[Article Share] – Solo leisure trips are becoming a popular option among the global travel population. Here’s a look at habits of single travelers around the globe.
Solo travelers who stay at the Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, come to experience festivals and other events happening throughout the city. (Photo: Iron Horse Hotel)
By Danielle Hess
GLOBAL REPORT—Younger travelers on a budget from around the globe are taking short trips to visit family, escape routines, explore new cities and more. And in the United States, the number of solo leisure travelers is growing.
Hotel News Now recently spoke with a research analyst and hoteliers about this trend. Here’s a look at who solo leisure travelers are, where they’re from, and where they’re traveling to:
Solo leisure travelers around the world tend to be younger than the average tourist, though there are exceptions, said Mark Blutstein, research analyst at Phocuswright.
“Around 47% (in the U.S.) are 18 to 34, but older travelers still do partake,” he said. “Out of travelers that are 55 and older, about 28% of them will travel alone.”
Jeff Tomczek, director of branding at Two Roads Hospitality, agreed.
“Millennials are traveling alone more than other age groups, though solo travel certainly isn’t exclusive to that demographic,” he said. “Solo travelers have to have a level of comfort and not be intimidated by a new, unknown destination.”
Connie Bolle, director of sales at The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, said most of the hotel’s solo leisure guests are age 30 to 55.
“A high percentage of new, younger and energetic travelers (appreciate) the vintage vibe from our 1907 building and historic city,” she said.
In France, about 53% of solo travelers are between the ages of 18 and 34, and in the United Kingdom, only 35% of solo travelers fall within that age bracket, according to Blutstein. He added that Germany has more solo travelers that are middle-aged than the U.S., France and the U.K.
In the U.S., Blutstein said the solo leisure traveler segment leans more male (50%).
Budget and level of education
According to Blutstein, solo travelers from the U.S. on average earn less than $50,000 a year, which means they’re spending a lot less throughout a trip and aren’t looking to stay at an expensive hotel. He said they’re taking maybe three trips per year that last one to three nights, and “only spend about $1,000 within all their trips throughout the year.”
He added that the majority of solo travelers have a college degree.
“(Solo travelers) are very highly educated,” he said. “That’s just a trend in the U.S. because more people are going to college and getting advanced degrees, and with that, they’re just starting their jobs, so they have a higher percentage in the lower income (bracket).”
In the UK, Germany and France, many solo travelers have master’s degrees, Blutstein said.
Where they stay
Since many travel on a budget, solo leisure travelers often stay with friends and family or in shared accommodations, Blutstein said, but some do stay in hotels.
Phocuswright research shows that 43% of U.S. solo travelers stayed in hotels during trips taken in the last year—compared to 21% in France, 28% in Germany, and 32% in the U.K., according to Blutstein.
Blutstein provided a breakdown of the types of hotels U.S. solo travelers stay in, compared to the rest of the U.S. travel population.
“About 31% of (U.S. solo travelers) stayed at a midscale hotel on their last (solo trip),” he said, making midscale the most popular chain scale for the group.
More solo travelers from the U.S. stay at midscale hotels than they do at budget hotels (23%), but Blutstein said solo travelers are more willing to stay at a budget hotel than the majority of the travel population is.
In line with the general traveler pool, 27% of U.S. solo travel is international, Blutstein said. The difference between the two groups is that solo travelers are more willing to travel to places like Central America, South America and Canada.
Tomczek said Two Roads sees more solo leisure guests at its Thompson Hotels and Joie de Vivre brands, and while most solo travelers stay at urban properties in major cities, some do travel alone to resort properties.
“Thompson Hotels are known for having intimate spaces, bustling restaurants and bars, individuality and a connection to in-the-know experiences,” he said. “No two Thompsons are alike and each celebrates their community through design, restaurant and bar partners, and local amenities and partnerships.”
Tomczek noted that Two Roads has seen “more and more business travelers extending their work trips by a few days to get out of the boardroom and experience the city they are visiting from a leisurely perspective.”
Why they travel
Many travelers choose to fly solo on a trip because they want to be in control of their itinerary and immerse themselves in a new culture, sources said.
Tomczek said solo travelers staying at Two Roads properties want to “feel like a local in the city they visit.”
“They want to dine at neighborhood spots, check out the under-the-radar shows and meet members of area start-up scenes,” he said. “We’ve seen a shift from the relaxed escape vacation to trips that are more dynamic and memorable. This could mean having a meal with a host, learning to surf, attending a yoga retreat or even simpler, like a one-on-one language class or an off-hours tour.”
Bolle said solo travelers at The Iron Horse come to explore the city.
“Milwaukee is the city of festivals—brew festivals, Summerfest, Polish festival and so many more,” she said. “We really have great reasons to celebrate food, different ethnicities and brew cultures.”
Blutstein also said solo travelers are seeking a new cultural experience.
“They want to see the world, so they either want to see natural attractions, cultural history … 24% of solo travelers travel for those reasons,” he said.