Women are the most powerful consumers in the world. They influence all kinds of markets, especially the travel industry.
American women represent 65% of solo journeys. It takes more than “the top 20” beautiful destinations to encourage women to book their next adventure.
Here’s what you need to know.
According to a booking.com survey American women ranked first in frequent solo travel in comparison to other countries surveyed. They are most likely to take three trips or more in a given year. They use the opportunity to connect with their inner self, wander around at their own pace, and discovering rewarding local activities.
Understanding Female Solo Travelers
Our UX Team was intrigued by how the industry is shifting towards female solo travelers (FST). So we decided to conduct research to understand how they plan and book trips.
For this research we interviewed seven American female travelers ranging from 25 to 40 years old who went on at least three solo journeys a year. Our challenge was to identify gaps and pains in the journey of their planning process, from inspiration, through planning, and the actual trip.
We got lots of observations and feedback from these interviews. We decided to do an Affinity Diagram. This is a method that helps to organize ideas and to find meaningful patterns in qualitative data.
From this diagram, we created this Journey Map,
By selecting and categorizing ideas we came to the following key points, below.
How Female Solo Travelers Manage Their Time Off
We found a relationship of how FST manage their free time and work schedule to make the best of their time off.
We divided them into two categories to understand it better,
- Travelers who have to plan around their work schedule tend to take a combination of days off and weekends to create “extended long weekends.” Typically a four-to-five day getaway.
- Travelers who have flexible jobs, usually women working remotely or by contract, are most likely to go on international trips for a two to three weeks at a time. Some also work for three to four months and then take an equal amount of time off.
How FST Narrow Down Their Options
It’s all about where I am going, rather than If I’m going.
Female solo travelers narrow down their options based on three main variables,
Some destinations are a better fit depending on the season. The Caribbean is obviously more attractive during summer, and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is more enjoyable during autumn.
“Weather is a big thing to me! That eliminates a lot of places that I might have gone to.”
This is a big drive for FSL. Choosing between hiking, yoga retreat, or food related comes from a personal preference.
Like Breana, one of our subjects, who loves the outdoors and goes for destinations that can offer her a great trail like Machu Picchu or attend.
“Most places I go to it’s because I love hiking, everything else is secondary.”
This is where FST funnel down their options. They finally decide on between destinations based on flight price.
“If I can afford the flights at the time, that’s the top indicator of how I decide where I’m gonna go.”
Criteria for Suitable and Affordable Bookings
We found that FST start booking for flights and lodging four months to two weeks before departure. This varies, depending on how familiar they are with the place and the duration of the trip.
When Is the Right Time to Book a Flight?
Trying to predict the right time to book a flight is crucial.
This next flight took me two months to book. I wasn’t sure when the perfect time was.
- 90% of FST use tools like kayak.com and Google Flights to compare prices with multiple flight options and different airlines.
- 10% use a combination of other tools, like comparing previous flights to current prices. They also complement their research with other providers like OTAs, but only to see if they are getting a good offer.
What Is the Best Option for Lodging?
Younger women feel comfortable staying at hostels. Older women find Airbnb more appealing because of low pricing and safety.
There’s two major reasons why the latter prefer to stay at an Airbnb,
- They get to pick the place and can learn about the host beforehand. This gives them a sense of control and safety.
“I use Airbnb because I trust the reviews there a lot more, and if I’m travelling by myself I want to feel secure.”
- Affordable pricing. It’s hard to find an option that is not too expensive for a single person. That’s why this type of accomodation suits their pocket. It also aligns to the way they do budgeting. It fits all their priorities!
“I booked an Airbnb ’cause it was just me. I didn’t need anything fancy, just pretty affordable.”
FST stated that when traveling for leisure they are comfortable staying at an Airbnb but if traveling for work and the company is taking care of payment they will choose a hotel over another type of accommodation.
How Do They Plan Their Budget?
FST don’t really do budgeting, it depends on each traveler’s priorities. Starting with the inspiration stage, they balance their option according to their preferences.
They are satisfied as long as they have a general idea of how much money they are spending. Their priorities change on the go, according to this.
I don’t usually plan a budget, as long as I have a vague idea of how much money I’m spending.
How FST Plan a Trip
Planning depends a lot on how much knowledge and familiarity travelers have with their chosen destination.
For domestic flights and second time visits, they feel they don’t need to have a structured plan. A rough estimate of things is enough.
For international trips and places that are less familiar, they require more detailed planning. This is most likely to be done one to two weeks prior to departure.
Mostly I do a rough estimate of things I wanna do and then pick and choose of what I feel like in that day.
Experienced female travelers feel more comfortable going solo than first timers, They embrace their freedom and go as they feel like.
Sources of Information FST Use to Plan a Trip
If they have previous experience with the destination, they normally don’t do further research. Otherwise, if they need to know more, then,
- They use primarily Google Search and Tripadvisor to learn about what each city has to offer.
- Women traveling solo prefer to get recommendations directly from family and friends.
“I like to get recommendations directly from people I know.”
- Finally, they read reviews in Tripadvisor and LonelyPlanet.
Fulfilled Users Make a Profitable Business
FST are a unique and powerful group in the travel industry,
- Their personal passion drives their choices to their next adventure
- They have their own strategy to get the best deals and get the most of their solo trip
- They trust their “instincts” and focus in their own needs and interests.
They’re also the single biggest solo traveling group in the United States.
If you spend time learning from them, what they do, and how they do it, you’ll be able to generate a satisfying emotional response by eliminating the negatives.
This post attempts to give you solid starting. Keep in mind, however, that behaviors and patterns evolve over time.
If you want to learn more about young travelers and the different markets
in the industry you might find interesting our blog about the considerations to attract young bleisure travelers.
If you want to know more about this topic, be sure to register for our free webinar “How to Reach Female Solo Travelers, the Biggest Market in the US.”
It will take place on Monday July 9th, at 11:00 am PDT. Space is limited, please register.
If you have any questions, go ahead and drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.