The plus size travel industry is something that has been loosely talked about for a number of years but up until now, there’s never been any statistics to show just how important plus size travellers when it comes to the travel industry.
As a plus size traveller and advocate for diversity and inclusivity in travel, I knew this had to be changed. To help change the conversation, I carried out the FIRST EVER survey when it comes to Plus Size Travel in October 2019.
In the past, I’ve carried out research that shows that 95% of travel marketing doesn’t feature plus size travellers and when it comes to accessibility, that number also reflected in how comfortable we feel as we travel. From bigger plane seats to larger towels in hotels, the Plus Size Travel Too Travellers Survey was created to show the industry that they need to start taking note and making some huge changes when it comes to plus size travel.
In fact, 39% of people said that if they’re not made to feel comfortable as a plus size traveller, they’d be put off spending their money with a brand. This ranges from seeing themselves reflected in marketing materials to finding an airline where they don’t need to use an extender.
With 618 respondents in total, the results are definitely eye-opening.
So, Who ACTUALLY Travels?
First of all, the survey looked at who is travelling when it comes to the plus size travel market. With 63% of the UK population identifying as plus size (PwC), it’s incredible to see that 93% of those travelled between September ’18 and September ’19. 69.9% of those travellers are considered to be over a UK Size 20.
Do Plus Size Travellers Feel As Though Bodies Are Represented In The Media?
To put it simply, no.
A shocking 98% of respondents said then when they look at travel marketing, they do not feel as though they see someone that represents them.
Where Are Plus Size Travellers Travelling To?
In terms of plus size travel, Europe and America appear to be the most common choices. Whilst in some cases this may be down to Europe and the USA being slightly more accessible than other places, it may also be reflective of popular travel destinations for UK and European travellers. Despite Asia not being listed as a plus-friendly destination by any of the survey respondents, 12% of people travelled there between September ’18 to September ’19.
How Are They Travelling?
Transport and travel trends are a common topic when it comes to plus size travel and because of that, this was quite a large focus of the Plus Size Travel Too Travellers Survey. The data collected shows the most commonly used modes of transports and the way in which people are travelling, whether that be as a solo traveller, for business or with their family.
What’s interesting is that despite very few planes being accessible for plus size travellers, 89.9% of people travelled by plane during the timeframe set. With very little options in terms of long-haul travel, plus size travellers are having to use solutions that may not be fully accessible to them. Similar can be said for 68.4% of people travelling by train, 56.4% of people travelling by bus/coach and 68.4% of people travelling by boat. Although most travel options make people feel uncomfortable, plus size travellers are having to use them regardless.
In terms of the way in which people are travelling, it’s not surprising to see 44.4% of plus size travellers travelling solo. One of the most common things plus size travellers talk about is not being able to keep up with the people they’re travelling with and as a result, I think a large percentage of plus size people now choose to travel solo.
When it comes to group travel, only 16% of plus size travellers booked a tour between September ’18 and September ’19. This isn’t surprising as group tours are often considered to be inaccessible to plus size travellers due to most aspects being organised in advance by the tour operator. From inaccessible hotels to activities with weight limits, booking a group tour as a plus size traveller is definitely daunting.
The results also show that 35.7% of plus size travellers went on an all-inclusive holiday, yet when you flick through all-inclusive brochures in-store and online, the pictures are not representative of this. The same can apply to the 8% of plus size travellers who booked a cruise. With 39% of travellers booking a holiday based on whether or not they’re represented in travel marketing, these numbers could be much higher.
How Much Are Plus Size People Spending On Travel?
To put it simply, decisions in the travel industry always comes down to whether or not you’re going to make any money. If something doesn’t have a potential return on investment, chances are it’s going to be pushed to the bottom of the pile in terms of priority – which is what has happened in the past when plus size travel is discussed.
Now that there are statistics showing that plus size travellers ARE spending money and that their decisions are directly affected by whether or not they see themselves represented in marketing, it’s time to start showing a true representation of those that are travelling. With 38% of plus size travellers spending between £2500 and £10,000 in 18/19, the potential to increase profits is hard to ignore.
What Do Plus Size Travellers Look For In A Destination?
The last portion of the survey was focussing on what brands and destinations could do to ensure they’re plus-size friendly. To help show what some of the most popular themes were, the responses have been put into a word cloud.
Unsurprisingly most popular words were acceptance, accessibility and comfort. Other themes that appeared regularly were detailed information, zero judgements, plus-size friendly activities and large plane seats. Big towels, strong chairs and disability access also made regular appearances.
This word cloud not only shows what is important to plus size travellers but it also shows that a few small changes could open up your business to a whole new audience. From investing in biggers towels and stronger chairs to providing accessibility information online, there are hundreds of ways you can make plus size travellers feel comfortable when they travel. With very few brands doing this already, it’s time to start changing the conversation and leading the way when it comes to plus size travel.
For more information when it comes to The Plus Size Travel Too Travellers Survey, please contact Kirsty on [email protected]
*This survey was carried out in by Kirsty Leanne and Plus Size Travel Too in October 2019. There were a total of 617 respondents.