According to a recent study (1), the number one travel trend for 2019 is solo travel.
However the tourism industry will need to improve how we respond to their unique traveller needs - according to Mintel (2) 60% of respondents said there is a “widespread belief” the travel industry does not cater well enough for solo travellers.
It’s not just solo-millennials travelling. There has been an upsurge of midults (aged 35 – 58) and baby boomers travelling solo. A study by Booking.com of 20,500 global travellers in May 2018, found 40% of Baby Boomers had taken a solo trip in the last year.(3)
The same study revealed that while travellers were keen to push their limits and seek out new experiences, many (26%) are being held back by niggling travel-related anxiety.
What are solo travellers anxious about?
After hosting over 17, 000 guest nights, our own survey results indicate guests are primarily concerned about their personal safety when travelling alone. Losing travel documents, appropriate insurance cover and food hygiene were also priorities for single travellers.
Approximately 82% of all bookings on our network were made by women - as well as safety and food quality, women were more attentive to details like style, and cleanliness, particularly of the bathroom.
To support this rising trend of baby boomer women who chose to travel alone, Look After Me has introduced health and safety standards that all Homeowners comply with, before they can host our guests.
Our hosts typically have one or two guest rooms, making our Guesthouse-style accommodation best suited for singles, couples and small groups (1 – 4 guests). We now have checklists for important details like mattress and linen quality, adequate space, natural window light and fair prices.
Travelling for a variety of reasons
Women in their fifties, sixties and seventies are increasingly travelling for a number or reasons – for work, education and leisure.
We interviewed Mary Beth Prondzinki, Collection Manager, Natural History for the University of Alabama, who came to New Zealand for the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) Conference, hosted in Dunedin by the University of Otago.
Mary Beth had done some research prior to her trip and expected that New Zealand would be a safe country to visit, but there were still a few surprises.
“I think the weather was damper than I expected and the hills a bit steeper but Kiwis were so friendly and helpful, I didn't feel the least bit concerned anywhere I went by myself.”
Homestay – nice to know someone is looking out for you
Mary Beth chose Homestay accommodation because she felt it was a great way to be introduced into a new country, its people and its history and is a quick way to get to know the place you are visiting.
“Hotels can be quite busy and impersonal, even the small boutique hotels. If you really want to get the lay of the land and a feel for the people who live there, opt for staying in a homestay.”
Mary Beth stayed at Mornington Villa, with hosts Barbara and David. “They were wonderful hosts,” she said. “Although my schedule was jam-packed, it was nice to know that there was someone looking out for me back at the homestay if I were to run into trouble.”
Mornington Villa was close to public transport, so Mary Beth used the local bus service. “Even the bus drivers were more like tour guides when they saw I was from another country,” she said.
“It was great to share breakfast with David and/or Barbara each morning and talk about things to do or what I had experienced the day before.”
They were very helpful with directions, bus schedules and places of interest. I especially enjoyed the jar of Vegemite sitting at my breakfast place each morning, which I enjoyed - much to their delight.
Why our hosts enjoy overseas guests
Barbara and David enjoy hosting guests from all over the world. David says they joined Look After Me because they have have both travelled all over the world and they love meeting people and they've got a lovely home they like to share.
David says "Look After Me" is a movement that focuses on people - the slogan is real people, real places - so we like the idea that guests can pick the room and who they stay with.