Single travelers face double rates

CNN recently carried a report on an item that has been written about a few times in the past. CNN notes that the “The dreaded single supplement — charging solo guests up to twice a couple’s rate — isn’t new. If you travel by yourself, and stay in a room or cabin meant for two, you’d expect to pay a little more”. New it isn’t as this article in the San Francisco Chronicle published in 2004 points out that ” trip operators impose extra fees known as single supplements. These fees, typically required of those who don’t share accommodations, can add 50 percent or even 100 percent to the double-occupancy price for a tour or cruise”.

However, discrimination against single travelers seems to have become worse as operators seem to view singles as “as suckers” as in addition to asking single travelers to pay twice the rate some operators are levying a penalty! The latest report (rightfully) scathing (treated worse than cargo!) criticism of such discrimination includes examples such as when “Shannon Kovack and her roommate prepaid for a tour of southern India last year. But just before their trip, her roommate broke her wrist and had to stay home. “I was contacted by the tour company and advised that now that I was a single traveler, I would have to pay an additional $2,990,” she says. “I pointed out that our trip was already paid for. Nope, they said — you have to pay the extra.”

Adding insult to injury, some operators and owners of establishments put single travelers in closets for rooms and in tables that are adjacent to kitchens and hidden by columns (and from view). Apart from the practice being patently unfair it does not appear as if it makes good business sense as according to a 2005 survey of travelers four in 10 people vacation on their own. Seems like a business opportunity is there for the picking.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.