On February 22nd, 3.30pm like most who work in the UK Holiday Park and Campsite industry I watched with bated breath for the announcement of when accommodation providers could once again open their doors and welcome their 2021 guests.
It was a somewhat double-edged sword as the initial March 8th and March 29th, Step 1 rules were announced it became clear that opening for Easter was off the table. I know this will come as a great shame for many both operators and consumers who rely on Easter breaks for a much needed escape at generally better value prices than that of the peak summer season. At this point we wondered how far down the list hospitality would have to wait…
The answer was short in coming and in Step 2 of the roadmap plan, on April 12th and subject to the government’s data review of the effects of Step 1 easing, holiday parks can once again welcome new arrivals.
More positive news was to follow that in subsequent Step 3 (May 17th) and Step 4 (June 21) more easing of social restrictions could mean our holidays and on park operations can return to ‘near normal’ provided the previous steps didn’t harm the process.
What immediately followed the Government’s announcement was a website surge in traffic and bookings, leading for some to the biggest booking day of the year so far.
Our data clearly shows the impact of the news with many, it seems, putting their holiday plans on ice until some certainty was announced. Below you can see the immediate impact in traffic following the roadmap announcement when compared to the previous days’ pattern.
That pattern was largely mirrored in bookings (see graph below) also with many parks and campsites recording their biggest revenue day so far. The bookings boost that we predict to run well into Spring will certainly help to soothe many operator’s disappointment around the loss of valuable Easter revenue.
To date I have been a bit mystified by tabloid reports that holidays are already sold out across the UK. From a fortunate insider’s perspective, we have seen largely a quiet January (compared to previous years) but interest and bookings have been building throughout February.
Mostly on the whole though parks have seen increased revenue year on year where general early booking discounting that has been the norm in ‘normal years’ has been replaced with increased tariff rates sending the price of a UK holiday much higher than average.
A harder job is predicting where this season will go. Now that the roadmap dates are confirmed and, assuming that the success of the vaccination programme and gradual easing do not send the virus stats on a dangerous trajectory, meaning that lockdown measures will need to be strengthened or dates pushed back as a result.
We predict the booking boost to continue into early spring for those seeking a much-needed holiday, and demand around peak which is already under pressure due to booking moves from 2020 cancellations is sure to mean the demand for UK Holidays will probably out way the amount of accommodation available. So look out for some crazy prices as demand gets stretched.
Those who can travel without restrictions of school term time I am sure May, June and September will be busy months. Here short break demand is not likely to outstretch accommodation availability so competition for bookings is sure to be hot! Holiday Park operators will need to ensure there are positioned well in the market to be at the top of the pile when consumers a looking to book.
From a pattern of website sessions here is a prediction of how the season could look (yellow) when compared to last year (blue) and current (red).
Whilst we will likely see a smoother path than the extremes of last year and I doubt very much see the heights of activity we’ve seen during last year’s opening of the flood gates at the end of June. The higher booking value that will be achieved compared to previous years and a strong couple of months to follow will see a bumper booking year for many.
It is without doubt that the Coronavirus Pandemic has had a devastating effect on the hospitality sector, but with foreign holidays still likely to be a step to far for many this year now is the time to capitalise on the Staycation Boom.
The Roadmap is out, let’s all hope and work together to make this happen and finally look forward to brighter times and happy holidays once again.