TORONTO — The news reports coming in from Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands are heartbreaking, and the images even more so.
TORONTO — If you were to evaluate Just You’s growth in the Canadian market, use the following equation: take its total numbers from year two and multiply them by six.
The U.K.-based tour company, which launched in Canada just three years ago, saw an astounding 600% growth from years two to three, solidifying its stance as the market leader in solo travel in Canada. With no direct competitors (it remains the only company in Canada to focus strictly on solos), Just You has set its sights to expand even further, announcing plans to launch in the U.S. next month.
“Solo travel has become mainstream – it’s something that people used to be scared of but now it’s completely changed,” said Nick Roberti, National Sales Manager for G Touring, the sister company of G Adventures that operates Just You. “We can see how much this brand has resonated in Canada. Our staff in Canada has quadrupled in the past year, with two sales reps now on the road. We also have an Inside Sales Manager and our call centre staff has grown to 15 people, going from two to three people from when we started.”
At an industry luncheon in Toronto last week, Roberti highlighted just how big the solo market has become, citing statistics from several sources. According to Statistics Canada, 52% of Canadian adults in 2016 were single, separated, widowed or divorced, while U.K.-based Mitel found that 52% of solo travellers are interested in solo escorted tours. From 2015-2016, Google Analytics reported a 52% increase in searches for female solo travel, and a recent study by Lonely Planet found that 67% of Canadian respondents said that their next trip would be solo.
“All this comes within the last five years, so we’re starting to see this trend explode,” Roberti told Travelweek. “We’re seeing people getting married later in life, there’s a higher divorce rate, which means more people are living on their own and more people travelling on their own. Solo travel is growing so much, it’s really the next wave of travel.”
However, despite this upward trend, Roberti admits to one very big problem: solos still aren’t booking with travel agents.
“It’s the fastest growing trend but the problem that we’re seeing is that solo travellers are not booking through agents. So we need to work together to get people in through the travel agencies,” he said.
According to Just You’s Solo Travel Trends Report, 60% of solos book independently, 28% book directly with tour operators, while just over 11% are booking solo trips with travel agents.
But Roberti is quick to reassure agents: “This just means that there are 89% of people out there who are potential clients, who want to book solo travel. And since over 50% of solo travellers are booking six months to a year in advance, we can start marketing to them well in advance, before they start travelling.”
Here’s how Just You is helping travel agencies capitalize on the solo travel trend:
NEW BROCHURE & TOURS
Dropping today, Oct. 8, Just You’s new 2020 brochure includes seven new itineraries:
• Corfu, Zagori & Meteora
• Splendours of Spain (starting and ending in Madrid and visiting Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Barcelona)
• Istanbul, Troy & Ephesus (Turkey is “coming back with a vengeance,” said Liesa Bissett, Just You’s Product & Operations Director)
• Uzbekistan & the Silk Route
• The Ultimate Italy
• Rome, Naples & the Amalfi Coast
• Flavours of Mallorca
“We’re starting to see a lot of people going to Italy – it was our biggest destination last year. And we’re really starting to see Croatia grow for 2020 dates,” added Roberti. “We have over 150 tours, including seven new ones for 2020. We’re just missing Antarctica right now.”
The average tour size is 25-35 people maximum, with some tours as small as 12 passengers max, depending on the program. All departures in Canada are guaranteed.
SOLO TRAVEL CLUB
Roberti is recommending agencies sign up for Just You’s one-on-one Solo Travel Club planning sessions to “get ahead of the curve” and learn how to effectively target and sell to solo travellers. Noting how every agency is different (“If you’re a travel agent in Peterborough, maybe a newspaper clipping still works but if you’re an agent in Toronto you’ll want a social media-targeted approach”), Solo Travel Clubs are proving to be an effective way for agencies to hone in on solos.
“The top agencies are the ones that have Solo Travel Clubs,” he said. “We work really closely with our agent partners to build out a campaign that will help them really be the leader in solo travel in their town.”
The company will be hosting a series or webinars that include step-by-step instructions on how to start a Solo Travel Club within a travel agency. Webinar dates are scheduled for Nov. 15, Dec. 15 and Jan. 10.
Just You’s new marketing campaign, ‘Just Amazing’, highlights real-life travel experiences and quotes from actual clients who’ve travelled. Available to agents starting today, new and free marketing materials include social media assets for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and websites.
“It’s just drag and drop,” said Roberti. “Agents just drag and drop, put it on their extranet and pull it off to promote solo travel.”
SOLO TRAVEL SPECIALIST
Travel agents can become a Just You Solo Travel Specialist by completing two of the following four requirements:
1) Manage a Solo Travel Club
2) Participate in a Solo Travel webinar
3) Book 20 passengers departing in one calendar year
4) Participate in a Just You fam
As a Solo Travel Specialist, agents will earn a certificate, an email signature asset and priority seating on fams. “But most importantly,” said Roberti, “they’ll experience our product and get the tools and knowledge needed to take over this market.”
Following Just You’s hugely successful fams in 2019 (over 200 agents applied for both Italy in July, and South Africa in August), the company has confirmed two additional fams in summer 2020, with a potential third possibly in the works. As Europe is the company’s top-selling continent, the 2020 fams will take place in Croatia and Spain.
Just You has changed its transfer policy due to logistical difficulties in ensuring that every traveller had a private arrival transfer waiting for them at the airport.
Their solution was to highlight three options in its new brochure:
1) Complimentary group transfer with set times of departure
2) Private meet and greet that are bookable for an additional cost
3) Average Taxi Cost column that provides guidelines on how much cab fare should cost in destination
GUARANTEES & INCLUSIONS
Just You will continue to offer guaranteed departures, guaranteed price promise and guaranteed price match in 2020 and guaranteed loyalty (clients are guaranteed a loyalty reward upon return from a trip). Plus, the company offers protected deposits that secure a client’s investment should they choose to cancel their trip. “We don’t just take their money but keep it on file for two years, which they can use again towards another tour,” said Roberti.
All Just You tours include a tour manager and daily breakfast. “Plus, we never charge a single supplement and everybody gets their own room,” he added.