Posted in on January 12, 2011

Flying Solo: Baby Boomer Women and Travel

This week in history, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Pacific. Her achievement was one for the record books. Yet even today, it can be a struggle for Boomer and senior women to travel solo. Why? Because the travel industry has typically penalized women (and men) for cruising and vacationing as “singles.”

Some travel experts see signs of change. writes that “solo travelers [will] find a friend”in 2011. They cite innovations such as the Norwegian Epic cruise ship which will feature 128 cabins for singles, and other cruiselines that are incorporating options for parties of one.

It’s about time. Single, mature women are an economic force to be reckoned with.  As Todd Harff wrote in our newsletter:

There are 13.1 million single women over 50. Only 3.6 million are low income. DelWebb, the nation’s largest builder of communities for 50+ homebuyers, reports that more than 20% of their sales are to single women.

Women spend more than $200 a year on girlfriend get-a-ways and 25% have taken a trip in the last 3 years. They spend money on themselves and want to do things with their friends. They are likely to buy fewer but better things.

Boomers as a group are big spenders on travel.  Vibrant Nation found that 42% of Boomer women will spend more than $2,500 per person on every vacation. Imagine the economic impact it might have when the hated single traveler surcharges disappear?

Some tour companies are beginning to remove those surcharges on their packages.  Grand Circle Travel, for one, has long touted its “solo friendly” travel.  And I like the way the straightforward way they market it.  The web page and collaterals for solo travel feature photos of women, alone and in groups. Scarcely a man in sight. Grand Circle offers flexible options so you can decide what you’re comfortable with. They address security concerns. And there’s a prominent link to read solo traveler stories – a good use of testimonials to reduce anxiety.

Do you think this is the year we’ll see the travel industry truly embrace solo, Boomer and senior women? If you have an example of single-friendly/single-unfriendly travel marketing, we invite you to share it in the comments below.


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