Operators failing solo travellers

If you have ever ventured out on a solo vacation, you would be in good company if you felt like the odd one out, according to research from Lonely Planet.

The travel authority says that while traipsing the world alone is on the rise across age groups and among men and women, those who are intrepid enough to do it feel discriminated against by accommodation and hospitality providers.

Given the surge in solo holidaymakers and the millions made from them by the tourism industry, Lonely Planet believes the sector needs to pick up its game when it comes to looking after wandering singletons.

“Over the coming years we expect the desire to travel alone to continue its growth, setting the challenge for tourism providers to better serve this popular and lucrative travel trend,” said Lonely Planet spokesperson Chris Zeiher.

“Travelling solo can be one of the most rewarding ways of experiencing any destination, and most travellers will find themselves alone on the road at some point in their travelling lives.  Sadly, a significant number of travellers cite a lack of choice or increased cost as a barrier to this type of travel.”

Lonely Planet reported that solo travellers are stung with higher costs than those travelling with family or friends, including an average of nearly 20 per cent on travel insurance and more than 50 per cent on accommodation.

More than one in three Australian travellers who responded to a Lonely Planet survey said they felt disadvantaged when choosing to travel alone. This is despite the fact 85 per cent of those quizzed planned to bite the bullet and holiday solo in the future.

Among the examples of poor service from the industry cited by hard-done-by solo travellers was a lack of choice in organised excursions and second-rate hospitality in restaurants and bars.

“One in two Australian travellers said that they have had to pay a single supplement when travelling alone, and 90 per cent of those surveyed said they would look more positively on a company that did not charge this,” Lonely Planet said.

“Restaurants were also particularly criticised by respondents to the survey, with typical comments involving poor service from staff, being seated in the worst places and even being refused bookings.”

While calls by the publisher fall on the industry’s deaf ears, there is a small light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a guide full of tips for those holidaying alone to make the journey more enjoyable. Lonely Planet has just produced the The Solo Travel Handbook, and you can find out more information on how to get a copy here.

In the meantime, the publisher will continue “calling on the industry to look more positively on those travelling solo, rather than just as single occupants of rooms and dinner tables”.

Have you ever travelled solo and had poor service because you were alone? Or maybe you had a positive experience as a solo traveller. If so, tell us what happened. What do you think industry should do to look after tourists holidaying alone?

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Solo travel safety
Club for those going it alone
Avoiding the solo supplement

Written by Olga Galacho

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