More Indians are traveling solo than ever before and it is having a positive impact on the travel industry. As per data from Oyo India, they found an increase of nearly 133% in bookings made by people who travel alone in December 2018, compared to the same month in 2017. And with the increase in the number of women professionals and their level of income, women travelers, especially solo female travelers have grown across the country. Most of these women hail from tier-1 cities including Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bengaluru.
Indian solo travelers are a boon to travel industry
Whether solo travelers book a domestic or international flight, they do impact the travel industry positively, both of their own country and the country they are visiting (if they travel abroad). In an article in Hindustan Times, posted on 3rd August 2019, it was stated that Indian tourists are among the world’s highest spenders per visit made abroad. And total visitor spending is anticipated to rise from USD 23 billion in 2018 to USD 45 billion by 2022.
But where is all the money going?
If you look at the research made by Booking.com in 2017 which surveyed over 15,000 people from 20 countries worldwide including India, it was found that the favorite things about traveling to a new place for the first time include trying local cuisine (53%), experiencing local culture (40%), and being in a new climate (38%). People who travel solo to new places and open their minds to diverse, novel experiences found it inspires life-enriching changes. Not only that but more solo travelers, more flights & travel expenditure boosts the travel industry as a whole.
Solo travelers’s activities creates demand. It involves consumption and commercial activities. Thus, it contributes to the economy of a country or region.
Travelers prefers to experience like a local
In today’s world, most of the travelers like to travel like a local; even when they are traveling to a new place, especially when travelers go solo. These solo travelers are typically outgoing, curious, and adventurous people who like to meet and connect with new people/locals or like-minded travelers during their tour.
Solo travelers are the ones who love to take an off-beaten path while traveling. They go for the public transportation to commute, stay in local accommodations, interact with locals who can direct them to places that are cool and interesting but may or may not often visited by tourists, try out local food, participate in local cultural events or do other local activities to get the real feel of the city or place and gain an insight into the local culture. It gives them the opportunity to learn, discover and enjoy a city just like a local.
Technology empowers solo travelers
In the past, people often hesitated to travel alone to a new city or country, particularly women. There were lots of uncertainties, efforts, and risks involved with traveling to a new country alone. But since technology evolved, it has changed the travel scene altogether. It plays a pivotal role in specializing travel plans and empowering people to stay connected while traveling alone to unexplored territory.
Travelers wanting to make a trip alone to a new destination can have access to all information about a place, including their tickets, maps, and travel guide. There are also solo travel apps through which you can connect with other travelers or locals to gain information about a place or make plans to go on a trip together.
According to research, the majority of Indians traveling alone are as a result of not finding common travel dates with friends. Travel apps such as Xoxo Tours, Meetups, and Tourbar give them a platform to find friends who are traveling to the same destination on the same date. Thus, not having a travel companion is not an excuse to cancel a trip. In recent times, traveling is much more focused on the individual just like technology.
Solo travelers are best at socialising
A good reason why more people are traveling alone is to meet new people and expand their social circle. Social travel is the new norm adapted predominantly by millennials who want to experience freedom, break out of the rut, celebrate individuality, and meet like-minded people.
As per data provided by hospitality chain Oyo India, they saw an increase of nearly 133% in bookings made by solo travelers in December 2018, as compared to the same time in 2017. In fact, the survey conducted by booking.com, a travel fare aggregator revealed over half of India’s population said they are keen to travel solo this year.
Travel and tourism can improve the economy in terms of consumer spending, job creation and more. This sector is especially beneficial for developing and emerging countries as it can offer a great push to the economy. It is driving growth in industries, pushing them and economies to do better.
For instance, travel industry creates several jobs such as tour guide, travel agent, driver, hotel manager, waiter, tour operator, event organizer, chef, leisure activity coordinator, and more. Locals are also able to sell their handicrafts to travelers. In whole, travel industry contributes toward the complete development and growth of a country.
Women solo travelers add value to the travel industry
There are many places in the world where women can go on a trip alone without worrying about safety. In India, several travel industry reports reveal that over 35% of women have taken a holiday on their own over the last two years. The majority of those travelers are from North India.
There are several reasons driving this trend. Women are becoming financially independent and also breaking free from the cultural restrictions that earlier chained them. One factor that also held women back from traveling earlier was safety concerns. But today, with tools such as Google or social travel apps, they can let people know where they are or whom they are with when they travel solo and also ask for help. There are also apps that allow users to find a travel friend for those venturing out alone. Tourbar, Xoxo Tours, and Backpackr are some great apps to meet trip friends.
With increased connectivity, families are increasingly allowing women to travel alone as they feel reassured that staying in touch won’t be a problem. Now, with more and more women traveling alone, many countries, like Vietnam, for instance, are apprehending that women have much greater purchasing power. Women are also ready to go lengths to address their concerns.
The hospitality sector realizes that this is a segment that can fetch huge revenues. Thus, travel companies are increasingly seeking female travelers and are creating special packages for them.
Solo travelers can make an escapade easily
It is very easy now for people wanting to take a break from work or wanting to escape the extreme climatic conditions and travel to new destinations. There are people who make travel plans every weekend or month just to enjoy the fine weather in a new city or country. Some choose to travel yearly. People who live in extremely warm climates are keen to visit colder places during the summer and vice versa. Also, people who are tied to their work and have busy schedules are eager to get away during the weekend to de-stress and recharge their batteries.
No wonder, many hotels offer amenities including spas, pools, coffee shops, and bars. Some hotels even provide cooking workshops, detox programs, yoga, and retreats like surfing that allows travelers to relax and get back on track.
Travel enthusiasts can also meet travel buddy during their trip either by bumping into them in restaurants, lounges or while touring the place. They can also make use of apps that connect like-minded travelers. Either way, making new friends can boost happiness and reduce stress.
People who travel for work can also go for sightseeing in the city if they get some spare time. Social travel apps connects you with travelers or locals in the area who can be your companion or serve as a guide and show you around. It is a great way to refresh your mind and reflect back.
Hotels are capitalizing on the boom
Today, hotels are curated to meet the needs of people who travel alone. Socially minded solos like to stay in hotels with buzzing communal spaces. Many hotels promote their destination’s best social spots and are creating recreation rooms, co-living hostels or a communal table where travelers can mingle. Some hotels host their own social events to make it easier for people traveling alone to make new friends. Also, since safety is a priority for many travelers, hotel owners are going the extra mile to make travelers feel safe.
There are even shared dorms where you can reside with travelers from all across the globe while you stay in the city. Airbnb hospitality service is also coming up in more cities. It helps travel bugs who are concerned about their safety to find accommodation in private spaces. It is safer than staying in random hotels. When travelers use Airbnb, the local people and the communities they live in are the primary beneficiaries.
Travelers have great stories to share
It is always exciting to hear travelers talk about their newest adventures and view their pictures on Instagram or other social media sites. And when they do that, they are letting the world know about a city or country which some people know next to nothing about. Many travelers write about their travel stories in their blogs. Some even come up with inspiring travel books which motivate others to travel. It can often inspire other travelers to visit the places you talk about even if they hadn’t planned for it before.
In some cases, people have misconceptions about certain cultures or the people of a country. Very often, people also hear fabricated stories about places. And at times, some negative aspects of a culture are also stereotyped which puts the people of the country in a bad light.
People who travel alone gets more opportunity to mingle with the locals. They are the ones who get the chance to experience the culture of the country they visit more intimately. Most travelers who travel alone reside in houses provided by the locals instead of tourist hotels either for safety reasons or to get the feel of the place. Thus, they will be able to discover the truth from the correct source and shed light.
When travelers choose to visit those countries which people have misconceptions about, share stories about their travel, and portray the country in a positive light, it will break down cultural stereotypes and clear all the misapprehensions. Thus, people will feel more inclined and willing to visit those places in the future.
Many Indians are choosing to travel alone to discover new destinations. And it is not only men who are traveling. With the world becoming a smaller place because of technological innovations, the number of women solo travelers is on the rise. People can search travel partner with ease by connecting with like-minded travelers from all corners of the world using different platforms and social apps. Travelers also use them to gain information about the places in their bucket list. Even the safety concerns which people earlier had about traveling alone is being reduced by connectivity. As per Klook travel website, there has been a rise in bookings from 22% in 2017 to 26% in 2018 with Dubai, Thailand, and Singapore as major attractions. If you look at all the statistics provided by different sources, it is safe to say that people traveling solo more often in today’s world is a boon for the travel industry.
Are you planning to travel alone any time soon? It is a unique experience which is highly rewarding. It gives you the opportunity to come out of your comfort zone, meet new people, experience new things, and gain insights into a different culture by mingling with the locals and other travelers. And you can also give back for all the privileges that you gain by supporting local business and sharing stories about the country you visit.