Travel Trends Impacting the UK Holiday Market

Travel Trends Impacting the UK Holiday Market

August 30, 2022

According to our Travel Trends report, the tourism industry in the UK saw 75% of people travelling for summer with over half of those electing to stay in the country for their holidays. This outlines the ever-changing nature of consumer priorities. When determining your holiday marketing strategy it is important to consider these four trends Mintel has identified to help brands make next year smoother, more fruitful and more effective than the last. Ranging from dampened budgets to the rise in popularity of domestic travel, we have identified this year’s travel trends from UK consumers.

1. Children Play a Key Role in Holiday Destinations

Summer holidays are usually a great time for parents to bond with their children. Parents often look for activities for their kids to enjoy when on a family holiday; whether this be sports activities or joining a kids club.  More than a third of all family holidaymakers said somewhere with freedom for their children to play outside and explore is an important holiday factor. This shows that active play is seen as a highly important factor by family visitors, and why children’s play activities are a big focus of investment by park operators. At the same time, a demographic shift in the family population towards “tweens” and teens, and away from younger children, could create new opportunities for parks which choose to specialise in an older family market, for example, those offering a focus on adrenaline and adventure activities, as well as social and entertainment activities, aimed at teenagers.

Haven opened the UK’s largest Adventure Village at its Thorpe Park site in summer 2022. Source: Haven.

In an age where children explore their local area far less than previous generations did, and concerns over childhood obesity and mental health are rising, parents are looking to holiday spaces which provide an experience of ‘safe freedom’ and active discovery. These parental priorities are also driven by rising concern over the amount of time children spend indoors looking at screens.

2. Ditch Planes for Trains as an Eco-Friendly Alternative

Future interest in holidays by rail is high, with six in ten adults considering taking a train to get to a holiday destination in the UK. Environmental considerations in particular are likely to exert a growing influence on travel choices in the coming years. Nearly half of younger consumers (Gen Z/Millennials) who’ve flown in the past five years feel guilty about the environmental impact of their trips, and almost half of those who would consider taking the train in future say they are motivated to increase their rail usage specifically in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

It is more likely that travellers will shift towards a ‘flexitarian flying’ approach, swapping planes for trains on at least some of their journeys rather than adopting a strict “no-fly” approach. Just as concepts like ‘meat-free Mondays’ or ‘Veganuary’ have proved effective in creating behavioural changes using social media, similar ‘flight-free’ initiatives and pledges could be marketed by rail operators, holiday brands, and tourism boards, along with promotions and special offers to capture the attention of consumers.

Many of the biggest holiday brands in the UK, like TUI, Jet2holidays, Kuoni, Virgin Holidays and Barrhead Travel, have already taken responsibility for their own sustainable development goals, such as committing to net-zero emissions by 2050. However, taking this extra step in the short term will help people travel more responsibly and improve consumer trust.

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3. Camping – A New Favourite for Brits

Adults and families have turned to camping as a holiday since the start of 2020. This includes roughly 4.5 million ‘newcomers’ who took their first-ever camping or caravanning holiday during the pandemic. Even though the rising cost of living crisis is likely to dampen consumer spending on holidays, camping and caravanning holds the advantage of being seen as an affordable holiday.

Mintel research shows that pet-friendly campsites are growing in popularity. Source: Getty Images.

Activities and experiences have been a growing area in the travel industry over recent years. Over a third of campers and caravanners are more likely to choose a site that offers live entertainment such as music and an open-air theatre. Nature and sporting activities have become higher priorities, especially for families. Some campers and caravanners said they would be encouraged to choose a site that offered nature-spotting tours and stargazing tours, respectively. A key opportunity for the domestic camping and caravanning sector will be to retain these new customers over the coming years. Further investment and premiumisation of accommodation and site offerings, along with family-focused activities and experiences, will play a key role here.

4. Rental Properties are Increasing in Popularity

With the cost of living and travel prices increasing consumers are choosing a staycation as their main holiday over going abroad. Over half of Brits said they would consider staying in a rental property for a future holiday and 32% have already booked a rental property for their next holiday. With rental properties becoming increasingly popular, hotels must consider what unique and stand-out opportunities they can offer to engage and retain consumers.

What We Think

Following the pandemic and cost of living crisis, the holiday market is likely to prove fairly resilient as consumers continue to catch up on missed opportunities. A new wave of activity in UK holiday parks reflects optimism that the staycation trend is here to stay. This will lead to further investment in accommodation and family-focused experiences. As the cost of living crisis continues to leave a damaging blow on real incomes, brands would need to effectively communicate their value for money credentials, in order to convince hard-pressed consumers to part with their cash.

Mintel’s leading experts have conducted independent consumer research to identify the latest trends and growth opportunities happening across the UK holiday market. Explore our Holidays and Travel Market Research, or fill out the form below to sign up to Spotlight, Mintel’s free newsletter for exclusive insights.

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