Half of youth travel bookings take place between one and three weeks prior the date of the stay or the travel, according to a recent study conducted by the Safe Travel Accommodation for Youth (STAY) WYSE Association.

The trade body for the youth travel accommodation sector polled 2,231 Youth Travel Accommodation (YTA) firms in 100 markets around the world to gather information concerning booking trends, young travellers' behaviour and developments in the sector.

One of the key takeways from the survey is that 50% of bookings are now made between seven and 21 days prior the trip, which is an increase of 14 percentage points compared to findings from the association's previous survey. Around one in five youth travel bookings are made less than a week before the trip, while 22% of bookings are made between one and three months prior to travel, a decline from 33% in the earlier research. The booking window is broadly dependent on the length of the youngster's stay, with the findings suggesting that for a shorter stay there is a much shorter booking window.

Among the YTA operators taking part in the poll, 28% had either a mobile app or a mobile-optimised website and these respondents boasted the biggest share of bookings made via mobile devices. The research highlighted the fact that a third of respondents have built a presence on social media, with Facebook and Twitter emerging as the most popular social networks.

YTA operators' travellers of interest are people aged between 25 and 34, with this demographic accounting for 61% of the total. Ten percent of YTA operators target flashpackers aged over 35 among their customers, while business travellers constitute 11% of total travellers and group travellers represent 17% of the total.

Last year, global revenue per bed available stayed flat at €23.50 on average and the average bed occupancy rate remained the same at 59%.

The research also found that 29% of hostel bookings are now made through third party sites, such as Hostelworld and Hostelbookers. The first has established itself as the most significant hostel channel, while the latter, which was bought by Hostelworld, is rated among the top three most popular hostel websites. Booking.com is also picking up steam in the hostel segment of the market.

The study polled YTA operators globally between May and October last year. Businesses that took part in the survey accounted for 136,899 beds across 100 countries. Sixty two percent of the properties were located in cities, and 60% of participating respondents were hostels.