Thursday, September 9, 2004

Largest British tour agency drops "single supplement"

A story published today in This is London reports that travel firm Thomson is to axe single supplements amid demands for a fair deal on holidays for increasing numbers of solo travellers.

The UK's biggest tour operator plans to run a 'no supplements' trial this autumn to popular destinations on the Mediterranean coast.

Its move is a bid to attract more young people who want to take a holiday alone or have their own room when with friends without being hit by the extra payments.

The firm's managing director, Chris Mottershead, said: 'We believe the idea of no single supplements will be attractive to more than just your typical singleton.

'It will allow friends to travel together without having to share a room, make independent travel more attractive and flexible, and allow families to invite extra relatives without sacrificing their spending money.'

Single people now represent 48% of the adult population, with the highest concentration in the under 35s and over 65s.

The greatest growth in the percentage of singles has been among those aged 25-34, as many put their career first or save for long periods ahead of marriage and home-making.

Research by Thomson has shown that, overall, 60% of the population would consider taking a holiday by themselves.

There is also an increasing trend for husbands and wives to take a holiday on their own in addition to a traditional summer break together.

Thomson said it would be offering holidays without a single supplement in 70 hotels and apartments across the top five most popular destinations for single travellers.

These include mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands, the Algarve, the Canary Islands, Cyprus and Greece.

All these destinations have proved difficult to sell for the package holiday companies during this summer and the fact that children are back at school should mean that there is spare capacity for singles.

Generally singles on holiday have been hit with a room supplement of 6 to 10 a night, which can add up to 140 on a two-week break.

Often the extra charge actually leaves them in a smaller room with inferior furnishings and facilities compared with the doubles or twins offered to couples and families.

The Thomson deals mean that a single person staying seven nights at the five-star Jandia Princess in Fuerteventura, Spain, will pay from 695 half-board, saving 91 on the normal single supplement charge.

The news coincided with a call by Solo Holidays, a holiday company specifically for singles, for supplements for lone travellers to be dropped.

It published a survey yesterday showing that 42% of single travellers wanted supplements removed.

The firm's managing director Gill Harvey said: 'The single supplement is a huge issue and something we have addressed.

'We have secured deals with hotels to ensure no room supplement is required.'