renda Elwell is a single mom who
traveled solo with her kids for 20 years but chafed under the
realization that she and single parents as a group were "woefully
neglected by the travel industry."
So Elwell did something about the problem: She wrote what may be
the definitive book on single-parent travel, The Single Parent
Travel Handbook (GlobalBrenda Publishing, Secaucus, N.J.). Agents
can order the book at www.globalbrenda.com at a discounted price of $12.99,
a savings of $5.
After completing her CTC thesis on Marketing Travel to the
Single Parent, she opened her own company, Single Parent Tours.
Family travel editor Kaleel Sakakeeny talked with Elwell about
the needs of the growing single-parent market:
Travel Weekly:You say that more than
one-quarter of all U.S. households with children are headed by a
single parent. How does that translate into numbers?
Elwell: There are 16.5 million single-parent
households in this country and many more noncustodial single
parents. This is a huge "nontraditional" market.
TW:What do single parents want that
they're not getting from the travel industry?
Elwell: The single biggest need is to eliminate
or at least reduce the single supplement charge. About a year ago,
for example, Sandals Hotel contacted me to help them develop a
single-parent family program for their family-oriented Beaches
Their previous attempts at attracting single-parent families
I told them to do three things: Eliminate the single supplement;
create family-fun activities that kids and adults do together; and
create activities where the adults can interact as adults while the
kids are entertained separately.
TW:What's the profile of these single
Elwell: They come from all income brackets, but
typically they're between 30 and 50 years old and take one to two
vacations a year. The majority, two-thirds, fly to their
destination and the other third drive.
TW:How can travel agents best sell to this
Elwell: From a marketing point of view, I'd
look into www.parentswithoutpartners.org, churches and
synagogues. Or agents can come to us.
TW:Let's talk about Single Parent Tours
[Phone: (201) 866-9991; Web: www.singleparenttours.com]. You pay 7% commission but
that includes a commission on meals, as well. How does it
Elwell: As we confirm trips, we post them on
our Web site. We indicate the price for a single parent with one
child or two or three. Agents can book these through us and collect
the 7% on meals and trip price.
To contact reporter Kaleel Sakakeeny, send e-mail to [email protected] .
For more details on this article, see Quality Time crafts programs for single