2024 Women’s Travel Survey: Solo Women, Widows and Multi-Generational Travel Over 50 Growing

by | Jan 10, 2024

A 2024 travel survey by JourneyWoman says the women over 50 market, including solo women, widows and multi-generational travel, is growing.
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Lead image: Tour operators see more solo women, widows and multi-generational travel on the horizon for 2024 / Photo via Envato by crieneimages

Women-owned tour companies planning for growth in 2024

Women over 50 continue to drive growth in the travel industry, according to JourneyWoman’s second annual travel survey of its Women’s Travel Directory partners, which include women-owned and led travel businesses around the world. Conducted in December 2023, the survey shows that 100% of all bookings came from women over 45 (75% from women age 55+, and 25% from women 45-55). A year ago, the same survey showed that 77% of all bookings in 2022 came from female solo travellers age 55+.

Group travel is often the first step for new solo travellers seeking safe, small group experiences designed by women who understand their unique needs. In addition, tour company respondents noted that in 2023, the majority of guests were solo women (including widows), two or more women travelling together, multi-generational travel (eg mother-daughter-granddaughter) LGBTQ+ travellers and those with accessibility needs. While most are experienced travellers, tour operators noticed a trend in newer travellers joining trips.

While cultural tours (including art, history and food) continue to be the most popular travel experiences, tour operators are anticipating growth in wellness and transformational travel, sustainable travel experiences and adventure travel (including hiking and walking). The majority of survey respondents (74%) offer travel experiences in small groups, with less than 20 people.

“As women over 50, we seek travel experiences that transform and empower us on our personal journeys” says Carolyn Ray, CEO, JourneyWoman. “Whether designing experiences for solo women, widows, or women who simply want to travel independently, the women-owned businesses in our Women’s Travel Directory are helping women over 50 travel with purpose, travel safely and make a difference in our own lives and others’ through travel.”

Strategies for Growth: How Tour Operators Plan to Grow in 2024

Sailing the Cusp of Europe and Asia - Swan Hellenic
Asia is a top destination for 2024 / Photo credit Envato

1. Expand to new destinations in 2024

According to the survey, in 2023, women’s tour operators were able to fulfill demand and are now looking for ways to grow their business. Knowing that women over 50 are seeking less-travelled places, more than half (52%) are adding new destinations to itineraries.

In 2024, tour operators are anticipating the most growth in Asia Pacific, including India, Australia and New Zealand. North America, Europe and Scandinavia were tied in second place at 45%.

Approximately 20% of tour operators are expanding their offerings in Africa, and 17% are looking to South America, with Mexico and the Caribbean at 13%. Growth is also expected in the Arctic and Antarctic at 4%.

To support growth, 20% are hiring new people. Only 28% said they were planning to increase prices in 2024.

2. More strategic marketing

When it comes to growth in 2024, tour operators continue to rely on word of mouth recommendations, as well as their own newsletters, media coverage and social media channels. The most popular channel is Facebook (organic, not paid), followed by Instagram (organic, not paid). X (formerly Twitter), Pinterest and TikTok did not rank on the survey.

Most plan to use more strategic marketing efforts, such as JourneyWoman newsletters, website and social media channels, to target women over 50 directly, versus mass media approaches.

According to the survey, tour operators report that women are booking more trips at the last minute, with 12% booking in under a month, and 20% booking in 2-3 months. However, there is a shift out, with 20% booking 10-12 months ahead, up from 3% in 2023. This marks a difference from last year’s study, in which over 60% of women were booking 6 months or sooner with half booking 3 months or sooner.

This indicates that travel companies need both a long and short-term approach to attract women travellers, offering last-minute discounts as well as longer planning cycles for longer, more expensive travel experiences.

Women-owned businesses are supporting women and driving sustainable practices

Most support women-owned businesses

Women make 80% of travel decisions and comprise two-thirds of all travellers.

To empower and support women, 90% of travel companies said they work closely with other women-owned businesses.

They also hire women in their own companies and through local businesses, and hire female guides or porters where available. Most donate funds to causes that support women.

Sustainability is a priority

Women-led travel companies are taking steps to improve sustainability on their trips, with 90% reporting they choose locally owned hotels and work with small, local businesses.

The majority of respondents (84%) offer vegetarian meal choices, 58% have removed plastic bags or bottles, and 53% support environmental NGOs.

Other activities to improve sustainability include incorporating longer stays, reducing buffets and branded swag, and changing itineraries to include train and public transit.

About the JourneyWoman Women’s Travel Directory

Provided as a free service to women travellers, the JourneyWoman Women’s Travel Directory is the only global resource to help women plan safe, women-friendly travel, including tours, retreats, small ships and places to stay. Members are vetted and verified, and include over 100 partners and women-owned businesses, including start-ups, mid-size businesses and larger global brands such as Intrepid, Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Wild Women Expeditions, Girls’ Guide to the WorldWheel the World, Swan Hellenic and European Experiences. Accommodation partners include AccessibleGO, Monastère des Augustines, Trusted Housesitters, and the world’s first women-recommended resource for safe places to stay. To read more about the Directory, click here.

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As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC), Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.

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