The uncertainty over Britain’s future with the EU continues to affect the travel industry in terms of consumer confidence and booking patterns. Here’s what’s happening for us at Canopy & Stars, the response of the wider industry so far and a look at potential future impact.
How are we doing?
While the UK travel industry has been weak in the past couple of months, Canopy & Stars bookings over the January to March period have been nicely up on last year. Bookings are also looking strong for the rest of the year, again up on last year, but we are still seeing a slight shift in guest behaviour. We’ve noticed a shortening of booking lead times and there’s been increased interest in ‘value’ spaces. If you’re looking to fill a few gaps in the calendar, it may be worth setting up some special offers to draw in the more price-sensitive audience.
What is happening elsewhere in the industry?
Traditional European holiday destinations are feeling the effect of Brexit as much, or possibly more, than glamping sites. UK ‘outbound’ travel bookings this summer are down 6% and for the last eight weeks bookings are down 10% against this time last year. The industry is responding to this downturn with large price reductions designed to reignite UK interest in European travel. The cost of holidays to EU destinations has been cut by a record 24% in April – a 3 star package holiday for a family of 4 to the Algarve that cost £698 last year can now be booked for £462. Generally speaking, we are seeing our UK places performing better than EU places.
What might a Deal or No Deal mean?
Much of the reticence of British travellers to Europe is due to uncertainty over the logistics and legalities post Brexit. For example, Britons may need at least 6 months validity on their passports to enter the EU and many will have to renew their passports even though they won’t need visas. However, much of the fear over a No Deal Brexit may be baseless. Planes and ferries will still operate as normal and confidence in European travel could well bounce back rapidly. Once there is clarity on Brexit bookings will almost certainly surge, both domestically and for Europe, as people gain confidence in the economic situation. British customers have always travelled and will continue to do so, just as people will always look for value and quality.
How are we responding?
We continue to work hard to improve our website and digital marketing. We constantly achieve strong PR coverage and have a press release going out this week. We will continue to inspire and encourage guests to travel and we will have a marketing push for family holidays later this month, to both the UK and Europe.
A large proportion of our bookings are for birthdays, anniversaries and weddings and we continue to see strong demand for these types of stay, so we will maintain our marketing efforts in these areas. Our social media platforms are growing, with 100k engaged users on Facebook and 78k on Instagram. Both are great platforms to promote our spaces. We are also doing a big push to remind last year’s guests to book again, aiming to increase repeat bookings and build loyalty.
Despite the uncertainty of Brexit we remain really confident for 2019, regardless of the direction that Parliament takes, and we will continue to strongly market and promote all our places, both in the UK and Europe.
Wishing you all the best for a busy Easter.