The COVID-19 pandemic may be the catalyst that brings single supplements to an end.
Owner of African Soulstice, Alessandra Allemann, posed the question to the #tourisminmyblood Facebook group – ‘Are single supplements still relevant today?’
“With solo travel, the cost of the amenities in the room is halved, the solo traveller tends to travel for longer periods and will stay longer in a hotel or lodge,” said Allemann.
According to safari tour operator Timeless Africa’s Founder and MD, Julian Asher, the possibility of an increase in solo travellers post-COVID is very real. He said the first travellers would be “more adventurous people with a higher tolerance for uncertainty and, given the high impact of COVID on older people, they will most likely be on the younger side”.
“There may not be an increase in the numbers of single people travelling, but they could be a bigger proportion of travellers as it may be costly for families to travel,” said Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of aha Hotels & Lodges, James Robb.
He told Tourism Update that aha did charge single supplement fees, particularly at its smaller lodge properties. He explained that in aha’s property portfolio, lower single supplement fees were charged at bigger properties such as city hotels, but that the fee was higher at the more remote lodges as they had higher running costs.
This doesn’t mean that aha is oblivious to rising trends in solo travel. “We have noticed an increase in solo travellers over the last few years,” said Robb, adding that aha has, in the past, created special promotions during which the single supplement fees were waived.
As a former frequent solo traveller, Asher disagrees with single supplement fees, and said he hoped the COVID-19 pandemic would bring about change in the industry. He said 10-15% of his client base were solo travellers, and that his company put a lot of effort into recommending places that are friendly to single guests.
“I do think the idea, and the term, puts off solo travellers. Travelling solo is already expensive as there are a lot of costs, such as transfers, that are more expensive for a solo traveller than they are for a couple,” he said.
He however agreed that a single supplement of around 20% to 25% above the per person sharing rate at small lodges and camps was not entirely unreasonable. He believes accommodations should offer single and double rates without adding the term ‘single supplement’.