The Rise in Solo Travel: How and Why You Should Encourage It
Ted Turner, founder of Cable News Network, once said that ‘to be happy in this world, first you need a cell phone and then you need an airplane.’ An increasing amount of people seem to be living through this quote, which fails to mention anything of ‘friends’ or ‘company’. In fact, Hostelworld has stated that there has been a 42% increase in solo traveler bookings over the past two years. Why? We no longer need to rely on those who can read maps, speak the language or know the best spots. Google maps, Google translate, and Google search suffice. People are more informed and more independent, so they are more confident about exploring the world on their own. Take advantage of this travel trend, and entice the solo traveler to your hotel today!
Get Rid of Your Single Supplement
According to Sojern, from January to March 64% of long haul and 59% of short haul travelers went solo. In other words, the majority of those looking for a room, are looking for a single one. This means that if your hotel charges a ‘single supplement’, it is losing out on the majority of business.
You may view singletons as less profitable for your hotel, as only one person will spend money at the restaurant bar, or hotel facilities. However, according to HolidayPirates, the vast majority of solo bookings are off-season, with less than 1% travelling in July or August. You therefore should not be penalising solo travelers with an extra cost for enjoying their own company, but rewarding (and enticing) them with a discounted package for filling your rooms during these off-season periods!
Solo travelers, in particular those that are female, are undeniably a lot more vulnerable, and your hotel must acknowledge this. According to Mower’s survey of 400 U.S women, nearly two-thirds of female travelers research the safety of their destination before they go. Encourage reviews from previous solo female travelers to give others a better idea of what to expect. Furthermore, post a blog article on your website about the safest parts of your hotel’s location and local knowledge of where is best for those travelling alone. This will protect them from the danger of misinformation or wandering into an unsafe area.
The survey also showed that 24/7 presence at the reception desk and secure on-site parking are the most important security features, with 50% of women rating each either very or extremely important. Other security features that are important to female travelers on their own, are staying on floors with access restricted to guests only. Many hotels are adopting security systems that only allow lift and facility access once the guests room key card has been scanned.
Arriving in a new country is daunting, even more so when you are on your own, with no knowledge of the local transit system. Organise transport to and from the airport for your solo guests safety and help them to understand the city transport system. This can be from a pre-stay email with information on how to get around, how much transport fares are, how they are paid, and the basic routes to take. Furthermore, provide your guests with your hotel’s business card so they can easily communicate where they want to go to taxi drivers.
If your hotel is located in the city centre, be sure to promote this to solo travelers. A convenient, central location means less need for taxis and public transport. This is important for their own security and peace of mind.
Waking up when you please, not having to consider anyone’s dietary issues and only visiting the attractions that actually appeal to you are a few of the many perks that come with traveling alone. However, for those embarking on a solo trip for the first time, being your own company can be a rocky experience. Loneliness is a very common obstacle that those seeking a self-indulgent trip face, so your hotel should prepare for this. Host BBQ evenings, quiz nights and cocktail hours to help your guests to mingle. Even something as simple as background music playing in your hotel’s communal areas will help give these areas a more casual and welcoming feel.
Furthermore, many people struggle with eating on their own. So many, in fact, that it has been given a term. Solomangarephobia is the fear of eating alone in public. Have seats at the bar and have newspapers available to grab with breakfast to calm the angst of those who feel uncomfortable at meal times. You could also offer cooking classes or themed dinners to provide options other than eating on their own for your solo travelers.
The Healthy Holiday Company, a company which organises health, fitness and wellness focused holidays, reported that 65% of its travelers go alone.
This health and wellness aspect is easily attainable for your hotel. Consider offering health inspired menus alongside your regular menus, such as vegan and gluten-free options. Furthermore, think about fitness or yoga classes that you can hold in your hotel or its surroundings. Alternatively you could partner up with classes already happening in your area, which is a great way of cross-selling.
With such a significant increase in bookings throughout recent years, the solo travel market is not one to be overlooked. Remember: Those who like to travel solo like to do so when others don’t. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your hotel entices those who want to travel alone and in turn, see a lift in room bookings during those off-peak periods.