The hostel segment has emerged as a key component in the Indian hospitality sector. It offers a cheaper alternative to hotels and homestays. It takes around Rs. 1200 - Rs. 2000 to book an average hotel or a homestay. But a hostel accommodation can offer a 12-hour stay at Rs. 500 - Rs. 600 in shared rooms. However, this segment is youth-focused.
Pallavi Agarwal, Co-Founder, goStops, a hostel chain in India, told BE, “The globalisation process and a boom in media and social media have changed the aspirations of today’s youth. They are choosing safety and hygiene, while giving equal importance to a fun-loving place. The young generation now is travelling more than before. Youths nowadays are joining jobs early. This is helping them to have access to a considerable disposable income, which they are spending on travel.”
The slowing economy in India was expected to affect the overall hospitality sector negatively but it has acted otherwise for the hostel industry. Agarwal said, “The budget crunch is pushing the youths toward hostels, which are cheaper.”
Attracting foreign footfalls was also a major concern of goStops initially. But the situation has changed. Agarwal said, “In India we are expecting to have 367 million youths by 2021 and 170 million urban youths approximately. Compared to that, the foreign footfall in India has been 17 million during 2019. Only less than 12 million foreign travellers are our target consumers. So the Indian youth have gradually become the driving force of hostels across India.” Talking about perks, the guests at a hostel can either stay in a normal dormitory - breaking the gender taboo - sharing the room with anyone or they can prefer to stay with their same gender simply by choosing the particular dormitory allotted to them.
Hostels have a very lively social area that include a gaming zone, working zone, television, home theatre, projector, cafe, and the guests can access these facilities 24x7. Additionally, hostel promoters are trying to float practices and behaviours of sharing things and services with others. While talking about the social life at goStops, Agarwal said, “We are also developing a mobile application for goStops. It will be accessible as a social media tool for the guests to communicate with each other. We will also enable a facility to report grievances.”
Apart from gaining popularity among young tourists, the industry is also finding traction from job seekers and low income individuals travelling to cities. Agarwal said, “Though Noida and Gurgaon are not popularly known as tourism destinations, we are opening hostels there, hoping to attract more young business travellers.”