UK Travel and Consumer Insight During Coronavirus Update

How are UK travellers planning and booking domestic trips for Autumn and Winter 2020/21?

New research from Visit England and BVA BDRC reveals the latest trends. 

Data from September 2020 combined with data which has been gathered continuously since March shows the changing trends throughout the year.

As we move into late autumn, the weather is cooling and so is ‘staycation’ fever. Increasingly, people are looking for late availability breaks to visit family and friends or trips to enjoy ‘little bits of luxury’. Come the new year, we expect an upturn in families looking to book UK staycations for the school and summer holidays.

How do people see the current situation for taking holidays and short breaks

Currently, people have very low confidence that life will return to ‘close to normal’ before spring/summer 2021. And a significant number think it will take longer.

This has affected domestic tourism, with many people lacking the confidence to travel within the UK. Only 72% of the UK population are confident in taking an overnight trip from October onwards. This figure would be close to 100% in normal times.

But there is still a good chunk of the population (29%) who are intending to book a trip between November 2020 and Summer 2021.

Government travel restrictions are the biggest deterrent to travel, alongside the fear of catching Coronavirus.

Why people are taking holidays and short breaks

Few people are travelling for business, with the vast majority of travellers on ‘holiday’ or ‘visiting friends or relatives’.

In September fewer holidays were taken than intended, and more travellers (29%) stayed in serviced accommodation to visit friends and relatives.

This is partly due to the ‘rule of 6’ which means that multiple households cannot stay in one house, but visitors can stay in a hotel or similar. 

It is also likely that travel restrictions and Covid-19 outbreaks are deterring people from making long term or lavish plans. Visits to family and friends are generally cheaper and more spontaneous than holidays, and they involve less planning.

What type of accommodation are people staying in when they take holidays and short breaks

More people are staying in hotels and holiday parks than intended to, a partial result of their robust Covid-19 secure measures.

There has also been an increase in country and city breaks, and fewer people are travelling to coastal areas.

These are encouraging trends for the majority of hotels and holiday parks, however there are some factors to bear in mind. Potential guests are concerned about overcrowding, hence the avoidance of popular seaside destinations. They also continue to be wary of accommodation being too expensive or not Covid-19 secure.

The groups of people who are taking holidays and short breaks

Interestingly, more families and pre-nesters intend to take a holiday in October and the Winter than intended to in September. 

These travellers are typically under 50 and at a lower risk of Covid-19. This marks a shift in off-season UK hospitality. The over 50s have more money and time to spend on travel than any other group. But in this uncertain climate younger and less afluent demographics are the most willing to travel.

Where are people staying when they take holidays and short breaks

The remoter reaches are the UK are the most popular destinations this autumn. The South West is the UK’s leading destination for autumn breaks followed by the North West. 

Coastal and countryside areas are the most popular destinations for autumn.

What are the conditions for people staying when they take holidays and short breaks

As we have reported all year, potential guests are looking for reassurance across a range of measures. Unsurprisingly, many of these are around Covid-19 security as well as flexible cancellations. 

Reassuring hospitality guests and staff blog.

Using the above date, a key marketing target would be:

Demographic: Under 50s with/without children

Messaging: “escape to the fresh air (coast and countryside)” and “visit loved ones safely”

Messaging: Lots of Covid-19 secure messaging, and flexible booking/cancellations

Offers: promote late availability for Autumn and Spring booking and staycations for Spring/Summer 2021

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