"This dual research amongst consumers and UK holiday accommodation owners provides really important insights into the changing needs amongst consumers holidaying in the UK"
New research from building society The Cumberland has revealed that consumers would choose their UK holiday accommodation based on its cleanliness over a good view.
Just 51% say they are looking for a good view when it comes to choosing which property to stay in on their UK holiday this year, with 71% stating that cleanliness is their priority when making their choice of accommodation.
And despite recent government plans to relax foreign travel, the research suggests there is still caution amongst UK holidaymakers, with 84% opting to holiday in the UK this summer. Of these, the survey also revealed that hotels (38%) and cottages (32%) are the most popular types of accommodation, followed by bed and breakfast accommodation (24%).
However, COVID-19 compliance and cleanliness is still dominating their choice of accommodation providers, as 69% say they are willing to pay more for hotels, B&Bs and holiday lets offering these additional services: 38% of respondents said they would pay more for a property which has a COVID-19 deep cleaning service, while 31% would pay more for a property with clear instructions on its COVID-19 guidance.
Perhaps alluding to the increase in lockdown puppies, 16% of Brits say they would pay more if their accommodation was dog-friendly.
The findings from this national survey suggest that when it comes to destinations, Cornwall is the favourite UK destination (17%) with the Lake District proving as popular as Devon (14% each), followed closely by the Scotland (13%), Wales (11%) and East Anglia (9%). However, 32% of consumers indicated they are not planning a holiday this year.
Commissioned by The Cumberland, which has a long-established hospitality lending team, the survey of 1,021 UK adults and 233 UK accommodation owner/managers also highlighted that 86% of holiday accommodation owners say they have invested in their business during the pandemic, with 94% saying they have made a long-lasting, positive change. Four-fifths (80%) said that they had been spending money on being compliant with COVID-19 guidelines, while 71% have been improving their property or services.
“This dual research amongst consumers and UK holiday accommodation owners provides really important insights into the changing needs amongst consumers holidaying in the UK, particularly when it comes to compliance and cleanliness around Covid-19, and also reveals how accommodation owners are adapting to the ‘new normal’,” said Scott McKerracher, Head of Commercial at The Cumberland. “With mortgage customers across the UK hospitality industry, including hotels, B&Bs and holiday let owners, it’s important for us to understand what British holiday-makers are looking for in a staycation, and it seems from our survey that cleanliness is the number one factor - even more important than a sea view - which is perhaps unsurprising after 18 months of people being so aware of hygiene due to the pandemic.”
The respondents were asked about investing in their businesses over the three years 2020-2022 inclusive and from the findings, the consistent turnover figure cited by owner managers as having invested or planning on investing in their properties is 11-20% of turnover. Overall, 94% of those questioned have made a long-lasting positive change to their business as a result of the pandemic. Of this, 55% of respondents said that renovations were the main long-lasting positive changes the pandemic has led them to make to their business. This is followed by process improvements (46%); introducing new services (45%) and new IT systems (34%).
Interestingly just 17% of respondents said they had funded the investment in their business from CBILS* or BBLS*, with over half (52%) saying they’d funded their business from savings.
Grant Seaton, Senior Business Lending Manager at The Cumberland, says “The research findings regarding the use of CBILS and BBLS is interesting and encouraging, as it demonstrates that the businesses had other means to invest for the future.”
Commenting on the investment figure, Grant adds, “The level of investment to which businesses are committing demonstrates optimism and resilience during a very challenging time and will hopefully be rewarded as consumer confidence and demand to holidaying in the UK continues to grow.”
Unsurprisingly, pandemic related factors dominated consumers responses to what currently puts them off taking a holiday abroad, with 55% stating that ‘being stranded abroad if there is a COVID-19 outbreak/spike an the location you are in’. This is followed by ‘uncertainty about COVID-19’ (54%), potential need to quarantine (51%), ‘self isolating at your accommodation' (44%).
Regarding the booking patterns amongst UK consumers, 36% of respondents say they would book UK holidays between less than one month ahead and three months ahead of time, whilst only 6% said they would plan to book 10-12 months ahead.
56% of respondents cited concerns about cancellations due to the impact of new strains of the virus as their biggest concern for the 2021 summer season, while 31% of accommodation owners said that they were concerned about customers ‘double-booking’ holidays and then cancelling with them at the last minute.
Customer of The Cumberland, James Wilkinson, owns the Three Shires Inn www.threeshiresinn.co.uk, a ten bedroom hotel in Little Langdale, the Lake District. He says: "We have found that this year, people are, on the whole, looking for more comfort and luxury with a growing demand for larger bedrooms. Like many UK accommodation owners, we have taken the time over lockdown to make long lasting improvements to our property to meet the anticipated needs of consumers. For example, we had one suite before the pandemic, but we’ve developed two more of our bedrooms into suites recently, because that is where the demand lies amongst visitors, and because of course, these rooms generate higher revenues for us.
We've found that the pandemic has slightly changed people’s perceptions of what they want. There isn't as much concern about any extra costs involved, but a real requirement for relaxation and comfort. Our main market is walkers and climbers but even they seem to have taste for a little bit of luxury now!
Developing the two new bedroom suites in our property was a significant investment for us, but we could see that that is the way the market is going. And because of the extensive lockdown, we had time to make these changes to the bricks and mortar of our business.”