UK Travel and Consumer Insight During Coronavirus

Every Friday, BVA BDRC, a consumer insights research agency, releases its weekly report tracking consumer sentiment on the impact of the coronavirus. The report is based on an online survey of 500 people who have travelled, visited an attraction or paid for accommodation since the beginning of the year.  

The good news is that the mood of the nation has lifted. Perhaps with talk of exit strategies and lockdowns lifting in other countries but a clear majority has a positive mood with 56% of those surveyed rating 7-10 on a scale. The average mood rating is now 6.5 over taking France with our positivity.

However, 3 in 5 Brits still feel the worst is yet to come, although this is down from 4 out of 5 Brits a couple of weeks ago. 1 in 3 consumers expect life to return to something approaching normal by the end of July, whereas 4 in 5 expect it to be by the end of the year.

Brands that have responded to the crisis with kindness, generosity or innovation have received positive sentiment (EE/National Theatre) whereas those that acted selfishly or with no kindness (Easyjet, have received most negative online comment.

Travel and leisure insights

In terms of travel, the survey asked whether people would be comfortable engaging in several hospitality-related activities within a few months, post-lockdown, such as taking a train, going to a restaurant or booking a UK holiday. 65% of those surveyed said they would be happy, 11% said they wouldn’t be happy until a vaccine or treatment was available and 4% said they wouldn’t be happy unless they and their family were vaccinated.

The majority of people would expect to pay the same once lockdown has lifted for UK bookings (69%) but the average time before considering planning (5.1) of booking (5.5) a UK holiday remains around 5 months away.

30% of people questioned said they are not sure when they will book a holiday again which has actually risen from 23% in the previous week’s report.

Surprisingly city breaks come out on top as the most popular predicated holidays in London and Edinburgh with Cornwall and Devon also mentioned.

What this means for hospitality marketing

While people do think that their travel and hospitality habits will return to some sort of normality, the time this will take will depend on the end of the lockdown period and the Government’s yet-to-be communicated exit strategy.

While the positive uplift in the mood of UK consumers is good news, the Government has said that hotels, restaurants and holiday parks will be amongst the last venues to have restrictions lifted.

Road to recovery

In the meantime, hospitality businesses need to concentrate on the areas of their business that can be controlled and may yield some revenue. Emails and social media are still great ways to promote your brand and we are still seeing very strong engagement on these channels to promote:

Weddings booked long in advance and some hotels offering virtual wedding tours, Unlocking the power of 360 & Virtual Reality video for weddings.

  • Gift vouchers with flexible booking options to be taken any time in 12-18 months
  • Online exercise, yoga and meditation (for those with spas or gyms)
  • At home wellness and health and wellbeing advice/consultations
  • Takeaway food (if your restaurant is offering it)
  • Stay bookings (once travel restrictions are lifted and we are over the worse of the pandemic)
  • Properties are using this time to improve and strengthen their business by developing new websites at this time
  • Many properties which usually close in the winter or for Christmas are also considering extending their seasons/opening to gain from the pent-up demand that will certainly exist

Start the road to recovery