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Student Travellers (Part 1) – What do they really want?

We need a better understanding of student travellers in order to reap the rewards from this growing market. They’re not even who we think they are.

We need a better understanding of student travellers in order to reap the rewards from this growing market. They’re not even who we think they are.

When people think of Student travellers, they often think the 18-24 market, fresh out of high school/undergraduate that’s set for backpacking and parties. However, the student traveller has changed, they are no longer limited by that parameter. Both younger and older individuals make up the range.

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The college-based traveller is, in fact, a savvy and goal-oriented consumer. Their average length of stay in a given destination is on the increase, and what they spend, in-destination, is also on the rise.

With student travellers accounting for 20% of all international arrivals, they’re driving a market that offers great returns for travel industry verticals. These rewards however, are only within reach if brands commit to the opportunities the student traveller represents. Student travel not only encompasses tourism, but study, work, and volunteer efforts.

 

Beyond backpacks and parties

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Modern Student Travellers are not just getting on a plane to get sh*tfaced in a tropical island anymore. They are crossing borders for language immersion, and taking jobs and internships while abroad. The student traveller has become increasingly clear on what they want from their trip experiences.

“I wanted to get to know the locals and improve my Portuguese. This was most likely not going to happen at some all-you-can-drink-event.”

Julika Sarah, a German art historian and medievalist who blogged about her experiences as a student traveller in Portugal

These student travellers come from all over the world but there is an increasing market coming from Asia.

The student traveller is looking for a specific kind of immersion — one that is about making a kind of (temporary) home within the culture they’ve chosen to experience.

At the start of September, 2014, Skift partnered with StudentUniverse to ask educational travellers what they wanted out of their trips, regarding the environment they lived in and about ideal experiences.

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We should start thinking about the student traveller as an experience conscious consumer, they have a well-rounded set of options while travelling. It’s not all about the parties anymore. They want real experiences.

Do you think there are sufficient options available for student travellers out there that meet their needs?