I first met Ann Thomas when I stopped by her Singles Travel Company booth at the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show in Long Beach, CA. I noticed that single travelers were flocking around her busy booth seeking information. Ann graciously took some time to talk with me about Singles Travel Company and the tours her company offered. When I stopped by the booth later it was as crowded as it was on my first visit. The obvious interest of travel show visitors in the single and women’s tours offered by Singles Travel Company led me to ask Ann if I could interview her after the show via telephone and email. Following is the interview:
John: I know you had a career as a registered nurse. What inspired you to start Singles Travel Company?
Ann: It started actually accidentally as I was at a singles dinner function sitting across from a travel agency owner and I asked her why she didn’t start a travel group for singles and she asked me why I didn’t. I told her I was a nurse and didn’t know anything about organizing travel. She suggested we meet and discuss it and it just went from there. This is my second business for singles and travel.
John: When did Singles Travel Company begin operating?
Ann: I started it within the year after letting my other company go to my partner right after 9/11.
John: How do you choose destinations for your trips?
Ann: I pick what I think will appeal to the general public with more basic destinations but I also include the more exotic tours for the travelers that have done the usual destinations. Some destinations like Ireland and Italy always sell well.
John: Do you work with in-country tour companies and local tour guides and, if so, how do you choose them?
Ann: I work only with U.S./Canadian based tour operators on a wholesale basis and we use their local in- country companies, tour guides and directors at the destinations.
John: I noticed on your website that you offer free roommate matching. What criteria do you use to match travel partners?
Ann: We are not psychologists so it isn’t a precise science but first it is always same sex, then match as close to age as possible, smoking, no smoking status, and then we look at region of the country or Canada and try and match for that also. Also while talking with the clients we can get a sense of who is more easy-going, etc.
John: In the FAQ section of your website you address the question of double-occupancy pricing? I note that single-occupancy is available to your travelers. Do many travelers travel as single-occupants?
Ann: We get a lot of both. There are some who never will take a roommate as they want their privacy but still want the group experience. Sometimes the single rooms are limited and then it is based on first come, first served. We try and work with companies that can get us more singles rooms as the average tour company limits the single rooms a lot.
John: Language and safety issues are often a major consideration for a single traveler. How do you manage such concerns on your trips?
Ann: We use local guides so of course they speak the language. They also know how to run groups and always keep safety in mind. We usually always try and send a host too as they are there to assist with the clients and this helps with safety issues. They are always briefed on local security issues too and we always remind them to be as cautious on vacation as they would at home.
John: Do you have some tips or guidelines that single travelers may use when choosing their first trip with your company?
Ann: Yes, read all the information that we have provided and call or email with any questions. We don’t want you making a deposit unless you get your questions answered. The more you read the material and ask us questions, the more you are going to be able to decide if this is the trip for you as the more you know the more you can make a good decision on the trip you have chosen. Also if you have never done a group tour, make sure you ask the questions that concern you the most about group travel and ask us what you can expect.
John: Thank you, Ann.
For more information about the singles and women’s tours that Ann Thomas’s company offers please visit her website at Singles Travel Company.