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On September 27 to 28, nearly 1,000 of the travel industry’s brightest and best will gather in New York City for the third annual Skift Global Forum, the largest creative business gathering in the global travel industry. In only two short years it has become what media, speakers, and attendees have called the “TED Talks of travel.”
This year’s event at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center will feature speakers including the CEOs of Marriott International, Carnival Corp., Expedia, TripAdvisor, Etihad Aviation Group, Club Med, and many more.
The following is part of a series of posts highlighting some of the speakers touching on big-picture issues that may begin in travel, but also impact businesses and industries beyond the sector.
Generator Hostels is redefining the hostel guest experience throughout Europe for a new generation of travelers seeking modern design, hip programming, single and shared room options, and an affordable price in high-demand urban centers.
That demand is driving the rise of the “lifestyle hostel” segment for people who want the global communal spirit inherent in the hostel model, as well as a great local restaurant and bar scene with live DJs that’s more typical of a trendy neighborhood lifestyle hotel.
“I think Generator, as well as companies like Freehand and Mama Shelter, are creating a new asset class,” said Fredrik Korallus, CEO of Generator Hostels, who will be speaking at this year’s Skift Global Forum. “We’re focusing much more on the experience in the hostel and in the community for a new type of guest we call a ‘seeker,’ by investing heavily in design, food, fashion, culture, and web content.”
Korallus explained that seekers are people who want to explore a destination on their own terms, as either couples or singles. Moreover, they’re often older than traditional hostel guests from the past. At Generator, the average guest age today is 24.
“That’s college years, or post-graduate, which means these are often working people,” Korallus said. “Five years ago the number was somewhere between 18-20, so we see that as quite a surprising jump in just a few years.”
The availability of single-bed hostel rooms at Generator is one of the factors behind the rise in the average age. About 30 percent of the company’s room stock is single, although that changes from market to market, and there are really no other branded companies that offer a similar hybrid hostel/hotel design model like that.
Considering that the urban cores in cities such as London, Paris, Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome and others are becoming more expensive every year, to the point of pricing themselves out of their Millennial-age markets, the time is ripe for this new class of hospitality product.
The single rooms provide the privacy of a traditional hotel, which many post-college people tend to appreciate more as they get older. At the same time, the wide mix of youthful international guests milling among all of the different public spaces throughout the hostels provides a spontaneous energy that you can’t find in most hotels.
Another reason why Generator is attracting a wider range of ages among its clientele, the properties all feature restaurants and bars that were designed and built to attract locals, especially later in the night. More than a few of the Generator restaurants morph into club-like lounges after the sun goes down.
Korallus said that a major part of the Generator guest experience relies on the opportunity to meet area residents in a casual, upbeat and stylish environment, often with live DJs, bands, and/or fashion shows providing a heightened lifestyle vibe.
The hostel of the future is a very social experience, both on- and offline, which is critical for any lifestyle brand.
“We want Generator to be full of locals, because seekers don’t want to just meet people like themselves,” he said. “That’s why we have a higher ratio of chill-out places and social spaces than any hotel. In a hostel, you’re only in the room as long as you need, so it’s important to have a place with nice music and lighting where you can socialize.”
As Generator continues to grow, the brand is now beginning to attract the interest of corporate groups in the media, tech, music, fashion, food, and arts industries, who are seeking creative venues for their special events.
Some of the properties, such as Generator Stockholm that just opened, were designed with larger public areas that can convert easily into private function spaces to host group events. That’s further spurring the company’s shift into a lifestyle brand.
“Generator Hostels is honored to be called a lifestyle brand, like a Hoxton, or Ace, or 25hours Hotels,” Korallus said. “That’s continuing to support our growth heading into 2017 when we expect to open new hostels in Madrid and Miami.”