Women are choosing their own path in the travel world, whether it be hiking solo or pampering with girlfriends. Those same women are turning to people like Sarah Woodsworth to help them find the trip of a lifetime – so they don’t have to go it alone.
In the travel industry today, we often hear of specializations like adventure, luxury or wellness travel. But there’s another interesting trend coming into high demand: solo female travel. While the idea first really came to the forefront in the Eat, Pray, Love days over a decade ago, Sarah Woodsworth is reinventing the wheel in the Canadian market.
Enter: Soul Sisters Vacations, a new division of Destination Experts dedicated to creating vacation packages for like-minded women who are in search of travel partners. While its tours operate in the broader solo travel space, Woodsworth is zeroing in on a more specific need: to connect women who want to branch out from travelling with their besties or spouses and embrace a different kind of experience.
Soul Sisters is a product of the innovative mind Woodsworth brings to Destination Experts, a company she basically grew up with, given that her mother, Deanna Byrne, founded the company. But it wasn’t a path she herself had initially planned to follow.
After studying film at Humber College in Toronto, Woodsworth explored different avenues within the industry, but she felt like something was missing. So, she made the decision to move back to Nova Scotia.
“What really resonated with me [was] the feeling that I needed to be with my family. I think that coming home changed my viewpoint and I realized the huge value in creating memories and spending time with the people you love,” she says. “That made me realize that what I really wanted to do was help people connect and have those same experiences – whether they be cultural, spiritual or adventure.”
So she joined Destination Experts, playing a supporting administrative role and applying her creative skills to business planning, considering the opportunities for evolution and growth. And the female sole travel trend quickly became obvious.
“We’d been getting a lot of inquiries about women-only travel, so we thought, ‘OK, let’s put this idea (for Soul Sisters) together,’” she reflects, explaining that while women may be more adventurous than men when it comes to international travel, deterrents like limited vacation time, family obligations or budgets can put a halt on arranging the perfect escape. Creating a tour company that brings together women with similar interests – a “readymade group of girlfriends” – seemed like the perfect solution.
“We put it out there for general feedback and it just blew up. We realized there was a need in the market and we’ve just been working at putting packages together ever since,” she says.
“I definitely feel that there is a strong disconnect with people these days,” she reflects. “It’s hard to just get out and meet people and even harder to meet people with like-minded interests. I’m all about connecting with other people, face-to-face interaction and going out and spending time with people – having experiences. My goal with this is to bring people together who have the same interests, who want to travel and be safe. They can have a girl’s trip or maybe they want to go without their partner – either way, they can have their own personal experience.”
Training Destination Experts advisors in all things solo female travel has been a big part of her job in the early launch days of Soul Sister; Woodsworth believes that ensuring their team becomes experts in this specialization is what will set them apart. Right now, Soul Sister Vacations is only available to the Destination Experts network, though that might change in the future.
“They’ll learn the brand and product and be the front line to our customers,” Woodsworth says. “We really can’t predict what will happen down the road, but I’m excited to see this division grow.”
And as for Woodsworth’s own future? She’s not slowing down anytime soon.
“I definitely see myself staying within the company and working on branching out new divisions like Soul Sister,” she tells CT. “This is just our first division, so I’m guessing this will be my baby for the next few years, but I do see myself trying to incorporate as many new and upcoming trends as possible. You have to stay on top of what’s current and what people want. I want to offer new things that people haven’t necessarily seen or experienced before. That’s the goal.”
Talk about girl power.