08 OCT 2019: Solo travel is the fastest-growing trend in tourism and there are great opportunities for agents who jump on the bandwagon, says a tour operator that specializes in the demographic. Nick Roberti, national sales manager for Toronto-based Just You, is quick to point out, “solo does not mean single. Twenty percent of our clientele is married.” He adds “solo” includes anyone who needs to, or simply cares to, travel alone.

Some of the reasons for travellers who choose to go it alone, according to a recent survey, include:

• Not wanting to wait for others (58%)
• Doing what you want when you want (48%)
• Growing self-confidence (28%)
• Different interests than friends (27%)
• Wanting to meet other solo travellers (20%)

Roberti points to StatsCan numbers that indicate that 52% of Canadians are single, separated, widowed or divorced, suggesting that there is a huge demographic to tap into – something the sister company to G Adventures has been doing for 15 years in Britain, and for the last three in Canada. (This November, Just You will launch in the US).

“We’re seeing tons of growth,” Roberti continues, noting that Just You business was up 600 percent in this country in the last year, has quadrupled staff, and is set to add a western rep to ease the load of existing BDM Nicole Harvey

But he adds that though 95 percent of Just You bookings come from agents, a general problem in the solo industry is that agents are not booking through travel agencies (Solo Travel Trends Report 2018). 

The reason, he says, citing a Mintel market research survey, is that “they don’t feel that the trade and travel agents are supporting them – especially on their web sites.”

But with only 11 percent of consumers booking with a travel agent, there is an “opportunity” to capture the other 89 percent, he enthuses.

To that end, Roberti is eager to help travel agencies catch up and maximize the solo travel trend, which is skewing younger, from 64-plus to 45-plus, and which has a two-thirds repeat rate.

As such, Just You offers one-on-one training for agencies, particularly geared to the mechanics of setting up a solo travel club to entice and maintain solo clients; webinars (upcoming: Oct. 11, Nov. 15, Dec. 3, Jan. 10); free marketing collateral; a solo specialist program; and “tons of tools and tips.”

There are also FAMS, including Croatia and Spain scheduled for 2020, and occasional booking incentives ($25/booking in November).

As for booking with Just You, besides being the only escorted tour operator in the market dedicated to solo travel, Roberti says, “Our tours are designed specifically for solo travellers. That is our biggest value proposition.” He adds, “We’re a company dedicated to solo travel, we’re not a sub brand.”

Other features of Just You tours, which number over 150 globally, include group sizes from 12 to 35, all departures guaranteed, the ability to arrange individual airport transfers, specially trained tour directors, some family style meals, no single supplements, free time and add-on tour options, and, especially, individual rooms. “At the end of the day, everybody likes their own space. That’s our major drawing card,” says Roberti.

With the tour op’s new season launching with a new brochure on Oct. 8, seven new tours in Greece, Spain (2), Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Italy (2) will be available.

The company also has a new partnership with social enterprise foundation Planeterra – another G Adventures sibling.

Currently, the majority of tour participants are from the U.K., but Just You product and operations director Liesa Bissett says, “We’re so excited that more Canadians are starting to travel this way.”

And there’s plenty more where they came from, adds Roberti. “The trend has started to explode right now. We know this is the next trend, we know we have to get right on it,” he says. “It’s time to kick ass in the industry and get solo travel into your agencies!”

2a_solo

Liesa Bissett, Nicole Harvey and Nick Roberti

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Michael Baginski

Editor, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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