How hospitality can attract visitors on staycations

From breathtaking coastline to the gorgeous countryside

Brits are spoilt for choice in the UK to avoid the cost and hassle of travelling overseas. People are booking staycations to these locations in increasing numbers. According to a recent report from hotel chain Travelodge, the UK is a ‘staycation nation’ with 57% of Britons taking their 2018 summer holiday in the UK. They will each spend an average of £823 for one week away, contributing £31 billion to the UK economy – up from £7.2 billion in 2011.

Less hassle at a lower cost

Darren Seward, hospitality and food and drink sector specialist at NFU Mutual, says: “Uncertainties around the economy post-Brexit, and the effect on the pound have made it more expensive to travel abroad, boosting holidaying in the UK. But the popularity of staycations was already rising prior to this, thanks to the reduced hassle of travel and the familiarity of remaining in the UK.”

So what exactly can hospitality businesses do to take advantage of this trend?

1. Think about who you're targeting and tailor your offering. We conducted research into why people choose to holiday in the UK, and found factors such as life-stage and responsibility affect the decision:

  • Older, more affluent holidaymakers: Keen to avoid stressful travel and busy airports – as well as steep travel insurance costs – affluent, older travellers often have more flexibility to travel off-season – so think about offering special discounts to fill your hotel during less busy periods. Coach trips are also popular, so consider arranging day trips to local attractions.
  • Families with young children: Simply loading up the car may be more desirable than tackling busy airports for parents with young kids. Businesses can capitalise on this. For example, Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall declares its love for children on its website. As well as a playroom, children’s garden and cinema, it provides baby-listening, babysitting and children’s tea. During the school holidays, the hotel arranges a children’s club with art and craft activities in the playroom or games on the beach. Of course, hotels must balance the benefit of providing such services with the risk of deterring visitors without children, who may prefer an adult-only stay.
  • Dog owners: Staycations are popular with people who want to bring pets on holiday, especially dogs. This is partly as they see them as part of the family, and also to avoid boarding fees. Recognising this trend, some clued-up hotels are welcoming pets with open arms, providing dog-friendly rooms. Among them is Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa in Wiltshire, which provides a luxury dog basket, food, treats and a toy for guests’ canine companions.
  • Younger guests: According to our research, 18-24 year-olds are the most likely age group to opt to holiday in the UK on the basis of cost. Try buy one, get one free deals, listing on discount websites, offering cheaper types of accommodation, such as glamping, or discounts targeted specifically at locals. For example, Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton offers residents in some local postcodes 10% off the price of their room for stays during Sunday-Thursdays.

2. Promote local suppliers, experiences and events such as good and motoring festivals. Staycationers are often keen to absorb themselves in the local area and its customs. According to our 2018 Hotel Confidence Report, 72% of consumers would be impressed if a hotel promoted that it uses and supports local suppliers.

3. Take advantage of the popularity of last-minute holiday deals. Staycations are often a spontaneous choice, appealing as they require less planning – no flights, passports, currency exchange or hire cars. In fact, our research showed that the ease of planning them at short notice was the biggest driver for choosing a staycation. So try offering last-minute promotions, for example on weekend breaks when warm, sunny weather is forecast.

4. Make it easy to get there. Our research also showed that many holidaymakers stay in the UK to avoid the hassle of travelling abroad, so do what you can to keep their trip hassle-free. If you don’t have sufficient parking on-site, ensure you clearly sign-post an alternative nearby. And consider offering a shuttle service to local railway or coach stations to help guests arriving by public transport.

Staycations are a huge opportunity for hotels and other businesses in the British hospitality industry

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, which champions UK hospitality businesses, says: “Hospitality businesses are essentially the welcoming committee for our cities and towns and help to ensure that guests have a great experience when visiting. With the burgeoning popularity of staycations, local businesses are well-placed to capitalise and evolve their businesses to appeal to this market.”