A meaningful experience: rethinking what Britain wants

With the staycation boom in full swing and over half (55%) of Britons planning a staycation this year, a recent survey of 2,000 UK holidaymakers found that Cornwall, The Lake District and Scottish Highlands are top of Britain’s staycation list. After enduring multiple lockdowns, and with overseas travel restrictions continuing, Britons are keen to holiday in the UK, which is fantastic news for hoteliers. In fact, almost a quarter of people we surveyed said one of the most positive aspects of taking a UK holiday was being able to put money back into the country’s economy.

Big ‘blow outs’

However, it is worth noting that natural beauty spots away from the hustle and bustle came in well above famous holiday destinations including Brighton, and even London. With multiple lockdowns and enforced distancing from loved ones, it is clear that behaviours have shifted and the British appetite for a hedonistic holiday has been overtaken by a desire to reconnect both with nature and with those we love.

In fact, when asked for their priorities when looking for a UK holiday destination, a combined 38% of respondents identified National Trust property and hiking as their main priorities, while 54% said they want to book a holiday to spend time with family and friends above anything else. Interestingly, a further one in five said that they were booking a getaway to help them get a ‘sense of purpose’ back.

All of this suggests that people are no longer looking for “happiness” in the two-dimensional sense but instead for experiences that increase our sense of connection to deeper values. Such experiences often involve a greater satisfaction and may be more valuable than superficial “happiness” when it comes to overall emotional well-being and physical health.

The value of partnerships

So how can this knowledge arm hoteliers? With an insight into the changing priorities of the British public, why not tailor your marketing to attract the 2021 consumer? One way in which this can be done is by looking into brand partnerships that may help you to attract a more mindful Britain. Brand partnerships now permeate the hospitality space. From luxury retailers and travel adventure companies to famous fitness experts and music event organisers, by working with like-minded brands hoteliers can create a point of difference and offer a unique experience to guests.

Think about the businesses surrounding your hotel. Is there a stunning hiking spot or a café on the peaks, perhaps there is a spa or yoga studio down the road, or even a boutique bookshop or an animal petting farm? Think about what your customer will want when visiting your local area, and start a conversation with a brand which aligns with your values to begin a partnership that benefits both parties and attracts customers to your door.

There are several ways you can maximise on brand partnerships. One involves your marketing team: ask them to look into link sharing, whereby you recommend a brand partner by placing a link to their website on your own site and in your own social media posts (and they do the same for you). Link sharing provides exposure, aligns both brands together, and advances SEO. By sharing links, promotional material and even social media posts across both businesses’ channels, you will attract the attention of both customer bases and affiliated parties resulting in a wider reach from a much larger network. From an SEO and social engagement perspective, the benefits are vast and by increasing your viewing opportunity, you can attract new custom and ultimately increase bookings.

There are also many ways a partnership can benefit you offline by offering in-person incentives to drive footfall through your doors. This may come in the form of including your partner brand’s marketing material in welcome packages, providing giveaways, or giving each other’s customers a discount or promotion. By celebrating your surroundings, prospective guests will be enticed by the destination itself as well as the hotel’s facilities.

When thinking about a partnership keep your audience at the forefront of your mind. For a family orientated hotel, it may be useful to partner with a family attraction such as a local theme park or farm. Whereas if you’re looking to attract millennials, perhaps a yoga studio and a free class at the hotel will provide a positive pull. Know your audience and your local businesses, because a successful partnership can double your opportunity to be seen, which will not only raise your profile, but potentially your profits too.

Meaningful marketing

Consumer’s priorities have shifted and now more than ever before, customers look to use ethical companies that demonstrate an interest in the environment, mental health, and employee wellbeing. One of the best online tips for hoteliers is to be human. One of the worst mistakes to make on social media is appearing to be a faceless corporation with no personality.

In the modern age of transparency, people want to get to know your company on a more personal level. Showing off the human side of your brand means showing off the faces behind your social feeds. Whether it’s photos at work, or snapshots of your team socialising, getting personal with your followers can help you form a much-needed connection.

Tailoring online content to promote mindfulness is also an option, you could include quotes, tips and aspirational images of your hotel. But remember to practice what you preach. Consider whether there is anything extra you can do to demonstrate that you are a company with a conscience. Think mental health training, mindfulness days, and investing in your workforce. Not only will this enhance your reputation, but with a shortage of hospitality staff being reported, it means you will retain your staff too. By transforming staff into brand ambassadors, your customers are more likely to follow suit.

What next?

With many prioritising quality time with loved ones and in nature to switch off over blow outs in the sunshine, it’ll be interesting to see if these trends continue once overseas travel restrictions ease. But whatever happens, attitudes have shifted during the pandemic, and the change in mindset is a legacy that is likely to continue. The era of copy-and-paste-style mass tourism is over. People have had no choice but to find more meaningful ways to switch off than a drink and a late-night dance. Travel is more individualised, and accommodation providers must respond to this trend with transparency, personality and enhanced offerings. Not just now, but for the long-term.

Authored by Richard Drummond, COO of Hop Software the cloud-based Property Management System which is transforming how the Hospitality industry operates.

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