Alone but not lonely: the rise and rise of the solo traveller
Solo travel is on the rise and luxury travellers are at the forefront. See how the industry is adapting to meet their needs.
The annual Skyscanner Travel Trends survey found that 38% of Australian travellers went it alone in 2018. Solo travel is one of the fastest growing sectors of the industry and more luxury travellers than ever are choosing the single life on the road.
“Going on holiday by yourself means you don’t have to compromise on your choice of destination, your itinerary or the activities you take part in,” says Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, the UK’s leading association of travel agents and tour operators. “Whether they’re single or just want some ’me time’, people now have an incredible choice of holidays and destinations to choose from and it has become so much easier to explore the world.”
Tom Marchant, the founder of luxury travel agent Black Tomato, agrees. “Solo travel has moved away from pre-conceived notions of the lonely and awkward. Clients are looking to step out for a moment and experience things at their own pace to gain a deep sense of place and focus on well-being or creative projects.”
The industry is making changes to attract this lucrative market. Many hotels and tour operators are doing away with the much-maligned single supplement. Some are now creating trips specifically for solo travellers. Abercrombie & Kent saw a 60% jump in solo travellers between 2013 and 2017, and a rise of 25% in 2017 alone. Small group tours provide travellers knowledge, experience and security, while at the same time giving them the freedom to explore in the way they want to.
It’s particularly popular with female travellers. According to Google, searches for ‘solo female travel’ rose 52% between 2016 and 2017. In 2019, Captain’s Choice put a ‘women only’ journey on its itinerary for the first time in the company’s 30-year history. “Our solo travellers are really important to us, so we continue to grow and adapt our product to meet this specific customer’s need,” says Lou Tandy, a director at Captain’s Choice, told the AFR.