The Travel Industry Association reports that almost 25% of U.S. travellers have gone solo in the past three years. And cruise lines state that almost 17 percent of their passengers are single, divorced or separated. These numbers are expected to grow as the population ages. So why do so many companies still charge high single supplements and cater for couples, pricing their products on the basis of “per person, double occupancy”?
Most hotel rooms and ship cabins are built with the assumption that at least two people will occupy them. Single supplements range from 10 to 100 percent of the double occupancy rate. They claim that this supplement helps them recover the fixed costs of maintaining the room, such as air-conditioning, laundry and cleaning, which stay the same regardless of how many people use the room. And single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.
HOW TO REDUCE SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS
- Book with an operator that specialises in singles holidays A few tour companies cater exclusively to single travelers, while others offer a limited selection of supplement-free itineraries. These have specialist knowledge and offer beach vacations, tours, adventure holidays and cruises.
- Do your research on single travel terms on Google and you will be amazed at how many travel companies offer reduced or zero single supplements. Did you know Club Med resorts in Bahamas, Brazil, Italy, Martinique, Turkey and Turks & Caicos are specifically geared to singles – and Mark Warner, the UK holiday club operator, has some low-season departures which are free of single supplements?
- Negotiate Holidaymakers have the upper hand over tour operators and hotels at the moment. If you are booking at a time when the hotel is unlikely to be sold out or is offering special deals, phone and ask the tour operator whether it will waive the supplement.
- Cut out the middle man
If you are prepared to book independently, try contacting the hotel by phone or email to negotiate the best possible rate for a single room or single occupancy.
- Travel in the shoulder season
In the Mediterranean and Caribbean that means June, September and October. Many hotels are quieter at these times and more willing to offer better rates for single occupancy.
- Shared accommodation Hostels (and the newer ones are as good as 3 star hotels) charge per person, not per room – but of course you’ll have to share with others.
- Look out for special offers Mainstream tour operators and cruiselines sometimes reduce or waive single supplements as a promotion, especially on last-minute deals. For example, luxury tour company, Abercrombie & Kent have heavily reduced single supplements in 2012 and top Caribbean spa resort and The BodyHoliday in St Lucia has a specials singles month in September
- Find someone to travel with.
- Some tour operators and cruise lines offer a roommate finding service; you can avoid the single supplement if you sign up to be matched with another solo traveler.
- Find a traveling companion from among your usual circles—friends, relatives, Facebook fans, members of your church, club, etc.
- Try a membership organization that matches potential travellers, including Connecting Solo Travel Network, Travel Acquaintance, Travel Chums , Meetup, co.uk and Companions2travel.co.uk. You enrol (with modest fees) and submit a personal profile with a list of places you want to visit. The organization then sends you a list of potential matches, and you can start contacting or even meeting.