Hostels, Airbnb and the desire for authenticity

It’s no secret that online reviews are more important than ever before. Millennials and Generation Z, especially, are putting their faith in Internet ratings. At the same time, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell what’s real online. After all, we’re witnessing the birth (and rapid evolution) of creepily realistic deep fake technology. In the service industry specifically, review fraud has become commonplace. While authenticity becomes trickier to verify online, it’s exactly what guests are craving in real life. 

But what exactly does “authenticity” mean? In one sense, it means living like a local, and it may be one reason that today’s hostel travelers are “taking it slow.” They’re spending more time in fewer destinations, instead of breezing through countless cities. This could also be one reason that so many travelers in general are searching sites like Airbnb for “authentic” homestay-style accommodation. They want to walk in someone else’s shoes…but only if they’re relatively clean. In other words, there are limits to the type of authenticity they’re looking for. We can see these limits in common guest complaints on Airbnb: the room was dirty; the host didn’t respond to my questions; the WiFi was too slow! 

“Authentic” accommodation can leave guests wanting in more than one area. It’s in these areas that hostels can shine. While hostels have the down-to-Earth feel that guests are craving, they also maintain the level of professionalism that those same guests have come to expect. Professional cleaning? Check. Friendly, trained staff? Check. An understanding of how much guests value connectivity? Double check. Plus, hostels provide a rare opportunity to make lasting memories with both locals and travelers from all over the world. (After all, a fellow backpacker from across the globe is just as exotic as a local host.) 

But that’s not the whole story. There is another key aspect of authenticity: Guests today crave a new experience (not to mention the photos to prove it). For many people, the purpose of travel is no longer to relax and refresh. Instead, it’s to experience something new. To come home with an unforgettable story. (Or maybe it’s through these novel experiences that today’s travelers relax and refresh.) Hostels and their local networks are poised for success. In fact, today’s hostel travelers seem to be more willing than ever before to pay a higher overall price for a stay that includes free, built-in experiences. 

Clearly, hostels have a unique appeal to young travelers seeking authenticity. And there’s no doubt that these travelers are flocking to sites like Airbnb. In fact, Airbnb is already one of the top three booking sites for Millennial and Generation Z travelers looking for hostel accommodation. Here at FrontDesk Master, we’re happy to help hostels find success on this growing platform.