• Alec Carr

Holidays and Covid-19: Increase bookings for your holiday home as UK residents plan for Staycations

Ranging from the largest UK holiday companies with multiple sites nationwide, through to home-owners offering single night or weekend occupancy, the UK holiday sector is diverse. From luxury hotels, to homes, to hostels, to static caravans, to yurts, to tents, to tipis, our domestic UK based holiday industry offers a wide range of experiences. However, despite the variety, there is currently one huge obstacle in common impacting the entire national and international holiday industry: Covid-19.

Statistics, Social Distancing and Sausage Rolls

Accepting a number of ‘ifs’, ‘buts’, ‘whens’ and ‘hows’, VisitBritain has revised their 2020 expectations. Prior to lockdown they had forecast that inbound visits to the UK would grow by 2.9%, with projections for spending by these visitors to grow by 6.6% to £26.6bn. However, they now expect an inbound decline of 54% in visits, and a reduction of 55% in spending. In relation to domestic tourism (UK residents remaining in the UK for holidays/getaways) they expect a reduction of 24% spending in comparison to 2019 (see here for full report).

It has been over a month since lockdown was implemented in the UK. We are now starting to see flickers of light with companies such as B&Q, Burger King, and Greggs reopening their doors. There are also whisperings of a possible resumption of school on the horizon. But how much hope can this offer to UK holiday industry workers (well if nothing else, at least they can grab a sausage roll).

Over the next few weeks, we are expecting the UK government to implement new measures to relax lockdown while trying to maintain social distancing. ­­ With change afoot noted, at the time of writing this article, hotels, hostels, Bed & Breakfasts, holiday rentals and campsites remain on the government’s list of businesses that must remain closed (for exceptions see here).

When we do reopen the doors to the holiday sector in the UK, what can we expect?

Will we see an increase in Staycations?

The hospitality sector faced 70-80% of bookings being cancelled almost immediately when lockdown was announced. In comparison to the same time period in 2019, cancellations have increased by over 500%.

With continued international travel restrictions in over 100 countries, and the global effort to reduce chances of recurring waves and peaks of Covid-19, it is impossible to predict when airlines and borders will be reopened to the extent that they were pre-pandemic. Thus, with flights grounded, borders closed, and the uncertainty of Covid-19, it seems fair to hypothesise that UK residents who are hoping for a getaway in 2020, are likely to be opting for a UK based holiday.

VisitBritain predicts that between June and August there will be a re-opening of the tourism sector. But with social distancing remaining in place, the spending in this industry will remain well below pre-covid levels. It is then hoped that there will be a bounce back period in the last four months of the year. The Chairman of Capital Economics predicts a sharp recovery for the tourism industry and leisure travel. However, he states “the best we can hope is that we get back to where we were” (click here for more).

So how can the UK holiday industry prepare for when restrictions are relaxed? The competition will be more fierce as companies and individuals try to regain some of what has been lost? Price wars and marketing campaigns could mean that those who do not prepare, are pushed to the side, making their 2020 revenue even worse.

Let Virtual Tours Help!

Since the lockdown began, virtual tours have been a window of exploration for adults and children. They have enabled the continued enjoyment of museums, galleries, cathedrals and palaces. We have embraced virtual tours as a result of this pandemic, but they have a significant role to play going forward.

We can’t claim that having a Virtual Tour of your accommodation facilities will ensure that you make up your lost revenue. But here 6 reasons why you should invest in having a virtual tour made.

1) Stand out from the competition:

Showcase your accommodation in a modern, dynamic, interactive manner. Your tour will allow potential guests to explore your spaces before booking. Allow them to walk around your space virtually, checking out the bathrooms, bedrooms, social areas and the other facilities available (see our gallery).

2) Increase Engagement Online:

By posting your virtual tour on your website and social media pages you will increase engagement significantly. At View3D we know that video footage still gains the best traction on social media platforms; this is why we always provide an introductory video walkthrough of holiday homes, so that you can grab the attention of potential guests, and direct them to the full tour.

3) Immerse potential guests with Interactive Data Points:

We use interactive data points throughout our tours. We can embed photos, videos, text, documents, and links to social media platforms and websites. When we create a tour, we liaise with property owners to establish what they would like adding to their tours. By embedding your booking pages directly into the tour, you can easily convert explorers into booked guests.

4) Increase Enquiries and Bookings:

Virtual tours have a proven track record of increasing good quality enquiries and in turn more bookings. As potential guests explore your space, engage with the interactive data points, see your unique selling points, and capture the character of the place, you will see more bookings (average of 45% increase).

5) Offer a more complete service:

As we said above, you can use interactive data points flexibly. So why not provide a more comprehensive service for potential guests, by including information and links to events, tourist attractions, and information about the surrounding area? Include links to your favourite restaurants, takeaways, attractions etc. Consider including information about facilities such as how to use the sound system, the washing machine etc. Your tour can be useful for both marketing and as a ‘how to’ guide for guests (see here).

6) It is a worthwhile Investment:

People often see virtual tours and think that the cost will be too much. Yes, we use state of the art technology but don’t let that make you think the price will be too high. ‘How much is it?’ ... It’s impossible to give a generic price as it all depends on the size of the accommodation, what you would like captured, and the information points you would like included. (Just ask).

The lockdown, social distancing, international travel restrictions, and the attempt to minimise loss of life, have meant that all sectors in the UK have been significantly impacted. With green shoots of hope and movement in other sectors it is likely that lockdown restrictions will soon be relaxed. To what extent and over how long is not yet known. Investing in a virtual tour of your holiday home / accommodation facilities in preparation for reopening, will help you to increase bookings in what will be an increasingly competitive market.


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