SOURCE: United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA)

July 14, 2008 10:45 ET

Solving the Single Traveler Dilemma

Look for Guaranteed Shares, Group Travel, Suggests USTOA

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - July 14, 2008) -


--  Over 40% of Americans are single
--  More than 60% of USTOA tour operators offer single shares for solo
    travelers
--  45% of women polled cited safety as a factor in opting for group tours
--  Solo travelers can make up anywhere from 20% - 40% of a given tour
    departure.
    

Over 40% of American adults -- or 90 million people -- are single, according to US Census Bureau figures. Of these, nearly 35 million have taken a vacation by themselves in the past three years, reports the Travel Industry Association. Yet single travelers face a number of obstacles, both financial and emotional, ranging from single supplements to finding themselves the only solo diner in a restaurant.

According to the US Tour Operators Association a growing number of tour operators are responding to single travelers with features such as Guaranteed Shares, where a solo traveler can share a room with another single guest, thereby avoiding the single supplement. If no other willing singles are available, the solo traveler receives double accommodations while only paying for one.

A USTOA survey revealed that more than 60% of responding members offer guaranteed shares. Another 25% of USTOA tour operators report waiving single supplements for some tours, or offering single-room rates. On select cruise tours, too, some companies offer single travelers cabin accommodations with no single supplement on a space-available basis.

When searching for an appropriate vacation package or tour, USTOA advises travelers to:

--  Ask the tour operator or vacation packager whether and/or what type of
    arrangements they have for solo travelers.
--  Find out the typical age range for people taking a similar tour or
    package.
--  Know that tours and vacation packages are typically priced per person.
    However, when tour operators charge a single supplement they are usually
    passing on the rates charged by hotels for single occupancy of a double
    room.
    

The Group Travel Solution

Traveling on a group tour is a convenient solution for many single travelers. Some companies report anywhere from 20% to 40% of their guests as solo, either traveling on their own or meeting up with a friend or family member.

The USTOA web site provides a drop-down listing of members serving solo travelers. Visit www.ustoa.com or www.ustoa.travel, and search for "Singles Travel," under "Special Interest."