Joel Brandon-Bravo, UK managing director of Travelzoo, says that the potential market for solo travellers is huge, and needs to be embraced and provided for
At Travelzoo, we spend our time sourcing the best travel deals for all our members. That’s easier for some audiences than it is for others, and we’ve previously run high-profile campaigns to champion families who find it increasingly hard to discover affordable holidays during peak school holidays. What we’re also seeing, though, is regular queries and complaints from our members about higher prices for those travelling alone and calls to offer more solo travel deals.
For years, the stereotypical view of a solo traveller was the free-spirited, 20-something backpacker, time rich but cash poor. While travel companies are beginning to wake up to the fact that this is no longer the case, many solo travellers seem to feel more could be done. To dig deeper into the motivations and travel experiences of solo travellers, we surveyed 8,500 people in key markets.
We found that the typical modern-day solo traveller is female, 35-plus, likely married or in a relationship, but choosing to travel solo because they wanted to. An incredible 49 per cent of Brits said they have travelled solo at some point in their lives, and of those that hadn’t, over a quarter said they would consider it. That means three quarters of the population are open to solo travel – a huge audience of potential travellers for the industry to provide for.
What’s more, the data showed that once someone has travelled solo, they are more likely to do so again, in addition to regularly planned holidays with family and friends. Most respondents also said that they spent upwards of £500 per trip, and our industry partners have also indicated that more than 75 per cent of their solo travellers choose additional spending options such as upgrades and early access.
What about the barriers? Perhaps unsurprisingly, results revealed that safety was the top priority for solo travellers, while a significant number of respondents indicated that the single-person supplement was the number one reason keeping them from travelling solo. With almost three quarters of solo travellers choosing to book their accommodation in advance, and big-name hotels the top choice of all groups earning above £15k per year, there are clearly opportunities – but travel companies can also do more to reach this audience.
Despite these negatives, over a quarter of solo travellers said they were inspired to book a trip by seeing a great deal. That’s great news for travel providers and has pushed us to think more about what we can offer this growing market.
What we’d like to see is fewer ‘single supplements’, and companies thinking more about how they can position room rates for solo travellers as ‘solo discounts’, particularly in the off-peak seasons. This year we’re encouraging the travel industry to join us in marking ‘#SoloSeptember’. As a shoulder season month following the school holidays, it’s a great time to engage with solo travel as a positive concept and shift the focus from catering to those travelling alone, to harnessing the enthusiasm of solo travellers for great travel experiences.