Dear Travel Industry,
Hi, it’s me again! I’m the one who has been complaining about the single supplement all of these years, you know, the one you keep ignoring! You really should take me seriously as the number of solo travelers continues to rise. I’ve been reading study after study done on the State of Travel, Trends for 2015, How to Targeting the Traveler Type, etc. and the solo traveler seems to be missing. We aren’t invisible you know, we are out there and after all the years of being ignored, we are finding alternatives in the marketplace who will embrace us (you’ve heard of AirBNB right?). Solo doesn’t mean sad, single people, please erase this image – solo means travelers who don’t have a companion right now – maybe their spouse doesn’t have time off, their girlfriends can’t afford to travel, they are attending a conference or they are divorced, widowed, etc.
We have money to spend, why don’t you want it? I had a wine tour operator in Portland tell me I couldn’t book his Willamette Valley wine tour as he doesn’t allow singles (solo travelers) on his group tours. Past singles made the couples uncomfortable! Really? If they want a private tour, pay for it, otherwise, deal with other travelers on the group tour! I’m not looking to be your friend and talk to you all day because I’m a sad and lonely traveler, more often that not, you will bore me which is why I’m not talking to you. I just want to enjoy the tour, take photos and experience something new on my own.
Cruises, the Single Penalty
With respect to cruises, I know your cruise ships aren’t sailing 100% full and why you continue to want 200% of the fare is ridiculous. I’m not eating twice the food, in fact, I’m spending more on spa services to occupy my time, spending on nicer wine, paying extra for the specialty restaurant, in other words, spending in areas where you actually make money whereas the cabins are generally loss leaders right? I’ve met many couples who pay the base rate and don’t spend a penny more – I’m the more attractive passenger to a P&L balance sheet! Sure you are going to point out those small “solo” rooms on the mega ships is the answer to the demand – not even close, a good start, but you’ve got work to do.
Kudos to those dipping a toe in addressing solo travelers – Azamara cruises have “select” 25% single supplement cruises, the many River Cruise lines which have either eliminated the single supplement or reduced it, Norwegian small solo studios and Holland America debuting solo cabins in 2016. This is just a start – cruise lines do the math and get back to me when you have a last-minute room to fill but without the penalty for being solo.
Flying in the U.S. – Just give me a cookie!
- U.S. Airlines – just give me a cookie, don’t save them for the first class passengers! Cookies are universal, cookies make people happy – the simple pleasure of a chocolate chip cookie should not be underestimated. I always travel with cookies and have shared with others so I know the difference they can make.
- You are making the seats smaller while the average American seems to grows larger and wider – please give me a cookie so I can enjoy the sugar rush and forget about the passenger next to me invading what little space I have now.
- The security lines grow longer – just give me a cookie (or wine) to forget about the invasive pat-down I had. Sure I have Global Entry and Pre √ now so the pat downs are less frequent but I still tend to get tagged for a residue test? Why do you dislike me so?
- I checked a bag hoping to see it when I land – please give me a cookie to calm my nerves at the risk of this venture or better yet, let’s GPS tag my bag. Think of all the cost savings when you stop losing (sorry, mishandling) bags.
FREE WiFi, that’s all. It’s 2015, I can get free wi-fi at my hotel in Easter Island, at the local cafe, the budget hotel and you want to charge me $15+ a day or bundle it into a “resort fee”. I’m choosing to go elsewhere as my loyalty wanes when it comes to wi-fi, please just surrender this fight, the customer has spoken (well we’ve actually screamed, shouted and stomped our feet).
The Airport Lounge – Let’s Get Local
Not all lounges are created equal so paying for a one time visit is a gamble depending on the airport and flight time. My biggest issue with the lounges is that I’d love to see them offer local treats which means in Philadelphia, I’d like to see Herr’s Potato Chips, Tastykakes, PA Dutch Birch Beer (soda), Philly Soft Pretzels, Hope’s Cookies and Asher’s Chocolates to name a few options. All are local to the area and would support local businesses. Imagine if every airport lounge did this, supporting local businesses and making you want to visit the lounge for a regional treat. The BA Lounge in Philadelphia includes local wine from Chadds Ford Winery which is a nice start, although I’m still mad they got rid of the Walker’s Shortbread cookies from the UK.
Rental Cars – All the Little Extras
Can we stop saying “$19/day” when you and I know that with the myriad of taxes and fees, it’s close to “$50+” a day. Sure you want to be transparent with your fees but the ten lines of taxes and fees and the $8 per gallon fuel purchase option is absurd. Off airport, gas is $2.50 a gallon, I’m happy to pay for a convenience if I can’t refill upon return – can we say $4 per gallon as the leisure traveler fee? Leave the $8 for those on a business expense account.
When I reserve a mid-sized car, don’t tell me how lucky I am that you can give me a full-sized car. I drive mid-sized at home, I know how big it is, how much turning I need and how to park it – full size car will throw me into stress as I worry about misjudging every move. Can you just stock the car I request? I gave you a month’s notice which I think is fair.
So that’s all for now – a few suggestions to make the travel experience just a tad more pleasant – what do you think? Can you send it to your bean counters and crunch the numbers? No focus groups needed as these are all customer focused changes – let’s start with the cookies!