Two very different segments of travel market: underserved

Two segments of the travel market  —  “singles” and “gays” have long gone past being forgotten  —  but new studies may remind providers that perhaps their potential is still not being reached.

The latest census shows that nearly half of Americans 18 and over are unmarried.

“With young people waiting till later in life to settle down and with more boomers retiring and getting their second wind, the travel industry has a lot of potential single clients,” writes Smart Money Magazine.

Research firms Ypartnership and Harrison Group found that 26 percent of leisure travelers took at least one trip by themselves last year — and those with a household income of over US$125,000 took more solo trips than others in their age group.

At a time when others in the travel business are starting to recover, solo-specific tour operators are reporting two or three times as many 2011 bookings as the industry overall.

One group catering to that market, Adventures for Singles, says all its trips for 2011 were sold out. Those trips range in price from $1,000 to $3800, without air fare.

Among the most popular markets for singles has been cruises, and that trend is expected to escalate, say travel experts. That may be true wherever the cruise is going.

“They don’t ask what they’re going to see,” said Tammy Weiler, president of Singles Travel International. “They just want to know who else is going.”

As for gay travelers, a new study found some expected but also some surprising news.

No surprise that San Francisco and New York City are popular with that market.

But the depth of the market was unexpected, said David Paisley of CMI, which did the study.

CMI and a Department of Commerce study found that the gay and lesbian tourism market generates more than US$65 billion a year in the US alone.

Other findings for that market:

-Travel continues to rise despite the economy with both men and women taking an average of more than three leisure trips in the past year.

-When gays become parents, the importance of “family-friendly is even more influential when planning trips.

-In the US, passports are more popular with this group than anyone else. Up to 85 percent of gay men have passports compared to 37 percent of the overall population. That means gay travelers are more inclined to take overseas trips.

-Most travelers prefer to buy directly from suppliers via a website.

-Warm weather is a strong motivation for gay and lesbian travelers.

By David Wilkening



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