Is there an ideal hotel guest? I believe that the Korean visitor comes close to how an ideal guest should be; this is born out of Korea’s national cultural traits and intrinsic values. Having worked, travelled and spent leisure time with a whole host of Koreans for well over a decade, I feel I am in a pretty strong position to hold an opinion about their general travel patterns.
In my experience they tend to be neat and tidy, generally quiet, polite and thoughtful, unlikely to cause damage or inconvenience during their stay and are very keen on experiencing the cultural fabric of the destination they arrive in, in short they are a very desirable guests. The stats suggest more Koreans are travelling overseas with a strong economy to support this growing trend (at the recent Hostelworld Conference 2015 Asian tourism was highlighted as showing impressive growth).
As a promoter of cultural diversity, my opinion is a personal assumption based on experience. In fact there is no real definitive answer and certainly no well researched data I have undertaken, but there does seem to be others holding a similar view. Recently the ‘Amistat Beach Hostel Barcelona’ (www.amistatbeachhostel.com) contacted me to see if they could connect with this market; it is not every day that individual properties and especially hostels come through looking for such information, so I asked why they were specifically interested in the Korean market.
The answer was that the hostel had noticed consistent growth from Asia and sighted that their Korean guests ‘are one of the best we have dealt with’ and further commented that they ‘were very respectful people considerate of others, the hostel and the city they are visiting’. The strength of North Asian economies, the greater availability of flights between Seoul and Barcelona and the spread of “Hallyu” (a generic name for the wave of contemporary Korean popular culture) around the globe has all conspired to create a cocktail which the ‘Armistat’ metaphorically wishes to sample.
In addition to this, a TV programme watched by many millions of Koreans called ‘Ggot Boda Halbe’ (Grandparents are better than flowers) has contributed to a huge spike in South Koreans visiting Spain for culture filled walking tours. The series follows in the footsteps of four elderly Korean actors as they walk around the Iberian cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Segovia and Ronda. The programme is not just attracting a particular age bracket, but linking into the aspirations of young, trendy and creative Koreans looking to lap up Europe’s treasure trove of history and culture. The power of TV cannot be under estimated as a trigger to influence travel decisions.
The Amistat Beach Hostel’s sleek new design, great links to the city’s cultural sites and location within a non-touristic, authentic Catalan neighbourhood seems to reflect the wishes of a new breed of Korean traveller heading their way.