Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be construed as legal or public health advice. Please always consult a knowledgeable professional advisor.
The UK staycation has increased in popularity in the last several years. Uncertainty about the aftermath of Brexit combined with the weaker pound and the high cost of foreign travel resulted in UK staycation spend more than doubling from 2011 to 2019.
Despite the popularity of the staycation, data from the Office of National Statistics showed that UK residents also made 93.1 million overseas visits in 2019. As we enter the holiday season in 2021 on the back of a global pandemic, the staycation looks likely to remain a popular choice.
Get staycation ready
Safety has to be the number one priority for all businesses looking to reopen on any date in 2021. Restaurants, hotels, bars, campsites and all other hospitality venues will be required to perform additional cleaning and monitoring duties to ensure all areas accessible to the public are kept as safe as possible.
For restaurants, this may involve dedicating additional staff time to cleaning, which may require having extra staff on duty or reducing opening hours to ensure there is time to clean. Social distancing measures should be made as easy to adhere to as possible, such as spacing tables accordingly or implementing a one-way system for foot traffic.
Implementing such measures not only keeps people safer, it also doubles up as reassurance to customers who may otherwise choose not to venture out. One survey found that 45% of people still intended to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people even when guidelines allowed this. Ensuring social distancing is in place is essential if customers are to be confident about returning.
Places offering holiday accommodation, including hotels, campsites and Airbnb-type accommodation will have to reassure customers also. While a recent poll from YouGov shows twice as many people in the UK are booking a staycation over a foreign holiday in 2021, those that are booking still need the peace of mind that comes within knowing proper safety measures are in place.
Contactless payments were already becoming the norm long before the pandemic struck. Over the past year, customers have sought out businesses that have contactless payment facilities and this is unlikely to change any time soon.
Businesses need to be more flexible with their payment services than ever before, and one way to do this is to ensure there is always a contactless option for people to choose. This could be offering remote payments in advance for venues such as hotels and campsites or implementing pay-at-table software in restaurants, to allow customers to use their own devices to access the system and make payments.
The travel landscape remains uncertain and many people are wary about booking trips in advance. Concerns about a fourth lockdown or having to self-isolate may mean plans have to change at the last-minute.
Hotels, Airbnbs and campsites that offer more flexible cancellation policies are likely to attract more customers who want to be reassured that they will not lose their money if something should happen to prevent the booking from going ahead. Offers such as free cancellation up to a certain date or free rescheduling of bookings helps to draw in potential travellers who want to make plans but also want financial security.
Businesses that are reopening after many months need to be able to spread the word about their offering. They also need to share information about any special offers or other incentives they are providing to help people holiday and eat out with peace of mind.
Posting on social media is an effective way of sharing information and getting your brand out there. People who have seen Facebook posts or pictures on Instagram of a particular brand are more likely to remember them when they come to thinking about booking. Optimising websites for local search also helps food and beverage businesses attract more customers who are on their staycation and searching for things to do in the local area.
Businesses may also find it useful to promote special offers designed to help build a post-lockdown customers base, such as off-peak discounts and last-minute offers or flash sales.
Reviews are one of the best ways in which businesses can build trust, even among people who have never used them before. Statistics show that 89% of people read online reviews before making purchasing decisions and 76% trust online reviews as much as they would trust a recommendation from a friend. It’s a good idea to encourage reviews from satisfied customers, and to respond quickly and publicly to any negative reviews.
Prepare to adapt
Local businesses working in partnership have the potential to take full advantage of the staycation trend in the UK in 2021. Most customers are attracted by package deals that offer all-in-one solutions for their stay, at a discount. This could involve the likes of local grocery and food delivery services teaming up with campsites to provide meals for guests during their stay.
Holiday accommodation with quality kitchen facilities will appeal to those that want to get away but do not necessarily want to eat out in public every night. Facilities such as a games room or Smart TV are useful for people who want a change of scenery but are not yet ready to mingle with others.
Hotels and other accommodations may find adding the option for shorter breaks and discounted mid-week breaks helps draw in those guests that are watching the pennies.
Restaurants providing early bird menus, affordable set menus or off-peak discounts will also help people who want to get out and about without spending too much. Selling more online and offering delivery or collection where possible helps widen the net too.
The staycation trend creates multiple exciting opportunities for local businesses to begin widening their customer base and increasing profits. Square software can help manage bookings and payments, leaving staff free to concentrate on providing the best possible customer service more safely.