The global travel industry is significantly large at $8 trillion through 2018. While it has undergone changes in the past ten years with companies like AirBnb, low cost airlines and experiential vacations, one trend that is rising among all travelers is solo travel. In a shift, Baby Boomers are beginning to travel solo. A study by Booking.com of 20,500 global travelers that was released in May of 2018 found that there is a surge in solo travel with 40% of global Baby Boomers having taken a solo trip in the last year, and a further 21% planning to take one in the future. And Baby Boomers are not alone.
A 2017 Princeton Survey Research Associates study revealed that 58% of Millennials worldwide are willing to travel alone, compared to 47% of older generations. The study found 26% of millennial women have already travelled solo, while a further 27% t said they haven’t but would consider going on a trip by themselves. Solo travel will be further driven by the Gen Z population.
Gen Z is already on track to become the largest generation of consumers by the year 2022. The new Destination Gen Z report from Booking.com, for example, finds that independence is a top priority for those aged 16 to 24, with 34% planning to travel alone. Travel seems to be winning out in the battle for share of wallet among Gen Z in some surprising ways. While younger people are often presumed to have a burning desire for technology and food-and-beverage experiences, travel ranks as more important than either of those spending options, the Booking.com research shows. And according to a recent Expedia survey, when given the ultimatum to choose between their mobile phone or a travel companion to bring on their next trip, 33% of Americans said they would choose to travel solo with just their device.
Some key themes seem to be rising within solo travel that entrepreneurs should be paying attention to as these trends are creating opportunities. With so many people interested in solo travel, there is natural inclination to perhaps buddy-up or connect with other solo travelers or to utilize a local who could provide a more intimate tour or even be a travel companion for the day. Think of it like an Uber for travel. You are in Rome for the day and would love to hang with a local who can give you an efficient and perhaps more enlightening tour of Rome. This one-on-one type of service would be more personalized that a standard group tour. A recent study seems to support this opportunity.
Mintel’s 2018 Solo Traveler Report found 60% of respondents indicating there is a “widespread belief” that the travel industry does not cater well for solo travelers and that 52% of solo travelers were interested in taking an escorted local tour to enhance their travel experience. This could be driven by the trend of solo female travel.
A search for “solo female travel” returns more than 2.45 million search results on Google. Google Trends has recorded how interest in solo travel has grown steadily over the past ten years while interest in female solo travel has only gained traction since 2013. Google’s Keyword Planner Tool reflects this growing interest too. The average monthly search volume for the term “solo female travel” grew by 52% between 2016 and 2017, averaging 2,900 searches between October 2016 to September 2017.
So, if solo travel is on the rise across all populations and there is a rising trend of solo female travel, there are going to be opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs who can build solutions or services that deal with the following:
Helping solo travelers not get lost.
Safety issues related to solo travel.
Personal tours to enhance the travel experience.
Buddy up solo travelers at the destination.
Helping solo travelers handle any language issues.
A solo trip planning concierge service.
Dining with other solo travelers or even locals.
Sustainability travel experiences just for solo travelers.
The travel industry is huge and all of the current large population groups are traveling more than ever with solo traveling on the rise. Coming out of the pandemic, Gen Z will further push solo travel. If you pay attention to this trend, perhaps you can build a solution and rise along with this industry.