Jules Verne has seen a 5% increase in solo travel bookings since 2019, which is less than half of what some other travel companies are currently reporting during the post-pandemic increase in solo travel. However, this doesn’t worry the small group, escorted tour operator because they have long been ahead of the solo travel trend. Jules Verne’s General Manager, Debbie O’Neill says: “It is more a case of the rest of the industry following our lead in catering for solo travellers.”
Currently 37% of Jules Verne customers are travelling solo. This percentage has always been healthy because Jules Verne prides itself on catering simply for people, not differentiating between singles, solos, couples or friends, which appeals to the market.
Since 1978, Jules Verne has worked hard with suppliers to remove the single supplement wherever possible and has long offered a range of departure dates on tours for groups of solo travellers to support the continued demand for solo-only tours.
Debbie says: “Jules Verne’s focus is to support those travelling solo rather than stereotyping the ‘solo traveller’. Our customers are all likeminded people enjoying an escorted group adventure and we have embraced all types of travellers because of this.”
The tour operator has been providing pioneering adventures to new and exciting destinations for 45 years and has always attracted a high percentage of solo travellers due to the assured quality, exciting destinations and small group sizes. “Solo travel is nothing new for us,” says Debbie.
Debbie adds: "Having spent time talking to customers and looking at some recent survey results, 75% of our solo customers are telling us that they want to travel with a mixed group i.e., couples, friends, solos. One solo customer said she ‘couldn’t think of anything worse’ than travelling with a group of other solos.
"I’m wondering if creating stand-alone solo tours is actually adding to the stigma of travelling solo. Why should they be treated differently? We are seeing that many customers travel solo out of choice and not necessity. What matters more to them is travelling with likeminded people. They just want to go on an adventure, regardless of the status of their companions."
Jules Verne solo travel stats 2023
- 37% of bookings are from solo travellers
- 75% of solo travellers prefer a mixed group
- 50% of solo travellers haven’t paid a single supplement
- 55% of tours offer dates with no single supplement
- 65% of bookings are repeat customers
- This year has seen more than 100 bookings from solo travellers through travel agents
- Top solo travel countries: India, Italy, Egypt
Many people choose to travel solo for personal growth and because their friends or partner simply don’t want the same experiences as them. Escorted tours are popular with solo travellers of all ages due to the logistics being taken care of, feeling safer to go to new places in a group, and the option of company.
Jules Verne offers solo–only departure dates on just 30 of their tours but does have solo travellers on pretty much every trip that the operator runs. “Solo customers often ask us if there will be other solo travellers on their trip. They don’t mind going solo but prefer not to be the only one in a group,” explains Debbie. Jules Verne doesn’t even refer to solo travellers as such. “They are just human beings like everyone else on the trip,” says Debbie.
So will Jules Verne be reducing its solo offering? Debbie says: “There is a demand for solo tours, so we will keep the solo departure option open for those who do want it, but we won’t expand the offering this year. For us, it’s just not what most of our customers want. We will however continue to push to remove single supplements, as we always have done.”