Demand boom – Covid strengthens UK holiday accommodation market

The Covid-19 pandemic has had many adverse effects on businesses, but an industry that has benefited immensely from the pandemic is the UK holiday accommodation market. New research from building society, The Cumberland, shows a huge boost to the UK’s staycation market.

What the study shows

New research from The Cumberland reveals 86% of holiday accommodation owners say they have invested in their business during the pandemic. A further 94% of holiday accommodation owners say they have made a long-lasting, positive change.

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This positive outlook for the UK domestic holiday market comes even though the government has announced plans to relax foreign travel rules. Although it is now easier for Brits to go abroad than it was at the height of the pandemic, the research suggests UK holidaymakers are still cautious with 84% deciding to holiday in the UK this summer.

What are UK holidaymakers looking for?

When it comes to Brits choosing to go on staycations, the survey also found out what accommodation type they preferred. The most popular accommodation types were hotels (38%) and cottages (32%), followed by bed and breakfast accommodation (24%).

Even as the UK returns somewhat to normal, Covid-19 compliance and cleanliness still matter a lot to staycation seekers. According to the survey, 69% of respondents 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 that has a Covid-19 deep cleaning service, while 31% would pay more for a property with clear instructions on its Covid-19 guidance. Also, in a possible nod to the lockdown pet boom, 16% of Brits say they would pay more if their accommodation was dog-friendly.

According to The Cumberland’s research, it appears accommodation owners are listening to what holidaymakers want. The survey of 233 UK accommodation owners/managers also highlights that 80% of holiday accommodation owners questioned said they had been spending money on being compliant with Covid-19 guidelines, while 71% have been improving their property or services.

When it comes to destinations, 17% of respondents picked Cornwall as their favourite UK holiday location while the Lake District and Devon are equally popular at 14%. Other popular regions were Scotland (13%), Wales (11%) and East Anglia (9%).

Scott McKerracher, head of commercial at The Cumberland, comments: “It is very clear from our consumer research that a UK holiday is by far and away the main choice for British consumers this summer and it seems that many UK accommodation owners have decided to invest in their businesses not only for the short term but also to make long-lasting, positive change. This can only bode well for the sector going forward, as consumer confidence rises to match.”

How are accommodation owners/managers funding their businesses?

In regards to business funding during the Covid-19 pandemic, 52% of respondents funded their investment in their business from savings/equity contribution; 41% from a business loan; 26% from insurance; 21% from external equity; 17% from CBILS or BBLS loans and 15% from remortgage. A further 75% said they would definitely be considering using the Government Recovery Loan Scheme.

How are UK consumers booking their holidays?

When it comes to the booking patterns amongst UK holidaymakers, 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. Out of those surveyed, 26% said they would not plan to book a UK holiday whilst in the current Covid circumstances.

A further 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.