YHA New Zealand has seen a significant increase in New Zealand guests across its network over the past four months as more and more come to understand and appreciate the benefits of hostel stays.
With a 25 percent increase in the number of New Zealanders staying in the hostels, many are finding the affordable accommodation ideal for their active and family holidays. Over 10,000 Kiwis have stayed with YHA since July compared to 8,000 last year and they are staying on average one night longer each time, which means New Zealander guest nights are up by 60 percent overall.
"We’ve always positioned ourselves as a style of travel as opposed to a budget decision for holidaymakers. Our research indicates that our domestic guests are mostly middle to high-income professionals who just want to relax in an unpretentious but clean and high-quality environment", said Chief Executive, Mark Wells.
The holidays are more about getting out and enjoying the outdoors and/or spending time with family or a small group of friends. The quality facilities, communal lounges and well-resourced, large communal kitchens make it easy to keep the accommodation and dining budgets low so time and budget can be spent experiencing all New Zealand has to offer.
"Our quality ratings remain high and we’re getting a lot of 'pleasantly surprised' commentary from new Kiwi travellers, which we are obviously thrilled about."
YHA is entering the summer season with a '12 days of giveaways' promotion offering accommodation and activity prizes throughout New Zealand.
"We understand that people don’t travel to stay in a hostel. They travel to experience new things, see new places and learn new things. Our job is to make that easy and affordable. Our '12 days of giveaways' is intended to communicate many of the awesome ways to experience our country. Put bluntly, we want people to get out, do more and see more when they stay with us. We are simply there to facilitate that activity, and are not the endpoint in itself."
Since the borders have closed, YHA has adapted its product offering to include privatisation of dorm rooms so families can easily block out an entire dorm for their use, decreased its Gold (lifetime) YHA membership price to encourage more New Zealanders to join and benefit from direct booking discounts, and included local deals specifically targeting those who live near their local hostel but still want a night away from home.
Keeping all of the YHA hostel locations open has been a priority, even though some locations have desperately low numbers. The objective has been to support local activities and attractions.
"In the smaller more remote locations, if there’s nowhere to stay then it makes it even harder to attract visitors to do things."
Despite the strong domestic showing, YHA has experienced a 60 percent drop in revenue over winter with an expectation of a more severe year on year decline through summer; historically, occupancy levels have been close to 100 percent through to April but are anticipated to be 35 percent this summer.