A staycation boom: How to sustain demand for holidaying at home

Against all odds, the UK hospitality industry is showing signs of recovery, with 47% of businesses in the sector reporting “high confidence” in their own survival when polled in June, compared to just 39% in April.[1] Moreover, hotel investment volumes for the first half of 2021 have posted a 135% increase on the previous six months.[2]

Much of this activity has been driven by the current popularity of staycations, and as the prospects for international travel continue to be uncertain in the short-term, hoteliers should seize the opportunity to ensure that this recent “staycation boom” is more than just a flash in the pan.

Promoting sustainability

Around a third of consumers are now highly engaged with the issue of reducing carbon emissions,[3] and this proportion is only going to grow in the years ahead. Hotels should therefore ensure that the environmental cost of a guest’s stay does not offset their decision to forego air travel abroad.

For a growing number of people, environmentally conscious eating is now for life, not just Veganuary, and so hotels will need to accommodate guests who will uphold their commitment to sustainable dining even while on holiday. Head chefs can make relatively straightforward decisions such as switching from sous vide to pan cooking to cut down on plastic waste where possible. But they can also get creative, using orange peel leftover from juicing to make homemade marmalade – sustainable and delicious!

Being the best of British

Sourcing ingredients locally will also reduce a kitchen’s carbon footprint, while having the added bonus of giving its guests a real flavour for the local community. This is increasingly important, with “staycationers” keen that hotels capture the essence of the particular corner of the UK in which they are based.

Hotels should leverage their history as an asset, providing the escapism to another time which we could all appreciate after the last 18 months. At Burgh Island, for instance, all our staff are able to talk extensively about the many roles the hotel has played over the years, from the playground of the Roaring ‘20s elite to the writer’s retreat of Agatha Christie. But even new hotels can spark guests’ imagination with a good brand story, as it is the readiness of information which will appeal most to guests.

Highlighting hidden gems

Indeed, hotels should encourage guests to treat remaining restrictions on red-listed destinations not as a disappointment, but as an opportunity to explore the rich and varied culture of this country. And Brits are clearly keen to look close to home, with 73% of respondents to a recent survey saying they were still likely to holiday in the UK even after the pandemic.[4]

Moreover, with the UK boasting nearly 10,000 hotels in a variety of styles and settings,[5] the sector is still a buyer’s market, so those hotels which can showcase their own uniqueness most effectively will be best equipped to strengthen revenue streams in the long term. Hotels should wear their “staycation status” with pride and make sure they are marketing themselves effectively.

Making convenience king

Holidaying on home soil has always had a clear benefit of being more convenient, and hotels will now need to capitalise on this advantage to stave off competition from foreign holidays when travel is released from restrictions. In this digital age, with 90% of people doing all their holiday research online,[6] a seamless website with an in-built booking system should be a top priority.

But that doesn’t mean that the most traditional service can’t sometimes be the most effective. From the first moment of their arrival, an attentive check-in service, best-in-class amenities, and room fit-outs from the very top drawer will all be key to winning guests’ favour and, in the longer term, delivering repeat bookings. After a long layoff, it will be vital for hotels to get the basics right.

By no means an exhaustive list, this general guide should nonetheless provide a basis for post-pandemic success as the hospitality sector starts along the road to recovery. Following these principles will help UK hotels to sustain the staycations boom beyond this most unusual of summers.

[1] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/restored-freedoms-must-pay-off-for-struggling-hospitality-sector-r67273vtv

[2] https://londonlovesproperty.com/strong-outlook-for-uk-hotels-as-investment-volumes-up-135/

[3] https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/sustainable-consumer.html

[4] https://www.accumulatecapital.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Staycations.pdf

[5] https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/ukhotelsin2019and2020

[6] https://www.condorferries.co.uk/online-travel-booking-statistics