The Solo Traveller Report - Accord & Global

The solo traveller.

in partnership with

The solo traveller.

With each year that passes, more and more people are choosing to travel solo. This inclination to go it alone was one of the biggest travel trends of 2018 - and it’s set to continue into this year and beyond. Moreover, today’s solo traveller is no longer defined by their relationship status, age bracket or social circle. Instead, they are increasingly choosing to take a holiday by themselves in order to do exactly what they want, when they want! Of course, sophisticated smartphones, destination apps, inspiring blogs and social media channels all play their part in enabling solo travellers to navigate the world with more ease and confidence than ever before. What’s more, people sharing their pictures and experiences online shows just how feasible it is to go on an adventure alone, inspiring others to follow suit. In this report, we have worked with Global to provide an insightful overview of the solo traveller’s path to purchase and the specific motivations that influence their decison-making.

We hope you find it both interesting and informative.




#1. Experience and willingness - page 6 #2. Motivations and attitudes - page 12 #3. The solo traveller’s path to purchase - page 18 #4. Final words - page 28

Methodology Formed in 2007, Global is the owner of the largest

commercial radio company in Europe. Its stations include Capital, Heart, Smooth, Radio X, Classic FM, LBC and Gold. They curated a 10-minute omnibus survey to an online panel of 22,000 listeners. The survey achieved 2,267 responses.




Experience & willingness: Let’s start with really understanding who is populating the solo traveller market – so we can see if our findings confirm, or contradict, the pre-conceived notion that only the young venture out alone. From backpacking to escorted tours, we learn about different experiences and discover product popularity by age group.



Q: Have you ever gone on holiday/travelling on your own? A: YES

Q: Would you ever go on holiday/travelling on your own? A: YES

22 %

42 %

15 - 24


21 %

25 - 34

46 %


34 %

35 - 44

27 %

45 - 54

48 %


35 %

55 - 64

56 %


31 %


The most notable differences between answers were between generations. Around 20% of 15-24 and 25-34-year-olds answered yes, whereas this increased to over 30% for the 55-64-year-olds and 65+. Age proved to be more of a differentiating factor than gender, with only 2% separating males and females (32% and 30% respectively).

There was a fairly even split between those who have and have not travelled solo (42:58). However, it is the singles, males and over 65 groups who are the most likely to answer yes. Unsurprisingly, results show that age correlates with the likeliness to have travelled alone – with more life experience comes more opportunity to do so.




What type of holiday have you been on solo?

'Walking holidays' was a common answer among over 65s

'Adventure holidays' had the most even reach across age groups

70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

It shows that both relaxing/escapism getaways and experiential, itinerary-filled trips appeal to the prospective solo traveller.

The most popular type of holiday was city break, applying to 54% of all participants on average. Next was beach holiday which was highest among 45-54-year-olds. Out of any holiday type, adventure trips had the most even reach across age groups. ‘Other’ was a particularly common answer for the 65+ group where ‘walking holidays’ were often stated.


City Break

Luxury Hotel

Partying Experiential e.g. volunteer/ escorted

Activity (e.g. skiing, yoga, retreat)


Adventure (e.g. backpacking)











Motivations and attitudes: This section looks at the driving forces that influence people to travel alone and the likelihood of them recommending solo travel to others. By analysing people’s qualitative answers, we can better understand their ‘emotional’ motivations.




The most obvious differences between ratings were between 25-34-year-olds and 65+, married people and singletons, and males and females. Here’s what we found:  71% of 25-34-year-olds rated solo travel 6 or higher; this fell to 40% for 65+.  Positive ratings raised to 66% for single people compared to 44% for those married.  57% of females gave solo travel a 6 or higher rating, and for males it was 48%.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend solo travel to a friend?

53% of participants chose an

Topline results


not at all likely

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

3% 3% 3%

answer of 6-10.




7 8 9 10




very likely





Yes - if so, why? Sense of freedom

Would you ever travel on your own?

No - if so, why? Responsibility vs Personal

The freedom gained from creating your own agenda was an answer apparent across all age groups. Older participants were more likely to lean on circumstantial reasoning i.e. ‘if I found myself alone’ for reasons answering why.


No obligations to others, a free schedule, time to get to know myself.

It appears that younger age groups have more personal concerns against solo travel, with reasons of boredom and loneliness being more prevalent. However, older participants appear to have stronger concerns regarding their responsibility to others. Leaving a partner at home and mobility issues were most apparent in the 55-64s and over 65s.

If there were art/cultural activities that fascinate me and not my husband/friend.


It would be fun and liberating.


I like relaxing on my own. I like my own company. 35-44s


I couldn’t leave my partner behind because we have been through too much together.

It's boring and lonely.


I enjoy my own company and the freedom to go at will.


Solo cruising


The cruise holiday was a popular choice among those explaining why they would travel alone. This is presumably due to assumed levels of safety and sociability a cruise holiday offers - two main concerns of those who would not want to travel alone. One participant stated “I know I can go on a cruise without feeling stupid on my own” (55-64); another said “you get to meet other people when cruising” (45-54).

Not fun. I would't know what to do.

I have limited mobility and a long-term health condition which would make it impossible for me to travel alone.




The solo traveller's path to purchase:


Nowadays the purchase path of today's traveller is anything but linear. The impact of multi-device usage on looking and booking behaviours continues to evolve, providing travellers with more options than ever before in what is now a disruptive consumer journey. As part of this survey, participants were asked to rate the importance of various factors that would influence them to travel solo. The following charts represent those who selected ‘important’ or ‘very important’ for each one. In order to gauge a greater understanding of certain age groups, we clustered influential factors prevalent in the first three stages of the traveller’s path to purchase.








The millennial group consistently placed the highest level of importance on factors within the dreaming stage.


70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Every holiday starts with a dream, so this first step is possibly the most important. Whether they are considering a well- deserved foray into the mountains, a relaxing retreat to the beach, or an exciting adventure in the heart of a bustling city, dreaming of that escape has begun. During this initial phase, travellers are open to inspiration re destinations, products and deals, so it’s key to understand the triggers for their decision-making.

Recommendations from family/friends/colleagues

TripAdvisor reviews

Other online reviews

Social Media posts from solo travellers






Q: How important are each of the following in influencing your decision to travel alone?



59% of 35-44-year-olds rated ‘length of travelling’ as an important factor.


90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Having emerged from the dreaming stage, planning comes next and for brands this is the time to be part of the traveller’s ‘research moments’. At this stage, they are engaged in the process of ruling out competing destinations based on price, accommodation, amenities and level of service (for their budget). We can see that flexibility is more important than distance, with over 30% separating these averages and little disparity between ages.



Length of travelling






Q: How important are each of the following in influencing your decision to travel alone?



Interestingly, ‘opportunity for self-discovery’ was highest among both the 25-34 and 45-54-year-old groups, both over 50%.

Planning (cont.)

80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

As well as planning the ‘rational’ factors such as where to go and how long for, consumers will also be thinking about ‘emotional’ factors. These include opportunities for personal growth, wellbeing and the chance to experience something new. For instance, a solo trip may be the only option for those who are interested in pursuing a particular hobby. It shows that ‘activities on offer’ was important among most participants, with 57% in agreement.

Opportunity for self-discovery

Opportunity for personal growth

Activities on offer






Q: How important are each of the following in influencing your decision to travel alone?



91% of 35-44-year-olds rated price important.


100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

The traveller has now completed the first two stages of their journey and is ready to take the plunge and book their holiday. It is vital, therefore, that the booking process is easy to use, whilst showcasing what differentiates a brand from its closest competitors. At this point, direct comparisons are still being made as customers justify the transaction they are about to make. We can assume from the results that the over 65s may be the most financially free of all age groups, as they place less importance on factors surrounding price.



Economic climate of country visiting






Q: How important are each of the following in influencing your decision to travel alone?



Final words:

 It’s clear that an increasing number of travellers are opting to go it alone and this desire for independent travelling is not confined to the 20-something backpacker as pre-conceived stereotypes may suggest. In fact, it is the older generations that appear most open to the idea, with 31% of 65+ answering yes to “would you travel alone?” compared to 21% of 25-34-year-olds.  Although not as willing, the younger generations are stronger advocates of solo travel, with 71% of 25-34-year-olds rating the solo experience 6 or higher out of 10, compared to 40% of 65+. We know that millennials travel differently to their counterparts and this starts with the importance they place on the first stage of purchase. Moreover, with a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) mantra, millennials are looking for experiences, not souvenirs. They want to feel an adrenaline rush and upload their amazing photographs to prove it. To some extent, this is a generation that is constantly within the dreaming stage, so it is not surprising that this age group place the most importance upon online reviews via comparison sites and personal recommendations via social.

 After dreaming comes planning and booking. The seed has been planted and the wheres, whens and whys are now being well-thought-out. Looking at Global's survey, it is the 35-44-year-olds who place the most importance upon logistical factors here. Presuming they have recently reached a point of starting a family and/or juggling a blossoming career, factors regarding time and money matter the most.  As voiced by participants’ qualitative answers, the willingness to travel solo stems from a desire for freedom. You may assume that this desire lowers with age; however, it is the 45-54-year-olds who are voicing their craving for ‘personal growth’, just as much as millennials. It appears that, at this life stage, where family dynamics and career aspirations are starting to change, this group are seeking an opportunity to embrace uncertainty and go on a journey of self-awareness and reflection.




As the solo travel market expands, it is worth paying attention to the evolving motivations of those willing to go it alone. Messaging at each stage of the path to purchase must be interesting, informative and, above all, personalised – giving consideration to not only age, but lifestyle motivations, both rational and emotional.



Jasman Ahmad Strategy and Planning Director

020 7395 9626


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