Break away and travel solo

BON Blog - Travel Solo

In the world according to ME, Earth can be carved up into two categories of travellers: 1) Someone [like me] who thrives on travelling solo as it provides more freedom to pick up-and-go at any given moment and 2) People who just cannot bear the prospect of travelling alone; having to sit at a hotel breakfast table alone – basically people who simply thrive off travelling in groups and with others.

Now I wouldn’t hesitate about having a drink on my own at the bar or having dinner in the hotel restaurant alone whilst someone very close to me would rather order room service than be seen eating alone. I find that incredibly weird!

As noted in Hotels Magazine: “In the age of mindfulness, many have embraced the meditative value of spending time alone and venturing out into the big wide world unencumbered, interacting and making friends to whatever degree suits. In an effort to make solo travellers feel comfortable, barriers between hotel staff and guests are being lowered, interior design choices made to evoke a sense of homeliness and an informal atmosphere cultivated. This, along with a less stark divide between guests and locals encourages a feeling of hotel community.”

An independent traveller can be described as a person who embarks on a trip by themselves whether it be for business or pleasure, wanting to see the world but have no one to travel with or simply put they want to do what they want, when they want without having to run it by anyone else.

My personal experiences as a solo traveller have been nothing short of marvellous and to be honest, I quite prefer this especially for business trips as I personally don’t enjoy travelling in a group unless it’s with my family – then I’m a happy family man! I’m more flexible during my business trips and can bob and weave easily should I wish for a meeting to run longer and freely, or take in some more me-time. Nevertheless, I appreciate that it might not be for everyone.

Of late, we’re experiencing a fundamental rise in solo travel and like any globetrotter; they have a bucket list of activities to do on their trips. Just because they’re travelling alone, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily want to do everything by themselves. Some travellers like meeting others while on their trips and while this can be tricky during the COVID era, the idea of meeting other individuals is enticing and often we see them signing up for group activities with tour groups or nearby attractions.

In seeing the uptake in travel preferences such as this, I ask myself “are hotels kitted out for people like me and how can they personalise solo travel to be pleasurable?” It is our responsibility as hoteliers to not only market our offering to these independent travellers but to also accommodate them to the best of our abilities from the moment a guest checks in up until departure.

How is the hotel industry and main market catering for solo travellers?

Yes, we see an increase in discount offers or tailored room packages for solo travellers, and easy cancellation opportunities to change and leave as they want but what else. What else can be done to flip the script on this once taboo element of the travel experience?

So often we hear hotel collateral terming their hotel as the guests’ ‘Home Away From Home”. Personally, I believe that’s rubbish. I don’t believe that too many hotel guests WANT their hotel to resemble their homes and for staff to emulate how their children and partners behave! No hotel could ever emulate a home environment - ever. Being comfortable at a hotel will always boil down to the human factor; the hotel staff - and this is where the difference can be made. The welcome, the care and the warmth of personality…

Although slightly unfortunate, there’s no point in denying the fact that fear and safety are big determining factors in whether or not someone will travel alone, where they will travel to and where they will book their accommodation for the duration of the trip. Likely questions come to mind such as “will someone know if something happens to me?”, “who will be alerted” and so much more.

Surprisingly enough (when international travel restrictions weren’t in place),my family and I would go on holiday and stay at family resorts in Mauritius, Greece and throughout Africa – resorts typically designed for families – but lo and behold – I could not help but notice the number of individual guests and enjoying their vacation nonetheless!

According to a 2020 study conducted by Solo Traveler World, statistics showed the below results in relation to post-pandemic travellers:

  • 77% are willing to go internationally if they do not have to quarantine upon arrival
  • 53% are likely to take escorted tours
  • 46% say they will travel more often
  • 25% noted that they would take longer trips
  • 16% will choose a destination or accommodation with greater luxury
  • And, women will travel solo more than men

The rise of the solo traveller opens up many doors and endless opportunities for tour and activity operators as well as hotel groups all around the world.

We should hop on board quickly!

Author

Guy Stehlik, CEO of BON Hotels
Chief Executive Officer

Having grown up in the corridors and reception areas of Cape Town hotels, Guy Stehlik is no stranger to the hospitality industry.

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