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Monday, June 17, 2013

Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ Sees Rise in Single Female Travellers


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First it was visiting the cinema, then it was eating out in a restaurant, now going solo on holiday is fast becoming not only more accepted, but also the preferred option for many women. The number of females travelling alone is on the rise according to figures from Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH), which has seen interesting trends in sole occupancy across the breadth of its diverse portfolio.

Between 2011 and 2012, SLH saw growth in single-occupancy travel across the board in terms of both revenue and number of room nights, with the number of sole occupancy room nights jumping from 4115 to 5841, and revenue from global solo bookings increasing by almost $400,000 year on year. In SLH's core markets*, the surge of female bookings is particularly notable, with a 53% increase in room nights booked by single occupancy females between 2011 and 2012 (from 973 room nights in 2011 to 1489 room nights in 2012), compared to an increase of 38% in room nights by solo males across the same period (from 1648 room nights to 2269 room nights).

According to the '2012 Female Travel & Lifestyle Report' conducted by lastminute.com.au, nearly 50% of Australian women have taken a holiday on their own, with almost two-thirds of those travelling overseas in 2012. From the remaining 50% surveyed, a quarter of the women were excited at the prospect of travelling alone but were too scared to do so, while the other quarter thought it would be lonely and depressing.

Following on from this, Australia is a favourable destination for solo female travellers, who spent in excess of A$50,000 on SLH accommodation in 2012.The UK and USA are the most popular for solo travellers of both genders with 122 room nights in the USA and 844 room nights in the UK in 2012, while Germany is the hot country among male independent travellers, spending over US$65,000 in the same year.

In 2012, France was the only country to see a drop in female single occupancy travel with a fall of almost 6,000 room nights year on year. Interestingly, this matches an overall decline in travel to France from the UK according to The Office of National Statistics, which reports a drop of 19% in the number of visits to France from the UK between 2008 and 2012. The UK was the only country to see a fall in male single occupancy travellers in 2012, while at the same time it saw a sharp rise in female single occupancy room nights with a 53% increase. With a 300% increase in single occupancy room nights from 2011 to 2012, SLH properties in Hong Kong saw the largest growth in solo female guests of all other SLH destinations.

SLH hotels across the globe have not only noticed a rise in the number of female guests travelling alone or in all-female groups, but also reported that they are staying for a longer period of time than ever before. According to the results of a survey on female travellers in the UK and US by CAP Strategic Research in 2011, women represent the most important and fastest growing segment of the travel market, in terms of both leisure and business travel. Not only did the survey find that 48% of travel website users are now women, but a significant 66% of women said that travel companies would see an increase in business if they tried harder to serve women travellers. However, as part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World's focus on creating unique luxury experiences for their guests, SLH properties are recognising the potential of this growing global trend and are now actively catering for women travellers. The solo woman is clearly growing in significance for the travel industry and as more women gain the confidence to explore alone, hotels need to recognise the potential of making a concerted effort towards her needs.

Making female guests feel both comfortable and secure are two of the most important considerations when creating the personal luxury experience offered at all SLH properties. Women-only floors, for example, have been introduced at Naumi Hotel in Singapore, Dukes London, and The Chesterfield Palm Beach.

The Capital has created a list of local restaurants and bars that are particularly recommended for solo female travellers, as well as also offering a female private guide to accompany women guests to shops and museums on their first trip to London. For those solo travellers that start to feel lonely, L Hotel Seminyak Bali has the solution by way of 'in room guppy love', where a fish bowl placed in the hotel room to keeps guests' company.

Solo female guests particularly value the services offered by female members of staff, such as that of Madeleine Calon at St James Hotel and Club, the only SLH hotel in London to have a female Head Concierge, who offers recommendations from a woman's point of view. Meanwhile, The Chester Grosvenor finds that the service offered by its female chauffeur is particularly appreciated by women staying alone as they feel more comfortable with a woman in the close environment of a car.

The female perspective offered by women hotel owners also creates an atmosphere particularly conducive to females travelling alone, such as the mother and daughter team at Grand Hotel Majestic at Lake Maggiore and the female owner of The Margi in Athens, where guests can relax in a comfortable and secure environment. Kate Levin, General Manager and daughter of the founder of The Levin and The Capital hotels in London has continued her father's focus towards embracing the female market. With that in mind, 25% of The Capital's room stock has recently been refurbished and put aside for solo travellers.

Packages tailored especially towards its female guests are also a particularly popular offering at SLH hotels, such as The Women's Shopping Package at Das Tyrol, conveniently located on Vienna's longest shopping street, and a Mediterranean culinary journey exclusively for women at La Maltese Estate in Santorini. Grand Hotel Toplice holds a weekly ladies day at the Bled Golf Club, Slovenia's oldest and largest course.

At Hotel Punta Islita in Costa Rica, solo female travellers are encouraged to embrace the local communities surrounding the property. One of the hotel's award-winning outreach programs has developed a group of local women artists, whose expressive art depicts elements of their daily lives and collective experiences through pieces created in the studios of the neighbouring Islita Art Museum. Women travellers can engage in art-making sessions with these local women, creating the opportunity to learn first-hand about the lives and experiences of traditional Costa Rican rural communities.

The trend towards embracing solo female experiences has certainly gone beyond the 'spa and beauty' focus, with Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ taking the lead in providing personal luxury through diverse accommodation choices in authentic travel destinations. While not wanting to single out lone travellers, Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ is ever mindful of individual needs and committed to ensuring not only a comfortable and secure, but also a unique and unforgettable stay.

* SLH Core markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia, UK, USA

For more information on Small Luxury Hotels of the World™, please visit www.slh.com
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