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Dining alone: improving the experience of solo restaurant goers

Lorraine Brown (Faculty of Management, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK)
Dimitrios Buhalis (Faculty of Management, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK)
Sean Beer (Faculty of Management, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 13 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Solo travel for leisure and business is increasing. It is therefore timely to conduct research into the experiences of solo tourists. This paper aims to explore one aspect of the solo tourist experience that can be challenging, that of dining alone. This topic has received little attention in the tourism or hospitality literature.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative approach was adopted and narrative inquiry was selected as the optimum route to obtain detailed and rich accounts of the experiences of solo diners. In-depth interviews of 27 solo tourists were conducted with varying socio-demographic characteristics.

Findings

This study shows that though travelling alone is prized by participants, dining alone, especially in the evening, is often discomfiting. Discomfort is caused by the perceived negative judgement of others and is mitigated by the use of various props such as books and mobile phones.

Research limitations/implications

A research agenda is put forward on the aspects of the solo tourist/diner experience.

Practical implications

The paper concludes by asking what can be done to ameliorate the solo dining experience and provides some recommendations to hospitality operators to support this market and improve competitiveness and profitability. The paper shows that inclusive environments can attract multiple market segments and agile restaurants can develop both solo and plural dining experiences.

Originality/value

This paper addresses a topic that has received limited scholarly attention as well as industry engagement despite the growth in solo travel.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Erratum. It has come to the attention of the publisher that the article, Brown, L., Buhalis, D. and Beer, S. (2020), “Dining alone: improving the experience of solo restaurant goers” published in International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management contained an error in the Plate 2. This error was introduced in the production process and have now been corrected in the online version. The publisher sincerely apologises for these errors and for any inconvenience caused.

Citation

Brown, L., Buhalis, D. and Beer, S. (2020), "Dining alone: improving the experience of solo restaurant goers", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 1347-1365. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-06-2019-0584

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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