Why did you set up Two's a Crowd in the first place?
I operated a suburban retail travel agency for several years and many clients of that business were solos. We really struggled to find good tour options for those clients.
The industry is very couples centric and group touring particularly is set up around couples. Put simply, it's not a great experience for a solo to join a group full of couples and see the world.
So I thought, let's do something about it and in 2012 Two's a Crowd was launched with 100 per cent focus on solo travellers.
How did you start off?
Our first trip was a 14-day tour to Myanmar and we had six people on it -all existing clients of the retail travel agency.
By 2015 the solos business had really taken off, so we closed the old retail business and focused entirely on Two's a Crowd.
We now operate more than 30 group departures a year plus river and ocean cruise charters. We have a team of five in the office plus six tour hosts.
What kind of growth have you seen in the sector since you started?
Our business continues to grow steadily each year and our clients now come from across Australia and New Zealand.
Over the last few years we've started getting bookings from the U.S.as well. It's a long way from a group of six on our first tour! Some clients have booked their tenth tour with us.
In 2017 we launched the world's first solos-only river cruise by chartering a five-star river cruise ship just for Two's a Crowd clients. Everyone has their own cabin and there are no couples onboard.
This proved very popular and our fourth river cruise charter will sail from Budapest to Amsterdam in August this year. But we have to keep innovating as the industry is more broadly seeing the opportunity in the solos market. So we have some exciting ideas on the go for 2021!
Solo supplements have always been a bugbear for singles. Are you seeing travel companies being more empathetic to solos these days?
The industry is now focusing heavily on the solos market and the winners are solo travellers. From large tour companies down to smaller specialty operators like us, solos have many more options to choose from compared to eight years ago. And that's a great result.
What kind of speciality services does your company provide?
Our mainstay is small group tours with group sizes averaging 15. Our maximum group size is 20. All clients have their own room and every group is escorted by a Two's a Crowd Tour Host.
More recently we've been chartering river cruise vessels and an ocean cruiser in Fiji, a luxury train through India and barges in France.
Which of your tours are particularly popular?
One of our most popular destinations is Vietnam. It's fantastic for first time solos -great value for money, not too far away and seen as a very safe place. Many of our seasoned solo travellers started with Vietnam and went from there.
Do you think the solo market will continue to grow in the future?
Definitely. The solos market is significant. The 2016 Census revealed that around 25 per cent of households in Australia are occupied by a single person - up from 20 per cent in 1991. This equates to more than two million Australians.
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