Call it a fallout of social distancing or too much time spent with family, but when it comes to travel, solo trips are suddenly gaining popularity.
Solo travel is typically associated with flexibility, and group tours are seen as rigid. That’s why many prefer travelling solo as it helps them meet new people and open their minds to unique experiences that inspire and enrich them. Says Daniel D’Souza, president & country head, holidays, SOTC Travel, “With the pandemic putting a hard stop on travel, people utilised this time to build their bucket lists that mainly comprised unusual destinations away from crowds and mainstream tourist destinations. Rugged holidays like bike trips over extended weekend holidays and in-depth exploration of domestic locales have made solo travel a segment that comprises explorers and adventure enthusiasts, making them a niche but important set of customers for us. This segment prefers unusual and non-standard itineraries that give them the thrill and adrenaline rush they seek.”
Even the American Express Travel: 2022 Global Travel Trends Report which looks at the motivations and considerations of travellers in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, the UK and the US, reveals that with 74% ready to travel and spend more and book a trip this year, even if they might have to cancel or modify it later, 58% are willing to travel solo to visit their dream destination.
There is a pattern emerging on solo travel in India as well, especially now after the pandemic. Agrees Jaideep Dang, managing director (hotels & hospitality), JLL India, as he feels the two years of working from home and bound by close-knit families have taken a toll on human minds, a major reason why people want to spend some ‘me-time’ and are taking to solo travelling to hills and offbeat destinations.
“In fact, MNCs are allowing flexibility to its employees to work from anywhere. In such cases, corporate employees stay solo at upcountry locations for longer durations with good wifi and mobile connectivity. We see more bespoke and experiential staying options emerging in the last couple of years encouraged by such unique travel demand,” says Dang.
“We have been witnessing a rising trend of solo travellers, especially those who are seeking some quality time by themselves along with a focus on rejuvenation and wellness,” says Rajeev Kale, president & country head, holidays, MICE, Visa – Thomas Cook (India). He shares Thomas Cook India witnessed an increase of 10-15% in bookings by solo travellers in 2021 as compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“Solo travellers consist of 5-7% of the traveller segment and it is growing at an upward of over 15% YOY. Data indicates that solo travel is witnessing an uptick from various segments, including millennials, young professionals and corporate head honchos; also women travellers,” says Kale.
“Our trends indicate that solo travellers prefer eclectic stays and unique experiences to explore hidden gems, something like a stay on a tree top, at the edge of a cliff, lighthouse, and fort in the heart of a desert or bamboo grove,” adds Kale.
Tracking consumer travel sentiment across India, global travel technology company OYO published a Mid-Summer Vacation Index 2022 where 13% of respondents wished to go solo in the peak summer season and over 25% of women would like to go on a solo trip as well. OYO Travelopedia Report 2022 also states consumers intend to head out on a solo trip this year as part of their resolution to scenic locations. “Many travellers have been making most of their work-from-home setup by combining work with leisure and taking solo trips to interesting locations for months. These trends are a testament to the fact that customer confidence is back owing to the rise in demand,” says an OYO spokesperson.
“Quick getaways, local experiences and adventure treks or just vacation time alone are preferred choices for solo travellers. We can see a significant rise in the segment looking to rejuvenate and stay away from daily chores,” says Harkaran Singh, general manager, Hyatt Regency Dehradun.