The rise of the ‘Staycation’
New research* indicates that there is no sign that the popularity of the “staycation” – the holiday on home turf – is fading.
The welcoming news showed that almost half (48%) of people are seriously contemplating staying within the UK for their main holiday. The figure compares with 39% on the same survey done last year and 29% in 2009.
In addition to this, the survey showed that more than three quarters (79%) of travellers who took their main holiday in the UK in 2010 have said they are ‘extremely likely’ to return in 2011 compared with only 66% in 2009.
This survey indicated that while many people initially choose to stay and holiday in the UK for economic reasons, the UK tourism industry has exceeding consumer expectations and therefore people plan to return because of the excellent service they received and the enjoyable attractions and locations available within the UK. The stress and hassle of air travel was also cited by 38% of those surveyed as a reason to holiday in the UK this year compared with 29% in 2009.
29% of people questioned feel that UK tourism businesses should be supported in the current economic climate whilst 51% of travellers (who like to base their holiday around their hotel experience) considered that the UK’s appeal has definitely increased. When asked ‘why’ they thought this, 29% of people mentioned better hotels/accommodation, 24% improved restaurants/catering and 19% thought that UK hotels delivered better overall service and was more customer absorbed. 45% of those questioned also felt that the UK scenery was a reason to stay in the UK for their main holidays.
Based on the results of the survey, the fact that UK holidaymakers are choosing to stay in the UK based on positive experiences rather than the cost of traveling abroad, it is suggested that the trend of the ‘staycation’ can be sustained well into the future.
*the results quoted in this article come from the independent market research firm BDRC Continental.
Mobile Internet – the future is here!
Mobile Internet is already here – 3G (broadband wireless services) is the typical wireless technology and smart phones like blackberry, Iphone and LG etc are a definite part of everyday life. The guarantee of “instant, anywhere and anytime” Internet access, immediate information, location-based services and personalization are the key plusses of mobile Internet.
Research has shown that three in four active travellers use a mobile device while on the move. Two-thirds say they are likely to explore, shop and book travel activities via their mobile devices. So then, just what are the mobile services that will allow hoteliers to take full advantage of this prospect?
Mobile Hotel Websites
Firstly it must be clearly understood that the mobile Internet is not wireless access to the conventional Internet. Companies who literally “translate” their standard websites for the wireless world are almost guaranteed to be unsuccessful to achieve any meaningful usage and conversions. The mobile Internet follows different rules than the conventional Internet. Mobile users also have less time to browse and are very often on the go. Slower download speeds, smaller screens and limited data-input capability (e.g. the number of keywords that can be typed in a search) are some of the restrictive factors. Imagine trying to squeeze your normal desktop wide-screen hotel website onto the tiny screen of a mobile device?? Accessing a “conventional” website via a mobile device often results in an adverse user experience: the failure to find information needed, and a highly predictable outcome of abandoned websites and reservations.
To solve this issue, hoteliers should offer a mobile website specially designed for such use to provide an excellent user experience. Mobile users demand mobile sites that download quickly, provide brief and to the point textual content and minimal visual content. Effectual and simple navigation is of specific importance so people can easily find short descriptions of hotel facilities and services, maps and directions as well as contact numbers and email addresses. More information on having a mobile website click here.
Mobile devices and Customer Service
Mobile devices are usually continually present, always on and usually only used by only one person. Hence, using mobiles to provide quick, discreet and highly personalized services convinces customers that this is their service. Here are only some of the customer service initiatives possible using the mobile space;
- Booking confirmation text messaging
- Pre-Arrival text messages (up-selling opportunity; value add – e.g. events and happenings at the hotel or in the local areas, etc.)
- Post-departure texts with short guest satisfaction surveys
Opt-in Customer Mobile Lists
Text messaging is huge and is constantly growing. In 2008, over a trillion text messages were sent worldwide. Unlike email marketing, which is free and vulnerable to abuse such as in the form of unsolicited spam, mobile text marketing has to overcome two very important difficulties:
- People are willing to share their email with just about anybody, however are not so forthcoming with their mobile numbers – revealing them only to close friends and relatives.
- Wireless carriers are taking the privacy of their subscribers extremely seriously and reacting aggressively to any attempts of cold calling or unwelcome text campaigns.
Therefore it is not a simple task to produce an opt-in list of existing guests and potential new customers’ mobile phone numbers. These guests would have to provide the hotel with definite consent to receive special promotions via their mobile devices and many people are still very wary of this.
How could you create and expand this consent? Here are some possible techniques
- During Guest check-in/check-out
- Website sign-ups
- Mobile coupons and other special offers
- Interactive contests, games that require the input of a mobile phone number or sending a text message to a short code
- Quizzes and polls
- Social media initiatives
3. Mobile Text Marketing
Once have addressed the privacy and customer consent issues as discussed above, the next logical step is to work on the text campaigns and decide on their frequency.
Here are example text message campaigns:
- Mobile Coupons – e.g. discount coupons for a discounted meal / free drink at the bar, 10% off a reservations, etc.
- Mobile competitions – e.g. text “Free Room” to a short code and enter our Free Room Giveaway
- Interactive games
In conclusion travellers, all over the world, are already using their mobile devices to research and then book hotels. Even mobile sites of small, single properties are being visited and are enjoying the exposure to thousands of mobile customers. Some travel and hotel companies are already taking advantage of revenues created from their mobile sites, therefore if you as a business has not yet done so… now is the time to act on this growing trend.
It is highly expected, by experts, that British tourism will be boasted by travellers from all over the world hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal wedding on April 29th 2011. 600,000 visitors attended the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, and hundreds of thousands are expected this time around too. The Royal Wedding is projected to bring a boost not just to the tourism industry in London but right across the UK’s travel and tourism industry. The couple met at St Andrews University and spend time at Balmoral in Scotland which will have a beneficial impact on visitors to these areas. The Royal couple will live in North Wales where William is serving with the RAF, which will be a great boost for Wales's and its attractions such as Snowdonia National Park and its surrounding castles including the medieval Caernarfon Castle.
The majority of hoteliers, especially those in London, will already have arranged their Royal Wedding packages and be heavily promoting them to fill rooms. However the weeks before the event ought to be carefully handled in order to maximise revenue taken over this exciting period. The UK government announced the 29 April as a public holiday. This extra day essentially means that a large number of UK residents will be able to take an 11-day break, by taking only three working days off. Many overseas visitors will also take part in the royal celebrations. Tourism is also predicted to increase even further in 2012, when the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games occur. So how can these special events be utilized to bring in the maximum profits possible – read on for some important tips:
- Minimum Stay Requirements-To fully take advantage of these types of important one-day-events, it is advisable to implement a minimum stay requirement. This will encourage longer booking periods and have a positive impact on occupancy levels throughout the period.
- Extended length of stay package deals.- In addition to the ‘minimum stay’, it is also recommended to offer customers an extended length of stay special package and deals. This will encourage travellers to stay for longer to combine the Royal Wedding with other tourist attractions. These packages should be made available during the booking process as well as an on-going marketing process to confirmed guests.
Keep everything balanced
Hotels may find that their repeat and loyal customers are hesitant about travelling to London for the event weekend due to extreme pricing concerns. In the interest of boosting occupancy over the long-term, hoteliers are advised to pay calculated attention to your normal base business rate and wedding-generated business rate.
Ensure that your hotel’s cancellation policy is communicated clearly to the sales and reservations teams – and then to every customer who makes a booking with you. It can be expected that there is a large number of cancellations for bookings made over a major event. However, if your hotel or guesthouse has an indisputable, clear and concise cancellation policy - you will be able to dramatically reduce any negative impact on revenue from these last-minute cancellations.
- Overbook your hotel or guesthouse by 5% - Research has shown that hotels, while expecting demand to reach record levels, actually tend to only reach 95% occupancy during major events. Depending on your business mix and the number of guaranteed bookings you have, it is generally recommended to overbook by at least 5%. This should be gradually reduced as the date gets nearer to the event and bookings are made to more accurate numbers.
- Does your hotel offer additional services?- Income from food and beverage sales has shown to come in below expectations on major event days. It is therefore advisable to focus on meeting and event sales, and food and drink marketing efforts, on the days leading up to and after the big event, as there will be a greater need to increase profits during this period. Greater occupancy levels should also allow hoteliers to offer attractively priced rooms plus full board packages before, during and after big events such as the Royal Wedding.