Travel trends that are shaping UK tourism business
This year is full of opportunity for the Uk’s domestic holiday sector and this established trend shows few signs of changing. We out line some of positive influences identified by the industry press. The background uncertainties boosting this phenomena, both at home and abroad, are best covered elsewhere.
We can identify some broad themes causing UK citizens to spend more time at home. Firstly a desire to cherish what we have whether that is a place, our culture, time with friends and family and secondly the ability to make quick decisions about when and where to go. There is a need for stress free and flexible travel. A run of pretty good and one exceptional summer heatwave has helped the market greatly also.
So things are looking good for the Uk holiday sector. Both here and abroad one of the fastest growing is the holiday home and self catering market.
I believe at the heart of the decision to rent a holiday home is the need to remove stress and replace it with choice. It means the ability to spend the time as you wish and choose the company you keep.
Tourism and marketing expert Dr Sheila Malone of Lancaster University said there had been a noticeable movement in trends following the Brexit referendum.
She told Sky News: “That seemed to trigger a different kind of consumer sentiment in terms of spending – a little bit more cautious, looking for a bit more security in how they (British holidaymakers) are spending their money.”
The increase in domestic trip taking and decline in overseas travel was initially driven by cost, but many other factors have contributed to the continuation of the trend. It includes a preference for multiple short breaks over the year, risk aversion, last minute planning and the need for quality at the right price.
Those who have changed their behaviour to take more domestic trips in recent years are overwhelmingly positive about the experience and are very much open to the idea of England continuing to play a greater role in their holiday repertoires.
There are number of themes driving the decision making process for booking a UK holiday home. Owners who can understand and respond to these will increase bookings and be able to achieve higher rental values.
Focus on curating experiences
While ticking a country off your bucket list is what many people strive for, actually experiencing the location and culture while you are there can give you a more authentic, memorable experience. The research found that 60 per cent of people value experiences over material possessions.
Even though travellers still want their holidays to be pleasure-rich, they also seek pursuits which allow them to express a wide range of interests like learning additional skills, undertaking self-improving activities or trying new experiences.
Over 7 in 10 global consumers claim that entertainment should be about learning new things as much as simply having fun. We suggest that many individuals strive to reflect their wider attitudes and beliefs through their chosen holiday activities, especially as social media constantly increases the pressure to perform by exposing us to others’ meticulously curated profiles.
Travellers expect to be able to more easily take the step from inspiration to purchase, by shopping directly from wish lists and do this seamlessly at the time of booking or nearer the time of their holiday – make it flexible and easy to do.
Pursuit of Real
Genuine, authentic tourism products are preferred by future travellers as they seek to get rid of their “tourist” stamp and experience their destination like a local instead.
Seeking authentic experiences and fully immersing oneself in a local culture and atmosphere, has become a driving force behind the desire for travel for many. 64% of global consumers would go as far as saying that experiencing authentic culture of a place is the most important thing to them when going on a holiday, a figure that rises to 73% in France and 74% in China.
Travellers want to go off the beaten track and understand what it is like to live, feel, eat and drink like a local – and are often consulting these same locals to understand how they can do this.
Ease is everything
In 2019, technological travel innovations that make travelling easier and those who offer practical solutions will be welcomed with open arms. Think keyless access with smartphones, personalised travel tips and real-time weather updates, booking additional services – in house chefs, rental of linen, beach equipment, activities etc.
According to the Booking.com research, 57 per cent of people would like a single app for all their planning, booking and travel needs (for anyone looking for a lucrative start-up) and 31 per cent are keen on the idea of a ‘virtual travel agent’ in their homes, which can help to answer travel queries before you go.
Smaller operators need to find ways to compete with this level of service when it is offered by their larger competitors by clever use of existing apps and social media platforms.
In particular in the current uncertain economic and political climate, travel remains an important and prized release from the daily stresses and strains of modern living: a means through which we pursue fun, seek enjoyable experiences and, more simply, indulge in passive downtime.
For a growing number of travellers, the very concept of holiday time has evolved to encompass a more nuanced and complex set of requirements.
Event and Activity based holiday
The market for activity and event based holidays is growing as are the types of activity involved.
For holidays taken in the last five years, walking and rambling vacations are the most popular activities among the respondents (both in the UK and overseas). A high proportion of domestic holidaymakers also favour hiking and cycling trips, while for those travelling abroad, overland tours and wildlife adventure trips are also popular.
- 52% of respondents have taken a walking/rambling holiday in the UK in the last five years, while 27% have done so overseas.
- 26% of respondents have taken a hiking/trekking holiday in the UK
- 17% of respondents have taken a cycling/mountain biking trip in the UK
In addition to these more traditional activities listed above we have witnessed huge growth in outdoor or ‘wild’ swimming with events like the River Dart 10k attracting 1800 entrants plus supporting friends and family to the Totnes area each September. Look for other events such as music festivals, sports fixtures and anniversaries to focus your marketing activity.
Providing information and facilities for unique and special activities will help paint a picture of the prospective guests experience. Value, for future travellers, will be about more than price. They will opt for trips that allow them to collect as many unique experiences as possible on their journey, without having to invest considerable time and money in getting about.
Finally find your audience and tell your story
Interest in staying at home has made it much easier to find the people with a passion for what you offer. You can engage with them and people like them. Develop a social media strategy to identify where they ‘hang out’ and start conversations there. Post images, tells stories, coordinate and promote with the experience providers your guests have used.
Building your community of friends and ambassadors will strengthen and enrich your other marketing channels creating rich and engaging offer for existing and future guests.
I have been working in the leisure sector for 18 years, as part of 30 year career as a designer. Growing up in Devon means I have seen a lot of changes in the tourism market over the years and have extensive knowledge of the business and the area. If you are facing a challenge or have aspirations to create something magical, please do feel free to get in touch and ask for some free advice.