As the travel industry continues to grow, tour operators are tapping into previously undiscovered territory. Whether it’s an international trip or tours around their native country, tourism businesses are always on the lookout for new experiences to offer and new customers to target.
Recent stats provided by both commercial and non-commercial organizations show that solo traveling is on the rise. According to Adventure Travel Trade Association’s (ATTA)(opens in a new tab) report, the highest level of demand among clients is for “long haul/overseas” trips, along with “environmentally sustainable”, “family/multi-generational”, and “solo traveler” trips. What’s more interesting is that over 80% of millennial travelers are going solo. This is a major new trend and one that tour operators can harness to attract a new customer base. In fact, the trend indicates how the travel industry is evolving and could pave the way for the future of a new kind of travel experience.
Still not convinced the solo traveler is your new customer? Below we’ve outlined tips to show how tour businesses can meet the needs of this new type of tourist.
Solo travelers want to relax
Relaxation comes in first for reasons to travel alone. As shown in Agoda’s “Solo Travel Trends 2018”(opens in a new tab) survey, most travelers choose to travel solo for an opportunity to unwind after a period of hard work or study. Almost 61% of all surveyed have decided to travel alone for that very reason, compared to 48% who chose to travel with friends. Among other top motivators, 52% of solo travelers wanted to escape the daily routine and 45% to explore new cultures.
Relaxation can mean different things to different travelers and each group will have their preferred methods of unwinding. Your central purpose as a tour operator is to craft an experience that meets this demand so that your guests feel satisfied with the tour operator they have chosen. Be sure that the tours you offer are solo traveler-friendly so that all of your guests feel that satisfaction.
Solo travelers explore without ties
A lot of tourists claim that traveling is an experience of self discovery. As shown in the infographic below, almost 59% of surveyed solo travelers choose to vacation alone because they do not want to wait for others on their adventure.
In addition to this, 36% of solo travelers opt for educational tours when traveling alone. Expanding on the trend of travel as a means of self development and personal improvement, a way to attract solo travelers could be through educational tours. This type of vacation not only enriches the visitor’s awareness of the selected country and traditions, it also provides the opportunity to learn a new skill – not to mention it taps into a growing demand for alternative travel experiences.
What’s more, traveling solo gives you the freedom to choose the dates that work best for you. There’s no need to wait until the end of the school year or until your traveling partner has finished a big project at work. Because of this, solo travelers prefer going on vacation in the off season. Most travelers make this decision because demand, and of course prices, begin to drop at this time. As you can see from the stats below September and October are the most popular months to travel solo. Even university students are able to travel in the off season thanks to companies like EssayPro(opens in a new tab) that help them with any school work they might miss.
Solo travelers are budget-conscious
Once a tourist has decided to embark on a solo trip, their main priority is usually avoiding single supplement charges. For most of the surveyed travelers, the difficulty in finding single rooms without exorbitant single supplement charges can prove the most significant setback on a solo trip. However, with a growing demand for solo tours and experiences the travel industry should respond.
Tour operators can stand out from the crowd by finding solutions to this problem. When planning a solo tour for clients, offer more cost-effective options than the traditional two-person-to-a-room rate. Most hotels are ready to provide their regular customers (tour operators and agents) with a flexible waiving price system. For example, Adventure Canada(opens in a new tab) sets aside a minimum of 17 cabins on each Ocean Endeavour voyage where solo travelers can have the whole cabin to themselves without an extra charge.
Solo travelers feel safest with guides
Safety is a general concern for most tourists. In the broadest sense, safety here means that everything is organized properly and there won’t be any trouble with transfers, placements, or excursions. In the diagram below we can see that tourists rely on the tour operator’s authority when taking an escorted tour.
What lessons can we take from these stats? Ordinary tourists are a bit hesitant by their nature and tend to need reassurance that their trip will be safe and completely taken care of. When a solo traveler is involved, the need for safety reassurances increases. Don’t forget to compile a document with all of the trip details; this simple step will boost overall confidence among solo travelers.
What’s more, don’t forget to provide your customers with stable access to the internet. Find places with access or provide them with portable wireless stations. Sounds weird? It isn’t. Stats show(opens in a new tab) that “solo leisure travelers spend more time in front of their laptops and phones than any other traveler type – two hours a day (119 minutes), which compares to 15% more time than when travelers are with friends (100 minutes) and 26% more time than if they are with family (86 minutes)”. Generally speaking, society has a negative perception of screen time but travelers want to manage their time on their own. If they are eager to spend time online, the tour operator should accommodate this demand.
Solo traveling has many benefits, for both the traveler and travel business owner. To provide visitors with an outstanding proposal, tour operators should understand the behavior and motives of these tourists. Firstly, answer three crucial questions for solo travelers in their area: “Who are they? What do they want? When do they want it?”, then go through the above stats and prepare the tour of a lifetime.
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