Solo travel is more popular than ever before, especially for millennial and baby boomer women. Although they’re traveling for different reasons, these two groups of women share the desire to travel, even if they don’t have a partner or friend to travel with. While baby boomers have more experience in business travel and more disposable income, millennials are often impulsive spenders and have little extra time to plan. Although these women might be traveling alone, that doesn’t mean they can’t share the adventure with a group.
Phyllis Stoller is the president at The Women’s Travel Group, a leading tour operator for women’s small group trips.
Stoller shares these tips to market your tours to millennial and baby boomer women.
Make women feel welcome
Use photos to show ages, ethnicity and general appearance of the group. If there are no other single women booked on the trip, assist your female client to navigate alone. Comments like “no one eats alone” can help, then follow up and arrange dining company for her.
Women often worry about clothing. Use photos of casual travelers in your marketing. (FYI the average female adventure traveler wears a size 12 and is over 40). If you don’t have photos, take one of your travel gear, or suggest sneakers, khakis, T-shirts, etc. Recently, we had a potential female client who was reluctant to book a China/Hong Kong trip with us. Finally, she shared this question with us: “I wear a size 16, will I be the biggest woman on the trip?” With that question, she was asking: “Will I fit in?” Learn to interpret hesitance and solicit questions from your client. You will get questions about gay women and gay couples joining in. Our answer is always: “We welcome anyone who loves to travel, is punctual, flexible and doesn’t whine.” Most travel insurance today covers non married partners; share that with clients.
Advise wait time for airport transfers and then what to do for a no show. Remember, a solo woman’s phone is her lifeline with the world, so information in pre-trip documents about phone usage overseas is that much more critical. For the boomer, include a primer on overseas telephone usage. For the millennial, share the agency’s or agent’s WhatsApp number. When our group was in Iran, we communicated via WhatsApp, using unsecured public WIFI with WhatsApp’s security.
Consider hotel neighborhoods and layout
The hotel neighborhood determines if a solo woman can walk around. Younger and older women are gym users; they want to know if the gym is attended and not isolated. As a corporate banker in a prior career, my employer (with few women executives), booked me into a 5-star Wall Street hotel. The area was deserted at night, so I never left the lobby. The gorgeous gym was isolated, so I was afraid to use it. What the bank spent was wasted on this solo woman traveler.
Market the hotel lobby’s comfort to your traveler. Younger women are comfortable chatting on a phone in public; older women relax in this ambiance.
Set adequate meal timing
Solo meals are feared. In a recent visit to Carolina Golf School; the package was American Plan. The dining room was full of families and couples; the bar was friendly and had good food. Market the fact that your hotel has venue choices for dining. In that same vein, menus for women should be lighter and lunches should be quicker. Women complain about wasting time at lunch. Market the fact that the itinerary is efficient, but not rushed, with little time wasted. Always include a great dessert at dinner.
Where is a specialist museum? Is there a church nearby? Can I donate to a charity? Take shopping events out of the itinerary, unless it’s at a women’s cooperative. Put in a home visit, a speaker or a woman-friendly experience. In Istanbul, we began our tour at a royal Turkish women’s hammam. This was a female experience in a historic site. Millennials have to-do lists influenced by social media. Boomers have hobbies. Be prepared with answers or sources for both.
Share tipping guidelines
Women are nervous tippers. Our company offers a tipping sheet. It reads: “Included” or “Not Included” and how much and what currency or mix of currency to use.
Marketing to women involves homework, evolving FAQ and What to Pack lists, a sensibility to the poor service often experienced by women, a tolerance for concerns and an ability to motivate a scared, but adventurous client.
For more information about The Women’s Travel Group, call (646) 309-5607 or visit www.thewomenstravelgroup.com. You can also find more travel tips on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/toursforwomen/ and by following them on Instagram at thewomenstravelgroup.