How Hotels Can Capitalize on the Boom in Solo TravelBy Steffan Berelowitz - VP of Digital Platforms at Travel Tripper and Pegasus Solutions
How Hotels Can Capitalize on the Boom in Solo Travel | By Steffan Berelowitz
While taking a vacation alone once carried a certain stigma, the popularity of traveling solo is now well and truly on the rise.
A recent travel report by Pinterest found that the number of people who are going independent as solo adventures is up by 593%. And Hostelworld has seen a 42% increase in the number of solo bookings between 2015 and 2017.
Solo travel is also happening across generations. A report by Resonance Consultancy found that 25% of US Millennials plan to take a trip alone in the next 12 to 24 months. While a recent study by Booking.com discovered that 40% of global Baby Boomers have taken a solo trip in the last year.
There's also been a dramatic rise in solo female travel. Between 2016 and 2017, searches for the term "solo female travel" increased by 50%.
As more and more people choose to travel alone, how can hotels capitalize on this shift in behavior to drive more bookings? Here are five top tips to bear in mind.
1. Find out why they're coming
First and foremost, you need to reach out to your guests to identify if they're traveling alone. Once this has been established, try to find out the motivations for their trip.
Are they seeking solitude and a rare opportunity to recharge the batteries? Or are they eager to explore, meet new people, and throw themselves into new experiences? You can easily find this information out with pre-stay emails or questionnaires using hotel-specific survey tools.
Any subsequent offers, activities, and the experience you provide can then be personalized. For instance, those seeking privacy might appreciate a more discrete service and a room in a quieter part of your hotel. While those looking to mingle may prefer a room near social spaces, and being reminded about activities and events of potential interest. The more you learn, the more tailored you can make each experience.
2. Sell your social scene
While some solo travelers take a trip for privacy and relaxation, the majority want to meet other guests and like-minded explorers. That's why your destination needs to sound like a buzzing place where there are endless opportunities to socialize.
One way to do that is by creating a jam-packed events calendar on your hotel website. To get a quick overview of upcoming events worth promoting, check out local Meetups in your neighborhood, or click the Events tab in Facebook.
Bear in mind that some solo travelers may want to socialize in smaller groups, so make sure you highlight more intimate, low-key events, too. Others will also prefer connecting with locals than fellow guests, so it's worth recommending neighborhood cafes, parks, farmers' markets, and meeting spots where it's easy to strike up conversations.
Evenings can be particularly lonely for those traveling alone, and many will appreciate suggestions on your nightlife and dining scene. At The Capital Hotel in London, guests receive a list of local restaurants that are especially well-suited to solo travelers.
3. Host your own social events
Social gatherings, group-based workshops, and unique tours hosted by your hotel can also make it easier for solo travelers to make new friends at your property. Pool parties, wine and cheese evenings, and open-air film screenings are relatively easy to host and offer the perfect setting for fellow guests to strike up conversation.
However, a lot of solo travelers are curious by nature and often see travel as a chance for self-development and learning new skills. Cooking classes, jewelry making, pottery courses, and floral workshops are all the rage right now as hotels such as Marriott cater to the trend of transformational travel.
Social events can also take place beyond your property. Hosting your own walking tours or running clubs are ideal ways for active guests to make friends while exploring your destination. At London's Hotel 41, members of staff even act as 'sports buddies' so that solo guests always have someone to exercise with.
4. Create communal spaces
Hotels with buzzing communal spaces are growing in popularity, and they're especially appealing to socially minded solos. At The Asbury Hotel in New Jersey, a ground-floor recreation room comes with ping pong tables, pinball, board games, and a communal table to encourage guests to mingle over meals.
As work and pleasure become more common (as discussed in our recent bleisure travel post), hotels are also designing co-working spaces to let digital nomads chat while they work. While your own hotel might not have an entire room to spare, you could always create a cosy co-working nook in your lobby, cafe, or bar area.
By fostering a communal atmosphere and providing frequent opportunities to socialize, you'll instantly reassure anyone traveling alone that your hotel is a place where they'll be surrounded by company whenever they wish to find it.
5. Make them feel safe
Safety is a priority for a lot of people who travel solo. Especially among female travelers. A recent survey of 400 US women found that the majority of women feel uncomfortable or unsafe traveling solo.
Survey respondents said that when choosing their accommodation, a 24/7 manned reception desk and secure on-site parking were the most important security features (50% rated each very or extremely important). Other priorities included staying on floors with guest access only (41%), and having the door to their room located inside the hotel or facing away from the road if outside (33%).
To offer reassurance to those traveling alone, make sure your marketing and hotel website clearly promote your safety and security features. Where possible, be flexible over room options that make guests feel safer. To go the extra mile, you could even offer a complimentary airport transfer to any solo travelers arriving off a late flight.
These kinds of gestures will give confidence to hesitant travelers, and undoubtedly filter through to their online reviews. Since a lot of solo travelers will be looking for reassurance from the feedback of your past guests, any extra effort you make will help bolster your reputation.
Catering to solo travelers
The solo travel market is booming right now, and people from all walks of life, and for all kinds of reasons, are vacationing alone.
Whether your solo guests are single, taking an independent adventure from a spouse, looking to meet new people, or seeking alone time to recharge the batteries, understanding their motivations for travel is crucial to creating a memorable experience.
By promoting your destination's best social spots, hosting your own group-based activities, designing communal spaces where possible, and prioritizing safety, your hotel will become a truly attractive destination for anyone exploring the world on a single adventure.
Steffan is the VP of Digital Platforms at Travel Tripper and Pegasus Solutions where he oversees the website and digital marketing services for hotel customers. A pioneer in all things web and mobile, Steffan has spent more than 20 years in online services and technology. He was formerly founder of Bluetrain.io, a website platform acquired by Travel Tripper in 2015. Prior to Bluetrain.io, Steffan founded Bit Group, one of Boston's top 10 digital web agencies, implementing more than 350 web sites for 150 companies including Cisco, Dell, EMC, two divisions of GE, as well as other prominent B2C organizations.
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