Our top UK travel trends for 2021 and onwards

With CV19 in our midst, the travel industry has changed massively and forever. Guests are extremely cautious and need, more than ever, to trust where they are placing their family safety, money and precious holiday memories.

UK travel is now the normal. ‘Slow travel’ is the new luxury. Privacy and location are key. Our owners are in the perfect place to benefit from the industry changes. It will be hard work, but seeing happy faces will make the effort worth it.

Going forwards into 2021 and beyond, we are hoping for several very successful years.

Without exception, all travel journalists and travel trend websites are predicting the majority of British public to staycation in the UK in rural areas, in private houses – for 2020 and 2021 and at least until the virus has been controlled.

In June 2020, these are the top travel trends that we see surfacing as a response to the COVID19 pandemic.

In summary
People are nervous. Many have had their fingers burnt from unscrupulous holiday companies and trust for holidays is fragile, health concerns are on high alert.

Major travel companies are suffering from lack of transparency. Airbnb Luxe has been cancelled and staff let go. Airbnb itself is struggling to respond and their business model is now fundamentally unsuited to larger group bookings.

In response, people will seek lesser-known places, pay a premium for remote/private places, avoid crowds (and search for services that support that – shopping delivered, chef/massage at home, etc).

  1. These are the top trends we have observed so far:
  2. 1. People will focus on slower travel.
  3. Tim Williamson, Director of Marketing and Content at Responsible Travel, says.“This may result in us wanting to travel to places for a little bit longer, rush around less and try to get under the skin of a place, do some good there, seek less activity and do far less rushing around than before”.
  4. At NFE, we are already seeing this pattern, with an uplift in longer stay requests (2 weeks to 3 months), reduced questions about ‘what to do locally’ and gardens becoming very much more important in the decision making process.
  5. We think the trend will increasingly become the norm’ and, as they have during CV19, people will brag about their ‘slow-time’ on social media. #slowdown #mindfultravel #smellingtheroses

2. Boutique, private properties offering standalone accommodation will benefit the most.

The triple crown of bookings will go to places that are private, have amazing (preferably remote) locations, and are stylish.

Michael Cullen, director of hotel partnerships at i-escape, says “People will rediscover the joys of their own countries. Any stigma associated with not going abroad will have gone. People will discover that staycations can be as fun as going abroad and much less hassle.

At NFE, we have sold out our summer dates for our most private and luxury prices in 2020 earlier than every before and are running long waiting lists. We haven’t done the exact percentages, but a triple volume of requests is our guess. For private houses which have large gardens we have had many requests and bookings are definitely up.

3. People will work harder to seek ‘ultra local knowledge’ from owners/agencies in order to help them fulfil their Slow Travel goals.

Airbnb will loose bookings because people will want to speak with the house owner/agent and develop trust, before they commit money and book.

At NFE we have already seen this trend develop over the last 3 years which is why we have researched and handpicked our blog topics. Interviews with interesting locals, insider knowledge on areas, specific information for picnic spots, rope swings, Easter Egg hunts etc – all of it helps guests know they can trust our advice and rely on us for support and good service.

Having an accessible and visible team will be more important than ever.

4. Major travel companies are suffering from lack of transparency – which is the basis of their entire business model.

For example, Airbnb Luxe has been shelved and the staff let go.
Airbnb itself is struggling to respond and their business model is now fundamentally unsuited to larger group bookings. However for smaller places, millennials and those who can take more risk, will still book on the platform.

We know Airbnb will struggle because in times of stress and uncertainty, people need to discuss bookings with the owner/house representative in person BEFORE they book. The platform is speciflcally set up to prevent this direct contact to avoid owners booking clients in direct and cutting Airbnb out of their income. Previous to COVID19 70% of people wanted to speak to us before booking, but now almost all groups want to discuss the tiniest details. Speaking to everyone who enquires has been our business model right from the start, 7 years ago. We know it makes the difference. We think that owners who have just listed on Airbnb, especially for houses of over 4 people, will struggle with bookings and seek out small agencies once again.

4. Hygiene and cleaning information will be key in the booking process.

At NFE, after the outbreak of COVID19 approximately 80% of people now ask about cleanliness and cleaning procedures before they book.

5. Group sizes will continue to stay small for the foreseeable future, and elderly family members will travel less with their family groups.

At NFE we have observed the group demographics reduce. Family bookings are now just mum, dad and the kids to stay – even in large houses at peak season and for full prices. There is a total focus on family safety, caution and risk adverse travel.

And to gain value for money, people are looking for extra ‘stay at home’ benefits in their holiday accommodation: large gardens, playhouses, dens, boules etc – anything to reduce the amount needed to pack in the car and reduce travel hassle. AND anything that increases the feeling of fun, theatre and play – at their ‘own home’. People are not assuming that any activities will be open or safe so they’ll want to play more at home. Think dressing up supplied for them, props for themed nights, fire pits, fairy lights…

  • 6. People will have less disposable income, but spend it more ‘wisely’, saving for family stays and experiences (at home or just-for-them).
  • Family time will increasingly have a higher ‘value’ for leisure time.

7. Flexible booking policies are key to gaining guest bookings.

People are demanding flexibility and transparency in booking policies. Michael Cullen, director of hotel partnerships at i-escape, says. “Flexible booking policies will become normal as unpredictable travel conditions are likely to continue until at least 2021.”

On social media and in the press, the number of companies caught out with bad cancellation policies (and failing to update them) in the CV19 Lockdown has been enormous. People are very wary about committing money to or through systems that are not sensible and fair. This lack of trust will fuel people to use small agencies where a friendly voice answers the phone, the brand/agency knows the area well and social media posts that prove that local knowledge. And that this is backed up by and this is backed up by fair booking policies.

8. Finally, community, environment and purposeful travel will become more important to people’s decision making.

Brands that lead in these areas of community authenticity and involvement, will be rewarded as guests seek to support trust initiatives and ‘pay back’ or ‘pay it forward’ trust schemes.

 

 

  • And after the virus has been controlled?

    We think the trend will continue after this, with people seeking to holiday with extra support and protection: private houses, rural locations, and importantly ‘accessible support’; ultra local knowledge, face to face support and by phone (not just by internet) – so they feel cared for in these cautious times.

For more information, please read here,

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/travel/a31074386/travel-trends/

and

https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/dream-destinations/travel-trends-2021-a4433721.html

and

New York Times article on Coronavirus June 2020