A survey from hotels.com has revealed that 40% of travellers want to go on vacation solely to meet new people rather than keep to themselves. Jenny Southan reports

After the “social drought” many people have experienced during the pandemic, travellers are now craving social interaction, with almost half (49 per cent) of Brits agreeing hotels are one of the top places to make new friends.

According to respondents, 51 per cent of poeple in the UK saw their social circles shrink as they saw fewer people in-person compared to pre-pandemic. Now, places that allow for real-life connection are high on the agenda.

Hotels.com found that hotels with a pool, spa and even a gym were more popular hotel amenities than free wifi in 2021, with wifi dropping from the fifth-most searched amenity in 2019 to the ninth in last year.

The booking platform has also seen a surge in interest in hotels with social hubs and communities, with searches for London based Citizen M’s and Hoxton Hotels both up over 130% from 2019 versus 2021, for example.

With the desire for new friends comes a whole new wave of “meet cutes”. Almost 29 per cent of British travellers admit they are now more likely to smile at strangers around the pool and bar to start-up a conversation, and the same amount say they want to befriend hotel staff. Half of Brits agree that the most sociable place to meet new people is at the at the bar.

Overall, 54 per cent of travellers say that when planning their future trips, being able to meet new people at the hotel is a key factor. A quarter of people (24 per cent) now prioritise going somewhere social over somewhere secluded, indicating a big shift away from “isolation vacations”.

Emma Tagg, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa PR at Hotels.com Brand, says: “The pandemic has been as tough on personal relationships as it has on travel plans. For future travel, holiday-goers are looking more than ever to make connections with others and pick a sociable hotel as their base.

“Whether it’s to unwind poolside with a cocktail, make small chat while they downward dog, or have someone to get lost with while exploring a new city – travellers are more open than ever to strangers becoming friends.

“You can see that travellers’ priorities are changing. Whilst travel may still be slightly restricted, the future of it is definitely a sociable one.”

Demonstrating the growing trend for solo travel, Hotels.com has seen an 11 per cent increase in searches from Brits for UK-based single room stays (2021 versus 2019) and found that 45 per cent don’t “want their style cramped”, and believe travelling alone is the best way to meet new people.

15 per cent of overall respondents admit the reason they like meeting new people on holiday is to get a shot at a holiday romance.

Searches for destinations such as Mykonos and Hvar have increased, whilst more solo travellers searched for stays in Dubai than in the cities of Paris, New York and Dublin, which were all more popular back in 2019. For solo staycationers, city breaks in London and Manchester remain the most popular on hotels.com.

Although some people like to travel alone, a quarter of Brits choose to travel with a friend. Searches for hostels and cottages are also on the rise, indicating an increase in group holidays.

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