as well as the social aspects.
“It’s an exciting project in a very dark time,” he says. “I always say never waste a good pandemic. Let’s use this time to come back stronger and better. 31 years on and two years into a pandemic we’re still creating something new.”
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