How to attract the luxury solo traveller
From seeking some peace and quiet to simply not having the patience to wait for a travel companion in a world of instant gratification, the rise of solo travel has seen consumers demanding more choice and less penalties for travelling by themselves from accommodation operators. Custard’s Charlotte Winterbourne shares her top tips and industry trends to aid the development of your proposition to attract this growing market.
Understand your audience
To truly understand your customer, you must know what drives them to make a purchase. For example, women are considerately more likely to travel alone than men (Unique Home Stays, 2017), therefore creating a product that specifically targets them will reap rewards. Luxury hotel Dukes London has created a ‘Duchess Room Service’ programme specifically catering to women travelling alone, offering female room attendants for room service, female amenities in the bathroom and more recently introducing complimentary blow-dries.
Over three quarters of people travel alone to be able to experience a destination uncompromised by others (ABTA Holiday Habits report, 2018), resulting in less time spent in their hotel room as they look to explore everything the local area has to offer. Therefore, placing a focus on what is on offer at your destination prior to booking completion through channels such as social media or on retargeting advertising, will help to convert solo holiday planners into guests.
Finally, solo trips tend to take place during the off-peak season according to last-minute holiday platform HolidayPirates, presenting the opportunity to actively target solo travellers and sell rooms during quieter periods of the year.
Capitalise on the wellbeing movement
Wellbeing continues to be at the forefront of hospitality trends but consider providing a twist on the standard yoga and mindfulness packages.
US hotel superbrand Kimpton recently introduced an immersive campaign with its ‘Room 301’ concept, encouraging guests to self-reflect and enjoy more personal experiences with in-room activities such as painting their most secret confession on the wall or describing the most defining moment of their lives in the ‘Guestbook 2.0’.
Kathleen Reidenbach, Chief Commercial Officer of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants said: “The campaign is grounded in the idea that in our world of rapid innovation and technology, travellers are actually craving more authentic connection, more personal experiences, more surprises and more humanity, which is great for solo travellers.”
Offer exhilarating experiences
Adventure travel is another key segment of the solo travel industry, providing less seclusion than a trip to the spa and opportunities to build friendships through teambuilding and comradeship. With Mintel finding that 25% of solo travellers have chosen a holiday to engage in a hobby (Solo Holidays Report, 2018), creating special activities packages will appeal to those looking to interact with those who share the same interests.
Solo travel operator Just You has also seen significant interest in its more adventurous trips, with “experience-led and active holidays proving some of our best sellers,” states Alistair Campbell, managing director.
Create opportunities to connect
Creating spaces for solo guests to connect with each other and come out of their rooms can also enhance solo stays. Concepts such as Holiday Inn’s Open Lobby developments provide an accessible space for guests to meet and relax with board games and a variety of seating layouts to promote communication.
Rafael Intriago Rodriguez, director of sales at Holiday Inn London Wembley, said: “Having an Open Lobby brings a modern and warmer feeling to a hotel – but more importantly, it allows guests to connect with each other by offering a much more pleasant place to be – a ‘home from home’ for guests. This is particularly appreciated by solo travellers, and the feedback we have had at Holiday Inn Wembley has been amazing.”
Holding events in these spaces further appeals to the single traveller, offering them a multitude of choices to socialise if they feel lonely. Dayna Castano, corporate director of marketing for Arlo Hotels, says: "We have daily programming, ranging from mixology classes, fitness offerings and live music, to our sustainability-focused 'pARLOur Talks' and movie screenings. I think it's easy for solo travellers to feel like they've found a community and home base at Arlo."
Take the intimidation out of solo dining
Eating by oneself can sometimes be a little daunting, so providing the option to eat at the bar, order room service or even having a group table in your restaurant removes the intimidation out of dining alone. “A lot of people want to go away on their own and like to meet people on their travels and we love when guests get chatting in the bar and share a drink together. We also offer for guests to dine at a banquet table so they can choose to join fellow travellers for a meal,” says Julia Davies, co-owner of The Cottage in the Wood, Malvern.
If your hotel doesn’t offer full-service dining, partnering with local eateries to promote those that suit solo diners’ needs could be a mutually-beneficial collaboration, and making these suggestions easily-accessible through in-room promotion and tailored guides will further enhance your guests’ experience.
The bugbear of all single guests, single supplements, often prevent soloists from choosing hotels due to the premium they pay for visiting by themselves (Mintel Solo Holidays report, 2018). Accommodation suppliers that offer a reduced rate for single guests or additional benefits to justify the premium cost have a higher chance of resonating with the single traveller.