Understanding the Solo Traveler

Solo traveling is a growing trend, making up approximately 18% of global bookings. Interest in solo travel has increased over the past five years, as shown in the Google Trends graph below, and according to Pinterest, searches for “solo travel” were up nearly 600% on the platform in 2018.

But people aren’t just dreaming about solo travel; bookings are on the rise as well. Hostelworld reported a 42% increase in solo bookings from 2015 to 2017, and comparison tool Hotelscan.com noticed a 170% increase for the number of travelers looking to book a room for one in a year.

What Motivates Solo Travelers?

The reason for solo travel can vary vastly among travelers. While some travelers may decide to book a solo trip because they don’t have travel companions, others may prefer traveling alone. Solo travelers can come from all walks of life and generations. In the case of group travel experiences such as tours and retreats, participants will often travel solo to their destination where they meet the rest of their group. Another notable audience to consider is business travelers, many of which travel alone. According to a survey by Allianz Global Assistance, 27.5% of Americans have traveled alone for business domestically.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on leisure solo travelers and how travel marketers can appeal to this segment. Whether a traveler is going solo by choice or circumstance, they tend to take two major factors into account when planning a trip–cost and safety. Solo travelers also value flexibility, convenience, and autonomy during their travels.

How to Reach Solo Travelers

Once marketers have gained a better understanding of the type of solo traveler that is right for their brand, they can begin to include this audience into their overall marketing strategy. Here are a few general tips and considerations for reaching solo travelers:

Leverage influencer marketing and social media: Social media apps such as Instagram play the role of travel guide for many millennial solo travelers. Travel bloggers have the power to inspire and influence their social media followers with their content on destinations, accommodations, activities, and more. According to a study by Facebook, 67% of travel enthusiasts on Instagram use the platform to look for inspiration for new travel destinations. To maximize reach on social media, marketers should consider launching a sponsored content campaign with influencers.

Provide last-minute offers and local recommendations: The majority of solo travelers will research their destination well in advance but won’t book tours and activities until they arrive. Because they value flexibility, these travelers may plan their days around the weather forecast, make plans with the people they meet along the way, or simply want to keep the itinerary open for spontaneous decisions. Marketers should keep this flexibility in mind with offers at various stages during the travel journey, not just during the planning phase. Furthermore, providing solo guests with a list of restaurant recommendations or local tours and activities for their stay will go a long way in earning their favor and trust.

Optimize the mobile booking experience: Solo travelers rely heavily on their mobile devices in destination to research things to do, navigate a city with Google Maps, or keep in touch with friends and family. Since planning a trip can be an ongoing process for solo travelers, they are likely to book flights, hotels, or tours from a mobile device. Travel brands should direct these users to a mobile-friendly booking page, which can improve conversion rate by 22% compared to a desktop site. Because safety is a top-priority for solo travelers, these mobile websites should look professional, highlight recent guest reviews, mention any safety standards or certifications, and have a smooth-booking process.

Highlight authentic experiences: Most solo travelers are not looking for the typical tourist attractions, but are instead seeking to connect with their destination in a meaningful way and engage with the local culture. Travel marketers should keep this in mind when selecting images and writing copy for advertisements and websites, emphasizing experiences that are local and immersive.

As we’ve seen, solo travelers are a distinct, growing segment that should be treated with a personalized approach. By understanding the way they think and travel, marketers can better reach this group that holds huge potential.

Marketing , Travel