Can hotels become matchmakers for solo travellers?

Woman using mobile phone at a lobby.

People are travelling alone, and increasingly so. The 2018 Adventure Trends Report said one in four American travellers would have travelled solo in the last year. To accommodate for this, hotels must work out itineraries and offerings that are suitable for individuals, rather than just for couples.

“As this kind of demand continues, tour operators and experience providers will need to make decisions about how they will work with this market," said Jillian Dickens, director, Bannikin Travel & Tourism.

“Will they change policies to attract more, or risk losing the market share because they can’t adapt? What does adaptation look like? How can an industry based on double occupancy cope? Will hotels and ships be built with smaller rooms and smaller cabins to suit the trend?” asked Bannikin.

The current young travelling generation is adventurous, wealthy and eager for something new. With hotels eager to craft unique experiences to appeal to guests, it’s no surprise that some hotels are trying to tap into the matchmaking and dating market, pairing or grouping solo guests together to socialise during their stay.

Marriott’s new Moxy brand went as far as signing an official partnership with the dating app Bumble.

“We believe that you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation. What a better place to put down your phone and meet a connection face to face?” said Toni Stoeckl, global brand leader, Moxy Hotels.

“Many of us are connected to our phones and technology 24/7, so we wanted to work with Bumble to encourage people to feel empowered to take the plunge and reap the benefits of meetings a connection in real life.”

In the United States other brands have made forays into the matchmaking market. The Standard Hotel in New York, for instance, introduced a new app ‘Lobby’, a platform for guests to meet and converse anonymously under an alias, and even plan to meet up if they make a personal connection.

“We’ve created a platform that connects social networking to a physical space all for the purpose of putting your phone down and making a human connection,” said Amar Lalvani, CEO, Standard International.

“We understand that people often become a different version of themselves when they travel, especially when they stay in hotels. They become more adventurous, more spontaneous and more curious. This app is meant to bridge that spontaneity.”

The hotel, however, isn’t a fan of the comparison to Tinder.

These matchmaking initiatives are found at lifestyle hotels like Moxy and The Standard which are targeted at millennial audiences, which makes sense as the reputation of dating apps wouldn’t match the image of traditional five-star establishments.

However, even hotels that don’t offer the service themselves may still have guests meeting on social hotel apps. The app HelloTel, for instance, sells itself as a social network for people staying in the same hotel. Once guests check-in to a property, they will be paired with other guests who have checked in and can interact with other profiles on there however they would like.

And of course, there will always be guests meeting each other in the hotel lobby, especially when specifically designed to entertain modern guests.