As the industry juggles to keep up with the ever-evolving myriad of traveller trends and preferences, perhaps one of the most interesting (and often overlooked) trends remains the rise and influence of the solo traveller.
Named as one of the top 10 travel trends for 2018 according to Intrepid Travel, solo travel is quickly becoming a fast-growing segment with undoubtable opportunity. To help unravel the solo phenomena, we’ve uncovered the latest data and insights from around the globe, as well as taking a look into what we can expect to see next.
Diving into the data
Between January 2015 and December 2017, Google searches for “solo travel” and “travel alone” were at the highest they’ve ever been according to Solo Traveler, marking a significant 40% increase. Leaders in the segment, Intrepid, noted that more than half its guests – about 75,000 people a year – were travelling alone, while TravelWeekly research revealed that 27% of Australians would go on a local holiday alone, and 58 per cent have already done it.
Furthermore, a 2017 MMGY Global survey shows that 37% of millennial respondents “intend to take at least one overnight leisure trip alone during the next six months.” That’s roughly 1 in 4 people and a figure that’s up 5% from a year ago, 8% from two years ago – and a much sharper rise than older generations.
So who exactly is our solo traveller? Research from Solo Traveler World conducted a series of polls, married with Google Analytics, to reveal the majority of their readers fell into the Millennial or Boomer categories, with an estimated gender split of 75% women and 25% men. Vice President of Worldwide Product for Country Walkers & CW Safaris recently said: “Women are becoming more financially independent and thus more apt to travel; you could argue that this also gives women more confidence to pursue more adventurous travel.”
What can we expect to see next?
As these savvy, adventure-driven travellers show significant interest in solo adventures, Intrepid Travel says we can expect to see travel companies launch catered products to not only accommodate, but celebrate, the solo traveller. Here’s our top picks:
- Customised itineraries: leading companies such as Intrepid and St Giles Hotels have launched dedicated solo-travel programs, featuring everything from Classic Peru tours to Mexican food adventures, and even restaurant guides for dining alone.
- Solo-destination guides: 2018 saw the release of Lonely Planet’s new guide, The Solo Travel Handbook, and we can expect to see customised itineraries from the recently announced Beyond by Airbnb experiences, as well as bespoke hotel guides and solo tours.
- Solo-friendly booking: Lonely Planet recently revealed that solo travellers face higher costs than those travelling with family or friends, “including an average of nearly 20 per cent on travel insurance and over 50 per cent on accommodation” Source. Transat is one company responding, expanding its Solo Collection in 2018 and waiving the single supplement fees, as well as creating communal tables for shared meals to encourage and accommodate cruise-goers.
- Emphasis on safety: with the vast majority of solo traveller being female, companies such as Snowmass Bike Park has five female bike pros on staff to offer female guides, while Big Five Tours and Expeditionshires women guides for their Cairo, Egypt, and Delhi, India tours. We can expect to see further changes as companies combat safety concerns and accommodate the solo power woman.
By Nicole Crowley