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As a travel writer, I’m used to visiting all sorts of exotic destinations alone. Many travel agents, I’m sure, are also used to doing site inspections or going on fam trips and focusing on business while couples and groups vacation around them. When you’re in the travel business, romantic, faraway resorts become our workplace.
Because this is such a common occurrence for most of us, it’s easy to forget how difficult single travelers can have it. In many cases, traveling alone is both more expensive and less welcoming. Fortunately, the travel industry has slowly become aware of this contradiction and, as you can read in this issue’s cover story, “Me, Myself and My Agent” (page 12), suppliers are now catering to single travelers — much to the benefit of their bottom lines.
Research tells us that single travelers spend more per person, on average, than any other demographic. Also, single travelers have specific desires when they travel, and they tend to seek out advice and expertise in planning trips. It’s easy to see how agents have the potential to tap into a profitable market by reaching out to singles.
In addition, while many agents are rightly excited by the potential business as the baby-boomer generation retires, it’s easy to overlook that many of these boomers, for a variety of reasons, will be traveling solo. So any agent that is not staying current with the best options for single travelers will be leaving a large segment of this market untapped.
Not only are travel products changing to adapt to solo travelers, but traveler attitudes are shifting as well. According to research, the baby-boomer generation and travelers in their 20s — two demographic groups with a lot of single travelers — share some similar characteristics, one of which is that they value independence and strongly resent being told what to do. Therefore, it’s more likely that, these days, if a single traveler wants to explore a destination, they are going to do so whether it flies in the face of conventional thinking or not.
Again, travel agents need to be prepared for these solo clients. An agent who can help a single traveler feel comfortable about taking the trip he or she has always dreamed about will likely make a client for life.