Going the extra mile

Off Broadway Travel’s Mark Beattie  explains how the human touch is essential to win over solo travellers

Independent travel is a growing sector of the market and one that we are active in pursuing. There are many reasons to do so.

In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of solo travellers approaching us looking for suggestions on where they can go on holiday, and what companies would be a safe bet to ensure they are looked after from start to finish.

A lot of these enquiries are from widows or widowers who were used to travelling several times a year with their partner. They may have been used a certain level of luxury on these trips. Despite the unfortunate nature of their position they have often been left with a substantial amount of money, allowing them to continue living the life they were used to before their partner passed away.

These solo travellers often put more emphasis on the trip itself and how well they will be looked after than they do on the budget. The question of cost, although still important, is secondary to ensuring that they will be looked after while they are away.

A good example of the kind of thing they expect is the VIP transfer service offered by Titan Travel, who collect clients from their home and drop them back to their front door after their trip. This provides clients with a feeling of security and reduces stress levels, because they don’t have to worry about getting to the airport to start their holiday.

Solo travellers are often older and may be apprehensive about travelling alone: the thought of meeting new people is a scary one for them. Group tours or packages designed for solo travellers give them a level of comfort, knowing that they will be with other like‑minded individuals who may also have lost a partner. These trips are a fantastic way for solo travellers to make friends, build new relationships and continue to enjoy their holidays as they previously did.

They key things to remember when selling to solo travellers is that they’re still human. A lot of people shy away from talking about previous holidays with their partner, or what happened to their partner, but if you talk to them like a human being, and empathise with their situation, they can become one of the easiest group of clients to deal with. They will have plenty of questions, which is understandable, but if you have patience, and go the extra mile to make sure they’re happy with their choices, they will quite often return year after year, because trust is much more important to them than saving £100 on their holiday by booking online.

A lot of solo travellers will often start with a holiday closer to home, either a short break in the UK or something in Europe, but as they go on more holidays they can become some of your most adventurous and outgoing clients.

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