Tour Operators Rework Strategies to Attract Growing Solo Traveler Market

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Although solo travelers have long been an important market for tour operators, they have not had specific strategies to increase bookings with this group. But the pandemic is forcing tour operators to reevaluate their tactics, including finding ways to make solo travel cheaper.

Rashaad Jordan

Solo travel is set for a major boom this year as one in four travelers plan to venture solo in the next six monthsthat drives travel agencies start a business to make their offers more attractive to the lucrative market.

Tour operators are among the companies looking to attract more solo travellers, but what steps are they taking to attract even more customers from a group they have long hosted on their travels?

They want to launch special offers adapted to the segment and waive or reduce costs Single Supplement to attract more customers from a market that was growing before the pandemic. Google searches for solo travel increased 131% between 2016 and 2019.

“Over the past four years, more and more, we’ve seen that there’s a demand for people traveling alone,” said Melissa DaSilva, U.S. president of Tours in Trafalgarone of the brands affiliated with the travel company.

“(Also), what we were hearing from our business partners, the travel agents, was that they were seeing high demand, and they were telling us that we didn’t have the products to meet their needs.”

Solo travelers made up only 6-8% of pre-pandemic guests on trips organized by TTC brands such as Trafalgar, Insight Holidays and cost saving, all of which are geared towards an older demographic. In contrast, 55% of customers of TTC’s Contiki youth brand are solo travelers.

While DaSilva said people on Contiki trips are generally willing to share a room with another solo traveler, that’s not usually the case for customers on organized trips through other TTC brands. TTC therefore approached the hotels it works with to arrange more rooms for solo travelers and reduced its one-time surcharge by an average of 45-55% in January for all its brands except Contiki. She added that the process of concluding new contracts with all the hotels where her customers stay took nine months.

So, has the attractive single supplement made a difference to customers? DaSilva acknowledged that it was unable to provide statistics showing an increase in bookings. She said the company is getting positive feedback from potential customers.

But Explore around the world went even further than the TTC brands earlier this year. The company, boosted by a 27% increase in solo bookings since 2019, launched its Go solo and save in February, which offered potential customers free single supplements on hundreds of departures, while most others were half off. Explore estimates that customers who booked trips during the sale were able to save up to $850.

Meanwhile, recent trends have pushed G Adventures‘ to modify the offers to attract solo travellers. “What we’ve seen post-pandemic is that more people are willing to spend a little more to get that privacy of their own bedroom, especially when it’s affordable,” said VP of Product Yves. Marceau.

While Marceau noted that G Adventures has always had a high number of solo travelers, the biggest shift in solo travelers he’s seen in recent years is their willingness to purchase rooms for themselves. G Adventures previously offered solo travelers the option of sharing a room with a person of the same gender and giving them a single room at no additional cost if there was no suitable match.

But as he recognized the company needed to go beyond reducing the single supplement on all of its tours – G Adventures had to book more single rooms for travellers, which it did on its Galapagos Islands Cruises. Since most ships on the Galápagos — due to a 16-passenger maximum — come with eight cabins, Marceau said solo travelers wanting a cabin to themselves are forced to pay double the price. For example, G Adventures has had 10 cabins built on its Reina Silvia Voyager ship that takes guests on its Galapagos Islands cruises, so solo travelers can get a room for themselves at a discounted rate.

However, Marceau thinks attracting more requires more than making travel more affordable, citing seeing solo travelers sometimes feel left out on trips organized by a company he once worked for, as couples often date each other. . He said tour operators need to develop a welcoming culture for all their guests.

“Everything we do while traveling is aimed at creating an inclusive atmosphere for those traveling alone, so they don’t feel like they’re alone at any time.”