How can we maintain the staycation boom momentum?

Demand for staycation holidays has boomed post-lockdown. As the UK has slowly eased itself back into some sense of normality, we’re seeing the triumphant return of the great British summer holiday. And we couldn’t be happier!

It’s encouraging to see a surge in bookings for self-catering holidays, seen as incredibly attractive for many seeking alternative accommodation for cancelled holidays abroad. Camping trips have also seen a revival. With many itching to leave their homes after the confinement of working from home (or living from work), however you look at it ­— people are looking to escape.

While holiday businesses can enjoy some relief from the surge in bookings now, how will this bode as we enter the off-peak months?

Summer is the hinge on which people plan to go on holiday. We have the sunshine; the kids are off school, alfresco dining is encouraged, and we follow Cliff Richard’s mantra:

“We’re all going on a summer holiday. No more working for a week or two”

However, the rhythm of our holiday booking habits has shaken up this year due to the pandemic. April saw 73% of people taking zero holidays. This leaves a vast number of people across the UK with a backlog of annual leave to take, and with limited holiday destinations to pick from.

So how can we keep the staycation momentum going after the summer ends? Two words – strategic marketing.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a carefully planned and well-documented strategic marketing plan. Think of it as your compass. A compass tells you the direction you’re facing while pointing out all the other directions you could go. Your marketing strategy is the bedrock upon which all marketing decisions are made. You’ll have some very clear objectives and targets you want to concentrate on, and your marketing plan will identify the different ways you can achieve them.

We’ve highlighted some areas below to consider when building your marketing plan for the forthcoming months.

Build Customer Confidence

Build Customer Confidence

It’s been a challenging time for both business owners and customers. Each trying to build trust and get back to some semblance of normality. You’ve said things, they’ve said things. What can you do to meet your customer’s new needs?

  • Reassure your customers: People are likely to be asking more detailed questions to find out more about your business’s operations and to reassure their concerns. Dedicated FAQ pages could help answer your most common questions quickly and sending pre-arrival emails to incoming guests with detailed information can help them know what to expect when they arrive. If your business has a Facebook page, you can create responses for frequently asked questions to save staff answering the same questions over and over again.
  • Customer experience: Many people are opting for self-catering accommodation where they can relax with their family than be in close quarters with others. But fears of shared facilities such as swimming pools, toilet blocks and restaurants are still a concern for many. What extra precautions are you taking in an attempt to reassure your customers? And how are you communicating this?
  • Reviews: They’re like a micro-marketing campaign that keep working long after they’ve been written. In today’s climate, they’re more important than ever as people are likely to be reading more reviews than usual before engaging with businesses. Encourage your guests to leave a review or think about setting up a survey so you can capture people’s feedback. Positive or negative, it’ll help you see the areas you’re doing well in and those that need improvement.

45% of people said they would book a holiday if the accommodation had good reviews

  • Cancellation Procedures: Customers booking holidays run the risk of having it cancelled at any time. Slapping a cancellation fee for something that’s out of their control can be seen as unjust. Think about implementing a booking guarantee or credit system to build confidence in bookings.
Keep your finger on the pulse

Keep your finger on the pulse

The COVID-19 crisis is always evolving. You need to be prepared for changes in customer preferences. Naturally you will be looking to advertise more to keep revenue stable. But being pushy about it is not the way to go.

  • Review your offering: We’re all watching our bank balances closely. Perhaps Cliff’s “no more working for a week or two” becomes “no more working for a weekend or two”. Shorter spurts of holidays could be welcomed with lower risk for people’s pockets and a gateway to encourage frequent shorter breaks.
  • Enticing off-peak breaks: Historically, autumn and winter are quieter booking months. We may not have the warm weather on our side to sell holidays, but you can use this to your advantage to advocate ‘avoiding the crowds’ to explore the hidden gems on your doorstep. If your park can offer on-site entertainment, make sure to highlight them! It could be the make or break of a booking for families looking for a fun holiday to keep the kids entertained.
  • Senior Market: Regardless of age, everyone needs a break. Older people have held off holidaying or have been shielding during the pandemic and may now be ready for a break away. However, this could be a daunting prospect for them. How can you mitigate risks, so they feel safe on their holiday? Be mindful of those falling into one of the categories of vulnerability. They’ll be putting their trust in you (and hard-earned money!) to provide a safe, enjoyable holiday environment.
  • Perception: Chances are your business could be someone’s second, third or even last choice for a holiday, in comparison to a going abroad. Think outside the box and sell your business and location. What are your USP’s? Costa Del Back Garden has nothing on you!
  • 3D/Video Tours: Remember earlier we mentioned about building your customer’s confidence? A virtual tour of your park’s facilities and accommodation offerings could ease holidaymakers if they can walk around your park without leaving their sofa. You can make use of interactive hotspots to highlight useful information, allowing customers to interact with the space and leave a lasting impression. Alternatively, you could film a check-in and check-out experience, so guests have an idea of what is required of them before they arrive. These are also great to share across your social channels.
but prepare for the worst
Finally, hope for the best,

but prepare for the worst

At present, holidaymakers are taking advantage of what they perceive as the “window of opportunity” before concerns of a second wave dampen holiday demand. While no one knows for sure what the future holds, it doesn’t hurt to play devil’s advocate and think about the following:

  • Outbreaks on site: Do you have a plan in place to deal with any cases if they arise? Do a risk assessment, pull together the content you would communicate to incoming guests and have a plan for the next steps. Treat this in the same way as you would a fire drill. You need to have procedures in place so if the occasion (god forbid) arises, you’re prepared.
  • Second Lockdown: No one wants to think about the L word after already enduring months of it, but now YOU have the advantage. Reflect on how you reacted and the actions you put in place. What worked well? What could you have done better? Is there anything you can implement now to save time later?

On a lighter note:

  • Last minute availability: Plans change which can leave you with empty units and pitches on your hands. Could you advertise any last-minute availability to customers? It may seem more enticing to some that they can snap up a holiday ‘bargain’ without having to wait weeks to enjoy it.
  • 2021 breaks: Can you persuade people to book a holiday next year with a fair price? We’ve seen countless articles of disgruntled people paying hundreds and thousands of pounds for a UK staycation that is more expensive than jetting off to another country. While travel restrictions are gradually lifting, most people have already pushed their holidays to next year in the hope that things will be better. Others could be holding off booking anything – how can you offer them value for their money?
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