Travelling solo: tackling an industry conundrum

Travelling in a two is great, but what about those times when you feel like a few days away on your own? Perhaps the love and light of your life isn’t all that into whale-watching, or maybe you’d rather share the experience with a – heaven forbid – odd number of friends. Tricky, perhaps, when there are single supplements to be incurred. It’s true that, at present, it’s often easier for couples to find the best rates on travel, and we’ve received a lot of correspondence from members who’d like us to challenge this. This is an aspect of the industry we’d really like to shake up and make fairer for individuals, but we don’t mind admitting that we haven’t quite worked out how to yet.

woman stood on open road beersandbeans

The below should hopefully go some way to explaining why – much as we will always try – we sometimes aren’t able to offer discounted rates for solo travellers on our hotels and holidays.

Our rates for hotel-only breaks

As a business, Secret Escapes acts as an agent for the hotels and holidays (holiday suppliers and tour operators) we sell. For hotel-only offers, the hotel gives us a price per room, not per person. We often – though not always – include twin rooms as well as double rooms where possible, and we always give the hotel a chance to give us a rate for single travellers. If a single traveller rate doesn’t exist, it’s because the hotel has chosen not to supply us with one. If we indicate that single traveller rates are available but a price isn’t specified, you can find this price by selecting one adult rather than two when you go through with your booking. We hope to be able to secure more single and twin rooms in the future as we continue to grow our business.

Our rates for holidays with flights

Holidays and tours that include flights or transport (Eurostar, for example) are given to us by the supplier or tour operator in per person rates. As we’re not directly in control of this supply (or directly responsible for filling the plane or train in question), and the price per seat on a plane is likely to fluctuate, we’re usually given prices ‘based on two adults’ because a supplier would rather sell a pair of seats on a plane rather than single seats. We still push for single traveller rates, but this is the most common pricing structure given to us by our suppliers.

If this is a topic that you’d like to have a say on, we’d love for you to leave a reply on the post. We’ll take on board all ideas and opinions so that as we grow our business, we can make sure everybody’s getting the opportunity to enjoy our lovely escapes.

46 Comments

  1. can you keep me informed of any solo holidays especially any to the holy land isreal jordon etc

  2. I often travel solo but it is frustrating to have to pay extra, it definitely feels that you are being discriminated against, so any good offers for solo travellers would be favourably received I am sure.

    • Hi sue
      I feel discrimanated too as most of the nice holidays are for couples. We need to change this but travel agencies need support us
      I travel alone and always willing to share a holiday with someone if the price is right

  3. Susan Hope says:

    As a secondary school teacher and (god forbid) being single, I am hit in the purse at every turn when looking for holidays. I pay a premium because I have to go away during school holidays where the same holiday can be up to three times the price compared to two weeks previous. Then I looked at single travellers companies who endeavour to put together parties for experiences and adventures that are often never during school holidays (unless they are the horrific young teen drinking holidays) and then cost in the thousands which I cannot afford. Flights cannot be booked easily with a package due to the points you make in this article. I am therefore often restricted to the UK and then get told that I have to pay for two people anyway. You can see how frustrating this is and you are right in that I cannot see a way of changing the whole holiday industry, so I shall continue to seek a partner in the hopes I will soon be one of those people who can look at the “romantic retreats for two” holidays and laugh at my single friends who are not going away again that year!

    • Agreed. Great, well said, you so wonderful expressed the position socieity have put us in. We cannot change the industry, but by changing our attitude towards the industry we will change it, at the end.
      In am available to explore your suggestion not to stay single.
      On the other hand, we could book together, share the costs as couple and travel at our own. If the prince on the white horse appears…..that’s the premium side of discrimination. Anyway, who wants to travel,with me?
      Maybe you know the song….one enchanted evening you will meet a stranger…..

  4. Luisa Grandine says:

    I agree with the comments so far made. As a keen traveller I do find it very frustrating. It does feel like society is geared towards coupledom and having to pay extra because you are single does feel discriminatory. Many of the holidays are just too expensive with single supplements in tow so whilst it’s nice to travel with others – sometimes being able to just head off isn’t always possible. Please try and address this if you can – it would make a big difference!

  5. Rose Leyland says:

    I would like to go on a long haul holiday but find there are no single supplements. Whilst I can understand that hotel prices are often per room, why should I have to pay double for my seat on the aircraft?
    I will not, on principle, pay for a seat that I am not allowed to have the use of even if it is just to put my coat!

  6. dana perrin says:

    Travelling on my own is no problem, but as all the above people say the single supplement, is a real pain!

    I would just like to know, if you have any Secret Escapes, in New England, in the lovely old Inns, that they have, and also perhaps in Novia Scotia in Canada, where one could stay in a Log Cabin, and have a chance to visit Wolves and Bears etc?

    Perhaps a Canoe on the Lake also, I know it might be a remote request, but this is something, I have wanted to do, for a long time.

    Perhaps also, a Houseparty Holiday, where single people, can mix, rather like they do in Barbados, in an old Plantation House?

  7. Travel industry is for profit only and not charity . And there is recession. Travel industry especially secret escapes should insist with the hotels, cruise, and flight should not be an issue for single travellers who are in plenty in all age groups with ready finances and no time to adjust with friends or relatives for convenient Secret Escapes!
    Hotels , cruises, flights are never full so the whole industry should manage to fill their gaps of nonoccupancy and zero profit by single travellers with single discounted rates.
    The travel industry can benefit a lot in the time of recession if deals are done for Single travellers were both can profit as the single traveller gets deal and ships, hotels , flights can 100% occupancy.
    The travel industry should realise a big market for single travellers of all ages wheteher students, middle age , young, older group who choose to travel alone and married too who need an escape on their own , widowers, divorced, seperated, single etc.
    This is modern age and people travel alone for various reasons and a new wave of single holidays should be a neccessasity and this wide gap which needs to be targeted and looked into asap by the sleeping travel industry.

  8. Single travellers are becoming the norm, not the minority now, and the hotel industry need to recognise that times are changing and they are losing out on a big sector of their potential customers.

    In such a bleak market, what is the logic of excluding so many potential customers – is it really better to have empty rooms and reduced revenue than having *someone* in that room (and a single person paying LESS, not MORE than if you had two people in that room)? Are housekeeping costs any greater for single guests? If anything I would have thought they would have been the same or less.

    Does the fact that hotels are seeing so many empty rooms – to the point that they’re offering rooms to companies like Secret Escapes – telling them that there’s something with their business model that needs tweaking?

    And hotel companies such as WarnerLeisure are insulting with their website – they quote “per person” but *will NOT* allow you to book for less than 2 people no matter the room type . Their headline rate of £200 per night is actually per person, so a night automatically becomes £400 a night. The message from them is “single travellers simply arent worth it so dont bother”. All right I wont – but I wont lose any sleep if their profits arent what they want neither

  9. And for Secret Escapes: you need to reflect somehow on your emails that single traveller prices are available. All sales I’ve checked out are listed as “based on 2 people sharing” – I’m not going to waste my time trying to check a place out if I’m not going to get any benefit for being a single traveller (e.g. cos I’m going to get charged double price for single occupancy as per warnerleisure). If there’s a chance that they will provide single occupancy raters, I might actually check them out, but I’ll only know from your email.

  10. Mike Marsh says:

    Since losing my lovely wife two years ago I find myself as a reluctant single traveler. As a result I find it very frustrating to be informed that the holiday that appeals is for TWO people
    sharing. I am sure that I am just one of hundreds of widowers and widows who find themselves in the same situation.

    • Yes Mike I feel this too, I am trying hard to find somewhere to go to give me a ‘holiday’, even though its hard, like you losing my husband just over two years ago has made me the ‘single traveler’ now and even harder when you have to pay so much for that extra person who isn’t even there with you anymore. The travel agents don’t help by fighting for all us single people, as there is more money to be made in ‘couples’. I don’t think it will change much either. There are single rooms in hotels and if not then they should build more! I have found more holidays with Mercury Direct to offer me something though. But it may not be the holiday that Secret Escapes could give me its better then nothing I guess.

  11. It’s difficult to find well-informed people for this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanks

  12. I don’t complain too much about the single supplement if it’s reasonable as if the room is for two people and only one uses it the supplier ‘loses’ money, however if there are vacancies for late bookings one would think that the single supplement could be waived or at least reduced to a manageable sum in order to get any booking at all?

  13. I’ve basically never seen a holiday through Secret Escapes that I could book as a single person. I just ignore your emails now. I guess it is a travel industry problem… but if I book through airline and hotel sites I can quite easily book a flight for one person and a room for myself. I just don’t get a good deal. Seems a massively neglected market to me.

  14. I totally agree with all these comments. I am looking to go on a cruise with a couple who are friends of mine and have experienced good and bad cruises, we have searched lots of websites only to find that me being the 3rd / single person a real problem….I really would like to experience a cruise with these good friends of mine if possible.

  15. I would like to see more hotel only offers as then at least solo travellers would not need to buy two flights.

  16. There are more and more of us around – single travellers – the result of increasing divorce rates, people deciding to marry late or not at all – and we get such a raw deal. When is the hotel industry going to wake up and build more single rooms within their hotels?
    Would they rather have empty rooms in this time of economic recession or could they not sell the room (perhaps within the last month) at half the price?
    Come on, be creative!!

  17. I seem to agree with all the previous posts. I usually travel with a friend and we both want a room each, wether we are abroad or in the UK, so unless there are two separate bedrooms with a suite, they hotels are missing out on two bookings. The ‘single’ travellers are increasing and the industry does need to cater for this expanding market.

    If you have any single rooms on offer can you perhaps high light it in your descriptions so that it is easier for us single travellers to find?

    I too would like to be informed of any ‘single room’ offers.

  18. Good to know you are reviewing how to support solo travellers, however solo travelling does not mean I want a twin room or a single bed, it just means I want more reasonable prices!

    Currently the website is not user friendly in terms of identifying single rate available hotels. I have to go into every deal to check, time consuming and mostly disappointing.

  19. How much I agree with all the comments. I retired last year from a demanding, anti-social life in the NHS. I then was involved in caring for a relative during the last year of her life. At last I have the time to indulge myself. I’ve always more or less accepted that my rare holidays and breaks were expensive, the same as maintaining a house on one income is expensive, but now find myself less tolerant of this for all the reasons already stated. It is discriminatory after all. Even the drive for profit shouldn’t be allowed as an excuse.

  20. as parents of an adult with learning disabilities we love to go on holiday with him but have to settle constantly on self catering or the very occasional offer however this is getting increasingly difficult. ecret escapes could help in this by indication up front if this is an option, I have yet to find one of your offers that has a single traveller price.

  21. One thing Secret Escapes could do NOW, is filter the mailings you send out, so those who want have a choice to select a mailing that has a singles option on it. So many times (in fact ALL times to date) I go through looking at a deal, selecting the dates, clicking on the single option to find it isnt available and the deal is no deal at all, so leave it. I will be unsubscribing soon, as havent found a single good deal for a single person yet in over 6 months. I would rather subscribe to a list that has options for singles, than give up th elink to Secret Escapes altogether – maybe it will be a much smaller list, but it is better to have that focus than get excited about deals that really dont apply. Can you do anything on this Secret Escapes?

    • I absolutely agree with just about everything that all the above people have said.
      As another secondary school teacher, I’ve had to put up with all the problems, frustrations and expenses detailed by Susan Hope. But I’ve just retired – hooray! – the world is now my oyster? Sadly, no. There is an army of bloggers here asking Secret Escapes to enable a filter for single travellers. Can this be so difficult? Or – and am I just a cynic – do they want us on here for their numbers to look good?
      I get so desperate I’ll even pay the full room price (after all, I’ve been doing this for years) as long as I don’t have to buy two plane tickets! Yes, I can go to the trouble of ringing a hotel abroad, finding availability, agreeing a rate and booking a transfer taxi. But wait, first I must find a flight that gets me to my chosen destination on roughly the dates I want, before I can book my hotel. But, of course, we singles only buy half the number of meals and drinks and that is often where the hotels make their money so they don’t like us. And I really, really object to paying extra for a rubbish room – up in the attic, overlooking the bins, next to the lift – I’ve had them all. I was particularly impressed by the window which, when I pulled back the curtain had a view of a rock face about three feet away….
      OK, I manage all that and get to my hotel and now I want to go on some trips out and about. I have to search for this at the hotel or in the area. But I don’t have the services of a travel rep who will get better rates for trips, do all this for me and sort out any problems that might occur. Hassle! This was supposed to be a holiday! I just want to be like other people and pop off to a destination with it all organised! Yes, I can and have done it all myself but all I want is a week on a Greek beach and trips to the local ruins and a lazy day on a boat with my brain in neutral. Not much to ask? Actually what I really want to do is see the Northern Lights in Iceland! Secret Escapes has a great offer including tours – fabulous – but no. Only couples….
      Yes, the travel industry is missing a very large, financially lucrative, trick here – thousands and thousands of us wanting to, and able to be, flexible about our travel and often with more disposable income, but almost totally unable to find ways to give companies our money! HELP!

  22. At last – like minded people!! Thanks for addressing this, but I couldn’t agree more with those who say that surely you can filter what we get, it is so disheartening to find holiday after holiday that I would love to take and get all the way through to booking only to find I cant go!!

    After a year on your mailing list I have really been considering unsubscribing, but if you can mail these single traveller offers, then of course it would be great. This is already a very big and really growing market, so in many ways you are missing a trick – take up this baton and become a market leader for all of us
    thanks for exploring this and I look forward to what happens next
    Valerie

  23. Carol Pillinger says:

    I agree with what has been said – if there was a separate page each week which shows offers which allow single that would be really helpful.
    Equally I have asked about a hotel in Christchurch with just room only price and what is to stop me as a single person booking it – it doesn’t give me a single option but when I went to book it doesn’t actually ask how many people are going to be in my room! the hotel will gain as it is supplying breakfast and a dinner for 2 people but there will only be one person!

    Surely Secret Escapes should suggest this to hotels who are pricing by the room rather than per person.

  24. Yes—we want single holidays on occasions—with no supplements and restrictions.
    Eventually some forward-thinking travel company will realise what a big demand there is and provide them……

  25. I am frustrated too as am a single female who like a nice holiday but don’t want to pay extra. Come on secret escape. Help us find a nice deal for single people

  26. Secret Escapes is useless to solo travellers (and there are lots of us). Later marriage, Divorce, Widowhood, business travel, or even among couples or friends – differing work commitments, snoring or other sleep disturbance issues, mean that there will always be hundreds of thosands of peopel who prefer to travel as ” single ” – whethe short term or longer term. WHY doesn;l the industry wake up to this and cater to them? Generally we are reasonably well off . But that doesn’t meant we want to pay almost double! Often we are far more flexible than couples or groups. Because we only have ourselves to sort out, we are genera;hy far more willing and ablel to travel at short notice. Surely that should make us EXACTLYthe right target grop for unssold rooms? Yet you, or those segments of the industry that you represent, don’t offer us any value whatsoever. Yes I can understand why a hotel would prefer to have two people rather thatn one. And if they have no problem filling all their rooms on that basis , good for them. But if a room is unsold would it not be better to have one person in it than none? Hotels need to be built or -re-configured – to include more single rooms. Even within the existing building stock, hotels could consider cahsing in on the flexibility of solo travellers by discounting unbooked rooms, even if rather late in the day. As for Secret Escapes, if would be helpful if you set up a seacch term, “solo friendly”, but only if you have fairly stringent rules about what can be listed. Only options offering genuine deals for solo trafvellers, shoudl be included. Alternativleyh you might consider a “last minute solo” mailing list, via which hotels could offer genuine solo rates on unsold roooms to travelers available to travel within, say, a week or at most a fortnight. This woudld only be useful if you onlyh allow hotesl to be included when they are prepared to offer significant disccounts on the double occupancy rate to last minute solo travellers.

    • Well said! My sentiments exactly. There are so many single people now, you’d think the travel industry would take us into account. Not all of us have families and lovers to go on holiday with. Grrrr

  27. Yep, as a female single traveller I’m fed up with spotting a nice holiday only to find its way beyond my price range due to single person supplement and, often when you’ve paid that supplement, you find yourself in an inferior room because all the best rooms are given to couples or families. Grrrr. I want a decently priced single room for single travellers. I’m not an alien, I’m just like everyone else but I travel alone. Single Escapes looks great and the idea of discount off appeals (naturally!), but if you’re single, will that really pan out?

  28. I fundamentally disagree with almost everything in this blog post. What you are saying is that getting holiday providers to list offerings is more important to you than getting single travellers to buy.

    You could refuse to list offerings that do not include options for singles

    You could take a look at their/your logic for the sham it is. Airlines want to fill planes and need singles to do that, especially on aircraft where seats are in banks of three. Most quality hotels use a double bed as standard; if they have singles, those are the rooms standing empty. It costs less for a single person to occupy a room, not more – less water, less toiletries, less refreshment. Your pricing model could easily be broken into accommodation plus travel: pay for the room as a whole, then pay the travel.

    You are the ones refusing to insist on doing this. Stop blaming the industry. Or admit that single travellers aren’t your target market

  29. Here’s your answer. Why don’t Secret Escapes set up an online blog where a single person can show interest in a holiday and that is flagged up on some database ( not difficult) single travellers can then look at database, and using an on line, blog contact the person and discuss via e mail if sharing their holiday would be viable, and SE can give a small discount for the privilege of two single booking a holiday,,,,simple.

  30. Paul Johnson says:

    what’s the big problem in putting singles prices,is it so hard to do

  31. Paul Johnson says:

    I can stay in a castle/s in Poland for £35 single and hotels for single price

  32. Very annoyed here it does not a lot to put singles prices I don’t want to have ask everytime

  33. Very annoyed here it does not take a lot to put singles prices I don’t want to have to ask everytime

  34. If a site can’t be bothered to put singles prices, I can’t be bothered to use them , please unsubscribe me

  35. Mary Hird says:

    I totally agree with Paul Johnston, and have cancelled my membership. I will continue to do as I have always done, book flights, then book hotels via an agency where it is price per room.

  36. Annoying that single people – and we are in c21st not 1950s – like many single travellers enjoy escaping on holiday on their own. The market is saturated with naff holidays for singles that involve doing group activities ( no thanks) There is a desperate need for sites like yours to make it easier for busy people to book solo escapes on their own without all the ridiculous hoopla, searching and extra charges.

  37. Interesting reading.
    I can understand that some of these deals will be linked to the providers wanting to get the extra spend where two people are travelling.

    I would love to see though, as other people have mentioned, a filter on this site to be able to drop out all the offers that aren’t suitable for those of us single travellers.

    At the moment it makes it really hard to use your site. Seeing a fantastic offer, lovely pictures and descriptions – only to click on “single travellers” to be told: “Unfortunately there are no single occupancy rates available for this offer.”

  38. I couldn’t agree more with all of the comments that have been made on this blog but I can see nothing back from Secret Escapes. When are you going to answer some of these points and explain why you can’t have a filter for those offers suitable for people travelling alone? Over to you Secret Escapes…

  39. Glenys Goodwill says:

    I don’t know what male single travellers are likely to do., but as a single female traveller, I am much more likely to use the hotel bar for safety more than anything else. This way they’ll make MORE out of a single occupant!
    Glenys

  40. I feel the same as many others. There is little point looking at holiday adverts if I can’t book one as a single person. The number of times I have clicked on something on this site only to find what I want is unavailable is far too many. The Search on this site is pretty weak as it is, so adding a single only button to it would get you a lot more business.

  41. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for single travellers

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