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Travel Review June - Solo Travelling

Travel Monthly Review Show June: 2024 Travel Trends & Solo Travelling

In Travel Review Show's June 2024 edition, we delve into the world of solo travel, share insights from our adventures, and discuss the latest industry news. Clare Steiner reports from the sunny beaches of Greece, Will Plummer recounts tales from Hungary's historic core, James Clarke discusses his invigorating break in Cyprus, and host Ryan shares his Welsh wander. 

Solo travel is gaining momentum, with significant growth among older travellers discovering the joys of independent journeys. Clare Steiner, from Greece, highlights the increasing confidence of British solo travellers and the importance of security, especially for women seeking safe accommodations.

Will Plummer, fresh from Hungary, notes travel companies are providing affordable and secure options, addressing challenges like high single supplements. He sees growth potential in the solo travel market with an aging population and democratized travel.

James Clarke, recently in Cyprus, discusses the market's response to solo travellers' needs. He urges travel companies to make solo travel more accessible and affordable by addressing issues like single supplements.

Pelumi Nubi, a seasoned solo traveller and a content creator shares her experiences, emphasizing security and comfort for solo female travellers. She highlights the growing interest among women in solo travel and the industry's need to address single supplements to attract a broader audience.

Kerry Gallagher, Managing Director at Silver Travel Advisor, provides insights into the solo travel market's evolution. She discusses the increasing popularity of solo travel among the over 50s and changing perceptions. Kerry points out travel companies' efforts to cater to solo travellers with solo cabins and tailored tours.

In the news that we have discussions on, faces a probe for misleading customers by omitting tourist taxes and falsely claiming near-sold-out rooms. Expedia Group introduces Travel Shops for influencers to earn commissions on bookings. Travel trends in 2024 show a record number of international travellers, increased consumer spending, and longer vacations. Memorable events are driving travel, with Japan, Ireland, and Romania experiencing significant growth in tourist spending. The Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole council considers a local visitor charge of £2.40 per night.

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Programme Notes

This episode has been automatically transcribed by AI, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors

Ryan Haynes (00:00:05) - Welcome to the Travel Review Show June 2024 edition, and we'll be looking at solo travel. Joining us are our expert panellists, Clare Steiner, Wil Plummer and James Clarke, as we delve into tackling the news with and Expedia, then into solo travel with interviews from Kerry Gallagher, the managing director at Silver Travel, and Pelumi Nubi, a content creator. Before we then dive into our quick quiz. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. Let's get on with the show.

Ryan Haynes (00:00:58) - Okay, so the summit is well and truly here guys. And you've been out and about. You're doing things. We've got Clare who's actually joining us on a line currently connected from Greece. Hiya, Clare. how is your trip going over there? You were making the most of it.

Claire Steiner (00:01:13) - Hi, Ryan, I certainly am, thank you. Yeah, I mean, obviously, Greece is a beautiful country.

Claire Steiner (00:01:18) - I've not been to this area before. I'm in the Halkidiki Province. had a few days here of just resting and enjoying this beautiful country. And it's food and it's wine and I'm heading off this afternoon down to the ICI conference, down in Puerto Caras, down on the further south from where I am. So, yeah, loving every minute of it, of course.

Ryan Haynes (00:01:39) - Passion and dedication to the travel industry. You are carving out just a tiny little bit of time to join us here. Thank you. Will, you're back from Hungary. how was that little trip? 

Will Plummer (00:01:51) - Yeah, lovely. Absolutely stunning part of the country. We're in a place called Cheval, which means mud castle. About 2.5 hours drive, from, Budapest, out for a family wedding and. Yeah. Stunning. Stunning scenery, great weather, great entertainment. So. Yeah. 

Ryan Haynes (00:02:08) - Have you been to a Hungarian wedding before?

Will Plummer (00:02:10) - No, I've done other Eastern European. I've done a Bulgarian and a Polish, all similar themed hard, hard liquor.

Will Plummer (00:02:18) - A lot of crazy dancing, but, you know, wonderful festivities, wonderful warmth and happiness and great occasion.

Ryan Haynes (00:02:26) - I always find them so much better. The European weddings and the British ones seem to be a little bit dry or stuck in the 60s and 70s with disco music, but, so yeah, go to a good French wedding and you're up until 6:00 in the morning.

Will Plummer (00:02:40) - Probably. It's too, too late for me. I'm. I'm a 10:00, man. You know, I need my beauty sleep. Lots and lots of it.

Ryan Haynes (00:02:47) - Well, coming to another gentleman who's been well rested after a bit of a holiday in Cyprus. James Clerk. How was your trip?

James Clarke (00:02:53) - Hello, Ryan. Hi, guys. very, very, very nice. Just what the doctor ordered. Lots of vitamin D, lots of downtime with family pool time. with my children. So, yeah, really relaxed and raring to go.

Ryan Haynes (00:03:08) - Good one. I'm just back from a trip to Snowdonia, preparing myself for a Welsh coast road trip.

Ryan Haynes (00:03:13) - Yes, back to Wales. Can't wait to explore more of that because I am a water baby at heart. And then the rivers, the lakes, the waterfalls. Oh, I tell you what, when the weather does hold back, it is absolutely wonderful. So let's dive into the news first though, shall we? Because we've got some interesting new stories to explore.

Ryan Haynes (00:03:39) - So in the news. First faces a new probe into claims it misled customers. So the consumer watchdog has identified as a platform that has left out tourist taxes and supplements from its advertised prices and falsely claims that hotel rooms were almost sold out. Interesting one. Is this all marketing, or do you think that this was an oversight on their part? Where are we standing on this one?

Will Plummer (00:04:13) - Go on. I'll be cynical, I think. I think there are some companies that look at this and go, how am I going to win business? And I'm not sure whether they're seeking to mislead, but they're seeking to attract as much business as they possibly can.

Will Plummer (00:04:29) - And this is the one of the tactics that, that they're sort of utilizing at this point. it's great to see there is some oversight going into this. I'm hearing stories on, other things like, taxes not being paid correctly to hotels where not not from specifically, but from other OTAs and hotel, bed banks, where taxes aren't being paid, sufficiently or properly. And I, you know, okay. Fair enough, fair game at times. But it's good to see there is actually someone coming in, an authority coming in and checking that it's being properly policed because ultimately it's for everyone's benefit for the consumer's benefit. It's, yes, to attract more, customers. But ultimately we want to protect them along the way, and we want to make sure that everyone gets what they've paid for and understands what they're getting.

Ryan Haynes (00:05:18) - I just had a conversation with a lawyer, and experts, for Richard Collie on drip pricing. And this is all about sort of like, how do you capture interest and drive people through the funnel.

Ryan Haynes (00:05:29) - And it's really interesting about potentially here in the UK, some of the new regulations that will be coming in, and actually making that idea of drip pricing effectively, sort of like not necessarily showing the entire final price, less, less giving, not allowing the companies to do that so much. James, I mean, you're constantly sort of promoting different packages. you know, what are the policies that you believe, companies should adhere to and help with their customers?

James Clarke (00:05:58) - Well, I think to Will's point, I completely agree. But fundamentally, I think as an advertiser it should be the clearest and the most transparent price possible to the customer and the corner. What's happened over the years is there's been this it goes in kind of like, this kind of circle, should we call it where we go to the airlines first and say that the airlines have to be, you know, clear. You should be able to book the price that you advertise. And then they kind of change the way that they operate.

James Clarke (00:06:33) - And then they add the bags on the seats. And, you know, ultimately there has to be a way that you can book that lead in price. And even if it means you're sat in the toilet for the entire journey. But there's a price. And the hoteliers have gone and kind of gone down a similar route. Or the agent, should we say not the hoteliers directly where you go to book through a site and hidden in the small print somewhere is a city tax or a hotel tax or another tax. And what's happened, as we've spoken about this in the past, is that the online community now can buy it back and they can rally together and they can go to the champions of these, whether it's the likes of a watchdog or if it's the ASA directly and say, you know, we as a consumer have a voice and we are fed up of being caught out like this.

Ryan Haynes (00:07:18) - Yes. I mean, as you say, it just massively affects, reputation, business reputation.

Ryan Haynes (00:07:24) - If you are constantly putting a price out there, it isn't the same as, when you do the checkout. And, you know, there's been countless examples, particularly of budget airlines that have been perhaps putting forward certain pricing. And then by the time you get to the end, those are way beyond what you initially saw advertised. Claire, is this something that you've experienced yourself? and how do you sort of avoid, working with companies that potentially have these misleading pricing?

Claire Steiner (00:07:50) - Well, I think James just said it. I think it's all about trust. And as a consumer, you know, I think we all have budgets. When we go out and buy something, be it a holiday or whatever it is, and if we go in and are hooked in, and we think, oh, this looks good, and then suddenly at the end we're stung by an extra load of, you know, costs. It really erodes the trust you have in it. And for me, it makes me think twice, and I might actually move away from that booking and go somewhere else where I think I'm going to get better value, but also more transparency.

Claire Steiner (00:08:20) - And the likelihood is I probably won't go back to that site again. so yeah, I think it's all to do with, with, you know, the trust. And I'm glad to see that that, you know, there are changes certainly in the UK for stopping this from happening.

Ryan Haynes (00:08:35) - Now moving on to our next story. Another big OTA now. Interesting. And now, interestingly, Expedia is letting influencers cash in on their followers. So they have introduced travel shops, which allow influencers and content creators to earn commissions from travellers when they book their recommended hotels. Quite an interesting development here. I think it's always potentially been on the cards. We've seen plenty of sponsorships in and around retail, and now we're seeing it within, travel as well. I know I've seen this, perhaps more so with like 1 to 1 deal that you have between influencers and hotels or hotel brands. But Expedia is a big brand here. big platform. is this something that's going to become the norm? would you book through an influencer, Claire? I mean, have you got are you a social media? do you follow a lot of the influencers?

Claire Steiner (00:09:33) - And not a huge amount? To be fair, actually, for me, I think I were lucky working in the industry, that we have contacts that can tell us the best places to go and get good value. So I don't take that for granted. And I guess you could say that the people in the industry are my influencers. I don't buy into it necessarily, because actually, I think, you know, not all of them. And I don't want to tire everybody with the same brush. But the influencers themselves, you know, if they are given a free holiday, provided that they then, you know, tell their million followers to go on the free holiday, I don't know, to me, I'm just like, well, that doesn't really say what I need it to say. so I'm a bit cynical about that. I'm joining the Will’s Club in that one.

Ryan Haynes (00:10:16) - About your travels to work with influencers.

James Clarke (00:10:19) - We do work with influencers, but we work with influencers, of a nature of we like to work with member influencers.

James Clarke (00:10:25) - Our members are our biggest influencers, so we always ask them to tell the story and share that story. And, you know, they're not paid to do that. That's the point of being a Travelzoo member to build that community outside that. We also work with a few very small micro-influencers. And, you know, not to the scales that I imagine Expedia are looking for. And the key to that is authenticity. If you are being influenced, do you want to be influenced by a like-minded, traveller or a like-minded consumer? What I think is misleading is when you're influenced or are trying to be influenced by someone who gets a private jet to a Greek island to, you know, go on to a Greek island for one day and take a photo of a beach in Mykonos which has been purposely emptied for you. And then you go, wow, I really want to go to Mykonos. And you go and you see the 4000 people on the beach, and the price of a glass of rosé is €100.

James Clarke (00:11:19) - So I think there are two types of influencers. But look, good luck to Expedia. They're trying to be different.

Will Plummer (00:11:25) - I think we're the wrong demographic, aren't we? I don't want to cast aspersions on my colleagues here, but, Look, I'm surprised it's taken Expedia so long. Really, in terms of that, I think that's the way that a lot of marketing is going. You know, people are trying different things to get different audiences from different generations. obviously, there are generations that will follow influencers. It's all about, you know, the photos on Instagram. It's all about who's where and who's posting what. and I'm not surprised. I think you'll see a lot of other companies do it, but I think the key thing, is it's got to be part of a broad strategy. I don't think they're even saying we're putting all our eggs into the influencer basket. That's part of a broad marketing campaign, through different mediums for different audiences. So I think you'll see that happening to James's point.

Will Plummer (00:12:19) - You know, it is about that authenticity. But the kind of proof is in the pudding. And I think there will be, you know, filtering and natural filtering by the consumer based on the reality of what they're buying. And I think you'll see that being refined over time. it will always have a place just because of how the platforms are working, and how people are taking their information these days. and yeah, I'm not surprised to see it. And I think we'll see a lot more of it.

Ryan Haynes (00:12:47) - Excellent. Thank you. Right on to our third story then Bournemouth. Christchurch from Paul. That's my home area. is considering a local visitor charge. So under their current proposals to earn a little bit more money, a charge of £2.40 would be added to a gas bill per room per night. So I'm over four nights. That would be an extra £10. What are your thoughts here is this thing that we could see across the UK, is there a need for it?

Ryan Haynes (00:13:13) - Do you think the travel industry really or the, you know, the UK domestic travel industry really needs to be trying to raise, more, more money to, to support, local tourism?

James Clarke (00:13:26) - So personally, I think it's just about taking a bit more cream off the top. It's a bit of a shame really. I don't think destinations like that need to be adding a form of tax when, particularly in the shoulder in the off-peak season, they'll be just craving to have tourists, let alone trying to get an additional piece of revenue. Sometimes the opportunity outweighs, you know, the actual benefit. And they probably look at this and go, well, if we know we have X many tourists, this will generate X income. But think about the local shop seller, the local restaurant, you know, all these all these guys who are going to be affected potentially by a downturn in traffic. So will it put off the large majority? No. Will it put off the minority? Probably yes. Because they'll look at the resort down the road and say they welcome tourists.

James Clarke (00:14:18) - That's my gut feeling.

Ryan Haynes (00:14:20) - Absolutely. I've been surprised by it. I mean, there's already a local tax for local businesses anyway, to support the local tourist board. So what they're doing on top of this is now taxing the guests or the travellers coming here, not just the local businesses that are benefiting from the tourism. And, I think as a result of the pandemic, yes, of course, we had a load of people coming to our beaches. it was, you know, there was overpopulated for weeks and weeks at a time for the last few years. But we've also seen staycations over the last years really drop, as people start to travel abroad again. So like you said, James, I think that it could potentially be putting people off massively. a will, I mean, I mean, I know that in other European countries there's local tourist tax. is it not fair?

Will Plummer (00:15:06) - Well, I just wonder where the balance is. And I'm interested to know some of the economics, and I'll put my hands up and say, I don't.

Will Plummer (00:15:12) - Obviously you're seeing a lot of taxes coming in around overtourism. Venice is limiting the number of people coming in, etc. now if this money is going somewhere for the development of that town, city, you know, a tourist attraction to continue the longevity so that in the short-medium, long term, you know, you haven't got this overtourism situation. So actually you can be a sustainable tourism destination, then I'm all for it. If it's just a simple cash cow to put money in the, you know, local council, then yeah, I agree with the cynicism. But if it's going to the right place for the right things, I do see that it could work because I see the flip side, which is, you know, places like Venice bringing in a tourism tax that almost feels too late. I mean, that's trying to be a massive deterrent to these people, rather than actually using it for the good of a destination. So in two minds. But if it's going to the right place, if it's going for the long-term benefit of these places, then.

Will Plummer (00:16:18) - I'm prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt.

James Clarke (00:16:21) - I don't want to be really controversial, but I remember years ago when they said, At Luton Airport, you need a pound to drop someone off because it's going to go towards the redevelopment of Luton Airport and like the resurfacing of the roads. And everyone back then was kind of like, well, we'll accept a pound. It's like £10 now to drop someone off. And every single airport in the UK seems to apply some form of levy to just drop someone off at an airport. And I just think it's a slippery slope. You introduce £1, it becomes two, two becomes £253, and before you know it, you're actually creating more damage than you are. Good.

Ryan Haynes (00:16:56) - Okay. Right then, just a final bit of news. Mastercard has launched its Travel Trends 2024, where it identifies some of the changes that we're seeing in the market. Apparently, passengers are travelling at an all-time high, with, Japan welcoming over 3 million passenger arrivals rivals already by March 2024.

Ryan Haynes (00:17:17) - Apparently, tourists are spending more time on holiday by up by one extra day on pre-COVID levels. And the top gainers are Japan, Ireland and Romania. Yes, they're experiencing the strongest growth in share of spending from tourists compared to last year. Coming up next, we're going to be diving into the solo travel trends.

Ryan Haynes (00:17:45) - Okay, so we're in solo travel. Did you know that Brits are now becoming bolder when it comes to their travel habits? According to Holiday Pirates, more than 1 in 5. That's 21% now want to embark on solo trips. And this year alone, 1 in 10 travellers will embark on a solo journey, while 1 in 5 want to see the world without having to wait for someone to join them. Touring, an adventure aggregator, tour hub and tour hound has seen solo bookings increase to 46% of transactions this year, compared to just over a third in 2022, while Wendy Wu Tours has seen a 48% increase in solo bookings from January to August compared to the same period in 2019.

Ryan Haynes (00:18:31) - So it's really massively becoming popular. Nine of ten travellers take tours or some or all of the time, while e than half plan to take two or more trips a year. And then the greatest increase in solo travellers actually comes from female solo travellers aged 65 and older, going from 4% in 2019 to 18% in 2022. And did you know it's women that lead solo travelling? 84% of solo travellers are women. So a big thing. And in Claire, this is something that you really brought to the table to discuss and, help me, interview Kerry Gallagher, managing director at Silver Travel and Pelumi Nubi content creator, who will be coming up next. You're a big solo traveller, aren't you?

Claire Steiner (00:19:24) - I am, I love it, I love the freedom it gives you. I love the opportunity to do things when you want to do them without waiting for other people. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love travelling with friends as well as family. But for me, I yeah, I think maybe the older I've got, the braver I've got as well.

Claire Steiner (00:19:42) - I mean, I did my first solo travelling proper solo travelling when I was in my late 20s, and whilst I'm not in the 65 plus bracket yet, you know, I can see I see my mum doing it and her friends doing it.

Ryan Haynes (00:19:54) - What do you find is important when it comes to soda travelling? from a perspective of what the industry should be offering?

Claire Steiner (00:20:01) - I think, once I see the security. So don't get me wrong. I think, you know, everyone's aware of it. I think we have seen over the years of rallies in hotels being better when it comes to how they look after female travellers. A lot of them now have floors dedicated only to just for just women guests. And also, I know I've, I've been involved in training and I always have a word if I don't see it being done, where if a woman is on her own and she's receiving her room key, they don't announce to the everybody standing in reception what room she is in. as they hand to her key.

Claire Steiner (00:20:36) - and I think things like that are really important, but actually, I think, you know, this whole adventure travel, it's great fun to go out and meet similar-minded people and do the group tours. And for me, I think there's a huge opportunity in that as well. I do a bit of touring, but I also like to do my own thing, in my own time.

Ryan Haynes (00:20:57) - Excellent. I mean, I've been, also solo travelling for quite some time. I made my first trip over to the US, hopping, skipping, jumping across the country, visiting friends, and I had a week of my own in San Francisco, and that was a true learning experience there. and I went around India, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and also like yourself, to join some of these tours. And it is a great way of being able to meet people who are, like-minded like yourself, or, just being able to fill a day of conversation with someone other than yourself, because that can go a little bit crazy after a while, can't it? Yeah.

Ryan Haynes (00:21:32) - Absolutely. Right. Well, James, have you done much solo travelling yourselves?

Will Plummer (00:21:39) - Not. Not loads. I'll be. I'll be honest. I mean, any sort of travelling I've typically done, I've organised myself and gone off on my own. But I don't think we should be surprised by some of the numbers, to be honest, because, you know, looking at where the growth opportunity was, it was always a challenge for travel companies. You know, how they could accommodate affordably, solo travellers and safely. And I think the bottom line is what a lot of these companies are. All of these companies that you mentioned have done is put an infrastructure in place that actually does target these travellers, does provide a safe and secure environment for them to travel on their own, and affordably. You know, it was always the case that you paid a massive single supplement, to go on, to go on as a solo traveler. So I think that's changed. And I think that's what you're seeing in the numbers.

Will Plummer (00:22:31) - You're seeing that you know, companies taking that opportunity to really take advantage of that section of the market. And I think it's to be applauded. And I think we'll see a lot of other companies doing that and the growth within that.

James Clarke (00:22:45) - and I think if I could add something there. Ryan. So definitely to Will's point, it's going to be the growing part of the industry. We're an ageing population. We know that travel has ultimately been democratized over the last few years. It's easier and more accessible to travel to the furthest parts of the world than it's ever been. and businesses that particularly like to allow singles to travel in groups but not necessarily still, occupy all that time with that group is a very smart way of allowing singles to kind of travel. It might be in a group, but then go off and do their own thing. But I think the big biggest threat to this part of the, market is around the piece that Will said, which I've actually just got some data in today from our, audience.

James Clarke (00:23:31) - And when I was at the destination show, the biggest feedback was around the supplement for a single. And my audience, my members who I spoke to at the destination show kept asking me, why am I penalized for travelling alone? Because that's how it feels. I take one seat on an aircraft. I take one bed up, I don't eat two breakfasts, I don't eat two lunches, etc. but I feel that I'm paying double the price. And of our survey data when we ask, particularly around solo, it's quite interesting when we said, would you still consider solo travel if there was a single supplement applied and 27% of those solo travellers said no, so you're losing a quarter of a captive market there around single supplement. And there are some very good players in the market who are tackling that head-on with no single supplements. From a cruise perspective, we have people like Riviera, we have just you from holidays and touring perspective. But, there's more work to be done to attract that captive part of the audience.

Ryan Haynes (00:24:29) - Yes. And I've certainly seen as well that, you know, they're helping people solo travellers pair up as well to manage some of those costs, which is great because you absolutely need that to be facilitated in some way, that's for sure. I love that data. Thank you ever so much for sharing that with us. and what we're going to do now is we're going to hear from Kerry Gallagher, the managing director at Silver Travel, about what the developments are in the industry and, what to think about when developing your packages and promotions.

Ryan Haynes (00:25:05) - Joining us now is Kerry Gallagher, the managing director at Silver Travel Advisor, the UK's leading travel agent for the over 50s. Kerry, thank you ever so much for coming in and joining us today. So please tell us a little bit more about Silver Travel Advisor.

Kerry Gallagher (00:25:18) - Oh, thank you so much, Ryan. And thank you so much for having me. Having me with you today. So yeah, the travel advisor, we've been around for about 15 years now.

Kerry Gallagher (00:25:27) - The company started very much as, an advice and recommendation site for the over 50s to get yeah, advice and recommendations about where to go on holiday, what to do, different cruise ships, destinations, hotels and it was all very much around user-generated reviews so that you could see what like-minded people were, were doing and enjoying for their holidays. And we then onboarded a team of travel journalists who obviously travel all over the world. They are also over 50, so they bring back, their honest, genuine, authentic opinions on the places that they visit and the holidays that they take. And then much more recently, back in 2022, we added a travel agency model to the business as well. So alongside being able to advise and inspire, we can now also take holiday bookings and manage that process for our customers very much from start to finish. So right from, as I said, inspiration all the way through to getting them on their holiday and ensuring that they have an amazing time.

Ryan Haynes (00:26:28) - Wonderful.

Ryan Haynes (00:26:29) - So, the theme of the show is solo travel. Are you seeing this pick-up in the silver market?

Kerry Gallagher (00:26:35) - Absolutely, yes we are, we are. I would say that solo travel accounts for about a third of our enquiries and bookings. So it is really, really popular with our, with our audience. and I think it's probably because, over the last few years, there's just been more awareness around solo travel. And with that comes more confidence. I think if you go back maybe a decade or so ago, there was a little bit of a stigma about people travelling on their own, especially in an older age group, and there was a lot of nerves around people taking the plunge and going, going on holiday on their own. And I think when you consider that people travel alone for a variety of different reasons, it could absolutely be by choice, because as they get to their late stages of life, there are things that they really want to do and some bucket list trips that perhaps their partner isn't interested in doing.

Kerry Gallagher (00:27:27) - So they bite the bullet and they just go and do it by themselves. And it could be because the children have flown the nest and they suddenly find themselves without a family around them to holiday with, it could be divorced or sadly, and in quite a lot of cases it could be due to bereavement as well. So people find themselves in a situation that they really weren't expecting and perhaps don't want to be in. And so I think that's where a lot of the nerves around solo travel come from. However, I think over the last few years, as I said, there's a lot more awareness. I think a lot of travel companies are making huge strides in the products that they offer for solo travellers, and that has now made it much more accessible that people, yeah, have much more confidence to be able to travel alone. So yeah, as I said, about probably a third of our customers are solo travellers.

Ryan Haynes (00:28:17) - So what are the popular trends you're seeing in solo travel?

Kerry Gallagher (00:28:21) - I think the main one is that solo travellers are becoming much more adventurous, much more adventurous.

Kerry Gallagher (00:28:28) - So we are seeing one of the trends we are seeing in particular is for expedition cruising. So a lot of solo travel is booked to go down to Antarctica or to the Arctic. And that's where Iink it, ties in with what I said earlier about the the bucket list type of trips where people just think, do you know what? It's something I've wanted to do for such a long time. I'm going to go ahead and do it. so yeah, some, some really adventurous holidays that people are booking, which is fantastic to see. and I think that destinations where you might struggle to get yourself from A to B, whether there might be a language barrier or a certainly a different culture, they tend to be very popular. So places like India or China or Japan are very, very popular with solo travellers because I think when they join, an organised small group tour, they feel a lot more comfortable that there's someone there to kind of hold their hand through that experience as well. So yeah.

Kerry Gallagher (00:29:26) - So those destinations are certainly popular with our solo travellers as well.

Ryan Haynes (00:29:30) - So joining a group, as you say, you get to go on your own, but meeting new people, you can, I guess, to disappear if you want on your own at times, but or stay in a group and make new friends. What about the side of pure independent travel? Are people turning to you and saying, help me with an itinerary where I can actually go off on my own and explore the world?

Kerry Gallagher (00:29:48) - Yeah, absolutely. It is on both sides. So I'd say there are three, three areas that are really popular for us with solo travel. So cruising is a big one. We do get a lot of people, you know, going on cruises on their own again, because you said once they. On board. They know there are like-minded people. That they can share their mealtimes with and their shore excursions with, organized touring. Very, very popular. But the independent side of things absolutely is taking off.

Kerry Gallagher (00:30:17) - And I think what we find is that people who haven't travelled on their own before going for that safety and security of a cruise or an organized group. But certainly, if you've done quite a few trips as a solo traveller and you gain that confidence, and the, sort of ability to navigate on, on your own, that's where we do find people coming and saying, you know, an example recently was a South America itinerary that literally took them probably across the whole continent, really, about a six-week journey from A to B to C to D, and yeah, completely alone. So as I said, that links back to the adventurous part of things as well. So the travellers are certainly getting more and more adventurous.

Ryan Haynes (00:30:57) - Wow. Yeah.

Ryan Haynes (00:30:58) - It's and I'd say 50. it's not old anymore. it's still increased much. So young people were having kids at an older age as well. and you say there's, there's so much more products on the market, isn't there? So tell me about the markets of products that are on the market that are really catering to this group.

Kerry Gallagher (00:31:16) - So I think cruise lines are doing a really good job at the moment. So especially with, new ships that have been built, they're making more and more provisions for solo cabins, which ultimately then brings down some of the solo supplements because that's, you know, sort of a big bugbear for people who travel solo when you almost get slapped with a, you know, another 100% on, on your, your holiday cost because you're travelling, alone. But I think more and more companies are looking at that and trying to make provisions like I said, more and more solo cabins on board. And what you're touring companies are concerned about is there are two different kinds of groups really. You've got, some companies that are dedicated solo travellers. So when you join, one of their holidays, you know that every single other person within that group is also a solo traveller. This suits some people because they like to think that everyone's in the same, same boat, and it gives them that bit of a sort of security blanket.

Kerry Gallagher (00:32:13) - touring companies that generally cater for everybody, again, are making some changes to their product that adapt to solo travellers. So there might be specific departures over a particular tour where it will be a guaranteed solo departure. again, some people prefer to join that type of group. However, if you're comfortable joining a group that's mixed between friends, couples, and solo travellers, they give you options to share a room with another solo traveller to again bring that price point down. so yeah, there's a lot of product being developed out there, which is really appealing to, to more and more solo travellers and just making it easier for solo travellers to, to have the same experience at a price that isn't going to, as I said, put them at a disadvantage, really.

Ryan Haynes (00:32:57) - I was going to say, because the final question I wanted to ask you is the advice that you're going to give the market out of considering solo travellers, either in developing products or marketing to them?

Kerry Gallagher (00:33:08) - And I, one of the pieces of advice that we always give to our customers is if if there is any nerves around, travelling on your own, go with a go with a small, short break first.

Kerry Gallagher (00:33:21) - So maybe do a long weekend away in Europe, see if it's for you. See how you like it. That's always, you know, one of the things we say. Because the last thing you want to do is commit to a holiday for two weeks or so and then find a couple of days in it, for whatever reason is maybe just not for you. I think one of the main, main pieces of advice that I would give to companies talking to solo travellers is to really have a good understanding of the audience. As I said before, there are people who travel solo for different reasons, and you really have to understand that and be able to talk to them in a language that they understand. I don't think solo travel is like to be thought of as an afterthought. I think you really have to have your communications plan, you know, tailored towards the audience. So you're speaking their language, you're addressing their concerns, and you're giving them the advice that, that they need.

Kerry Gallagher (00:34:15) - So really do when you're looking at all your audience segments, have a solo traveller as one of your dedicated segments and really drill down into who that customer is, what they're looking for, what you can offer to them, and then really hone your communications around those. Key points.

Ryan Haynes (00:34:33) - Some sound advice there. Kerri, thank you ever so much. I really appreciate your time. And joining us here on Travel Market Life.

Kerry Gallagher (00:34:38) - Oh, you're more than welcome. Thank you so much for having me.

Ryan Haynes (00:34:46) - I also spoke to Pelumi Nubi, a content creator and keen solo traveller. First I wanted to know from her. Why solo travel is so appealing.

Pelumi Nubi (00:34:59) - But solo travel honestly changed my life. It's choosing or having ownership of how you choose to do things. It really shows you who you are in a way. You're not relying on other people. You are having the full experience just by yourself, and that unveils a whole layer of yourself that most people don't get to know when they don't solo travel.

Pelumi Nubi (00:35:20) - So solo travel has taught me a lot about who I am as a person my likes, my beliefs, and my values, and really stretched me, to step out of my comfort zone and do some incredible adventure by myself, which just, you know, self affirm and shows the level of self-resilience I do have within myself.

Ryan Haynes (00:35:39) - Now, you have quite an extensive travel program, and we were just having a bit of a chat about that before we came on to record. Tell me about some of those trips that you've undertaken as a solo traveller.

Pelumi Nubi (00:35:49) - Oh my goodness. So I've travelled to over 80+ countries and more than half of them are solo travels. I'm always on this like it's happening. Guys, you are more than welcome to join. I do love travelling with friends, but most time, you know, time doesn't work out or even go to the commitment. I intend to go solo. so more of my, you know, within, within Europe has been solo travel. Just look for, like I said, Skyscanner.

Pelumi Nubi (00:36:14) - Cheapest destination we can break, you know, go on Friday, come back on Sunday, that kind of thing. but very recently I did a solo trip, solo driving from London to Lagos. being the first black woman to do such, an adventure, which was just incredible. I was able to immerse myself, you know, travelling through Europe and then through West Africa and just have, you know, a bucket list of memories that I could, you know, not trade for the world. So, yeah, that was that was the most recent adventure that I went to and solo.

Ryan Haynes (00:36:42) - I mean, my next question was, you know, the challenges as a solo traveller, I think.

Pelumi Nubi (00:36:46) - You know, just being by yourself, people don't realize how isolating that can be. you are I was in this car and at one point I was like, I think I'm losing my mind. You know, I'm in conversation with. So. So yeah, there's definitely that point of being conscious of making sure your level of connection is happening.

Pelumi Nubi (00:37:11) - you know, if you're talking about being a woman, you have the, you know, the safety concerns, you know, that was one of the top asked questions, you know, how are you sure you're not going to be kidnapped? Are you sure you're going to be safe? You know what? I am just a woman, just the general position of society, expectations and stuff like that. That's definitely something, just safety conscious. So there were some things I did like. I had like an AirTag with me all the time so my family could know exactly where it was. I had the door locked and the window open. I had, like, blackout quarters at the back so people couldn't look into the can't see my valuables in there. You know, I try not to drive at night. It was just like safety conscious I cannot put into place. yeah. Solo travel. Just come with that level of extra cost too, as well. I think most organisations are making, you know, that conscious effort whereby like it's a cruise, they're trying to bring people together or trying to see how to reduce costs.

Pelumi Nubi (00:38:04) - So that's something that's, you know, you know, industries could be more conscious about why sometimes as a solo traveller, you want to go on a tour, but it's a minimum of three people and you're having to pay that out of pocket. So just that awareness that being solo does become quite expensive pretty quickly sometimes. but yeah, I think those are the few challenges in terms of just kind of like, you know, self-navigating some situation, not having that support network sometimes, and having to just, you know, put yourself out of your comfort zone.

Ryan Haynes (00:38:35) - Excellent. Right. Now let's dive into the industry side of things, shall we? So how could the industry better cater for solo and particularly women travellers?

Pelumi Nubi (00:38:45) - I think definitely more connectivities. I think there are a lot of apps coming up now whereby you're able to meet other solo travellers, you know, more network support networks are trying to be there. But I think definitely more improvements in these and just the reassurance, I think as a community should just, you know, be safer.

Pelumi Nubi (00:39:05) - You know, solo women want to feel safer in places. That's one of the top search questions, you know, will I be safe? What are the safety protocols? What are the like, you know, cultural norms? Those are things I was personally searching for. What is the dress code? All of that. We try to do our beta solo traveller. It'd be great, you know, to receive that same report. but then, you know, accessibility to information, kind of like, what are the local customs safety tips? If this can be easily accessible, sometimes you really have to do a deep dive and the information is not just available on your fingertip like all the things are now.

Ryan Haynes (00:39:43) - What advice would you give the market when they're perhaps looking at developing and creating packages, particularly for solo travellers? Is there sort of any trends, that are coming out or any ways of being able to package them up? To make the meal more appealing.

Pelumi Nubi (00:39:58) - Definitely flexibility. I think that's always a key for everybody.

Pelumi Nubi (00:40:03) - Personalisation. People want to feel like they are being catered to. As far as the solo traveller. Just the language you use, the terminologies they're showing that you are when you're building this package. I was being thought about not as an afterthought, but right from the beginning. And that is really quickly reflective, you know, the space, you know, you go to like some co-work space, for example. And, you know, women are really you walk into the bathroom and you see that level of thought of, you know, like the products, you know, hygiene products and stuff are in there. You just know that this is not an afterthought. This was there from the beginning. So that level of detail, personalization and, you know, just showing that we want more solo travellers were able to match all the solo travellers together. I spoke about programs that some cruise companies are adopting. And, you know, you know, that can be a thing whereby we're like, we see you like to travel, love to match you together, or group trip with other solo travellers coming into it.

Pelumi Nubi (00:41:01) - But just a welcoming environment in terms of like, you know, encouraging independence to us. So I think that's quite important. Although solo travellers do want to enjoy this solo travel experience so that they can push themselves out of their comfort zone they don't want the traditional everything will be catered for almost like we will have the basic things that will keep you safe and all of that, but you'll be able to do like one day of doing your own thing and, you know, experimenting and that kind of level of and it's a very fine line of not being. And does that make sense? Like enough. Yeah. So just that level of you know, we encourage your independence. And again, you know, being conscious of the economic impact and just kind of like adapting the payment plan if it's kind of like just showing that, you know, we know this might be a bit more costly for you. And we are putting all these kinds of extra things in place to help you travel more solo.

Ryan Haynes (00:42:00) - For an extended interview with Pelumi Nubi, please check out our upcoming podcasts on Travel Market Life. Coming up next is the quick quiz.

Ryan Haynes (00:42:14) - So, guys, are you ready? Best of five. We're going to be challenging you on your industry knowledge as usual. So hopefully, you've got some sort of buzzer, bell, horn or some way of making a noise. so Will's got a bell James has a… ouch, yeah, something that's just coming through the phone. And Claire is going to try. Oh, she is just going to drop her phone.

Claire Steiner (00:42:42) - I dropped my phone. Sorry. There was something I was trying, but I'll try. This is a nightmare. Can you hear that? I'm gonna bang my glass.

Ryan Haynes (00:42:52) - Excellent. Wonderful. Love it. Makeshift. It's just brilliant. That's a way. That's what this is designed for. Okay, right. Question number one. In what century was the Taj Mahal built?

Ryan Haynes (00:43:09) - Yes. Will.

Will Plummer  (00:43:11) - 12.

Ryan Haynes (00:43:13) - You've gone for 12. Anyone want to go for another guess there? James?

James Clarke (00:43:18) - 11th?

Ryan Haynes (00:43:22) - Claire. You may as well have a go.

Ryan Haynes (00:43:25) - Can you hear me?

Ryan Haynes (00:43:26) - No.

Claire Steiner (00:43:26) - Oh, I said 16th.

Ryan Haynes (00:43:29) - Congratulations, Claire. 17th. 17th century. So you were the closest. You are not as old as you think. Is it aye? Right. Next one. Are you ready? Be quick on this one. If you are visiting the Louvre. Which city would you be in?

Ryan Haynes (00:43:49) - Oh. Oh, Will goes in there. Just. Just quickly.

Will Plummer (00:43:55) - Would that be Paris, Ryan?

Ryan Haynes (00:43:56) - It would be Paris. Yes. All right, number three. What are the three Scandinavian countries? James?

James Clarke (00:44:12) - Denmark. Yeah, but do I get a yes or no? Or should I just say?

Ryan Haynes (00:44:18) - Say I'm asking for the three Scandinavian countries

James Clarke (00:44:21) - Denmark? Norway. And Sweden.

Ryan Haynes (00:44:27) - Oh, congratulations. Right. Number four, which is the largest? Caribbean island? James?

James Clarke (00:44:39) - Jamaica.

Ryan Haynes (00:44:43) - Will.

Will Plummer (00:44:46) - Is it The Dominican Republic?

Ryan Haynes (00:44:48) - No, Claire, you're still in the game. Do you have any idea what is the largest Caribbean island?

Ryan Haynes (00:44:56) - Oh, can we get her?

Ryan Haynes (00:44:58) - Can we get an answer from Claire? No, I think she's frozen.

Ryan Haynes (00:45:01) - I think she's doing okay.

Ryan Haynes (00:45:08) - so this is. This is the peril of remote working, right?

Ryan Haynes (00:45:11) - Yeah. Go on then. Put us out of our misery.

Will Plummer (00:45:14) - Is it is it Barbados?

James Clarke (00:45:15) - Barbados?

Ryan Haynes (00:45:16) - Cuba.

James Clarke (00:45:18) - Oh, you don't see it?

Ryan Haynes (00:45:20) - Everyone forgets that Cuba is a Caribbean country, I think. Ireland.

James Clarke (00:45:23) - Oh, God. Yeah, we should have known that. Well.

Ryan Haynes (00:45:27) - Question, fifth and final question. The Spanish Steps are. In which city? James?

James Clarke (00:45:36) - Rome.

Ryan Haynes (00:45:37) - Yes. Congratulations. You are the winner this week.

Ryan Haynes (00:45:43) - Well done, well done. Will, I'm gonna. Come back on and.

Ryan Haynes (00:45:47) - Go. It was Cuba. Did you get that? Oh, she did so well. She was so.

Ryan Haynes (00:45:55) - Determined to be here for the entire time.

Ryan Haynes (00:45:58) - And I'm glad we managed to get some bits and pieces from her before she heads off to the ITT conference. but, Oh. Clare is now attempting to join one more time here. She has been added to a little mix. do we get to hear Claire's voice before we disappear?

Claire Steiner (00:46:17) - Yes. You do. I'm so sorry. I could. Yeah, again.

Ryan Haynes (00:46:23) - Yes, we can. Which is the largest Caribbean island.

Claire Steiner (00:46:27) - Oh, I didn't hear what Will and James said I was going to say Jamaica.

Ryan Haynes (00:46:33) - Nah. Yeah, well, said Jamaica wasn't it?

Will Plummer (00:46:36) - No. James did.

Ryan Haynes (00:46:37) - Oh James said Jamaica. Will said the Dominican Republic. It's Cuba.

Ryan Haynes (00:46:45) - There we go. All right.

Ryan Haynes (00:46:47) - Well.

Ryan Haynes (00:46:48) - Well, to all three of you, thank you so much for playing along the last six months, up until this summer break. I look forward to catching up with you again. as we come up to the tail end of the year. Otherwise, enjoy your summers.

James Clarke (00:47:02) - Thank you guys.

Will Plummer (00:47:04) - Thanks, Ryan. 

Claire Steiner (00:47:06) - Thanks, everyone. See you all. Have a great summer.

Ryan Haynes (00:47:08) - There we are. And this has been the Travel Market Life. Our review shows that this has been happening for the last six months. If you haven't checked them out, you can go back. You can see some of the trends and conversations that we've been having with some specialists in the industry, as well as our hospitality Review show, where we delve more into the accommodation aspect of travel and tourism. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. Keep tuned for the latest episode coming out.

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