Though outbound travel to destinations across Europe is expected to resume from 4 July – with the Government apparently poised to confirm travel corridors to up to 10 countries in the coming days – a recent surge in online activity demonstrates unprecedented demand for a British bolthole once lockdown restrictions are eased.
According to figures released by Rest Easy Group – the parent company of brands such as Snaptrip, DogFriendlyCottages.co.uk, Big-Cottages.com, LastMinute-Cottages.co.uk and LateRooms.com – web traffic increased by up to 381% at peak hours across its portfolio after Boris Johnson announced the easing of lockdown measures on Tuesday 23 June.
What’s more, the group has also revealed an increase of 69% in traffic and 172% in bookings compared with this time last year – with more than 50% of staycation reservations made for July.
Two fifths of these bookings were made by couples or families, while 58% were from groups of three or more adults.
“It’s no secret it’s been a tough few months for the travel sector worldwide, so we welcomed the news from the Government that staycations will be allowed to go ahead from 4 July and it seems the public did too,” Matt Fox, CEO and co-founder of Rest Easy Group, said.
“During the past three months, we have seen a steady increase in bookings for mid-to-late 2021, but the Prime Minister’s announcement sent a flood of new traffic to all our brands as people get excited about travelling again in 2020.”
People have missed pubs
In light of the Prime Minister announcing pubs can reopen from 4 July, it’s expected inn operators and pubs with rooms will likewise be caught up in post-lockdown escapism.
According to a recent survey of 12,000 customers by pub room booking site Stay in a Pub, when asked how comfortable they would feel about staying overnight in a pub, 41% of those quizzed answered “completely comfortable” while 80% said “pretty comfortable”.
With Cornwall and Devon topping the list of most popular British post-lockdown staycation destinations according to Rest Easy Group, Steve Worrall, managing director of south west operator St Austell Brewery’s pubs, inns and hotels, says the tourism spike could provide a crucial contribution to the business’ recovery.
“Tourism is vitally important to the south west’s economy and summer trade is particularly critical for businesses like ours,” he said.
“The announcement, that we can welcome guests back to our pubs from 4 July, is a huge relief. Being able to operate in July and August will really help when it comes to our recovery.
“As well as our local communities, we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the region from next weekend and will be introducing a number of extra measures in our pubs, to ensure safe socialising.”
Worrall adds that the operator of more than 180 pubs and inns across the region has already been caught up in the flurry of activity.
“Since the Government announcement, we’ve been delighted to see a spike in room bookings for July and August,” he said.
“We’re so glad people have missed our pubs and are looking forward to returning for the summer. Things may be a little different for a while but we’re still able to offer relaxing staycations for our guests with complete peace of mind and great hospitality.”
Thriving in the ‘new normal’
At the opposite end of the country, the operator of 13 sites across Northumberland, County Durham, Yorkshire and the Lake District, the Inn Collection Group, has seen a huge uptick in web traffic numbers since the Prime Minister’s confirmation that pubs can resume trade from 4 July.
“We are delighted the Government has given us the green light to reopen soon,” managing director Sean Donkin, explained. “It’s short notice, however we’ve been planning and implementing changes for the past three months and feel confident and ready to welcome returning and new guests to our inns.
“Since the announcement, we saw our highest web traffic numbers since lockdown and a large increase in bookings, especially for July and August, which is fantastic.
“It would be great to see something positive come out of this for the UK hospitality industry and a boom in staycations is on the rise. We’ve always firmly believed staycations offer something exceptional and hopefully this will give people the opportunity to understand why.
“We have all be hugely impacted by the past few months, but now it’s time to be positive and to find a way of thriving in this ‘new normal’.
“A boom in staycations will definitely help with that and we are really looking forward to showing the UK public why our locations really are great places to visit.”
What’s more, marketing director of Fuller’s Jane Jones, added that the operator of 215 managed pubs, including 1,028 boutique bedrooms from the City of London heartland to tourist hotspots such as the Jurassic Coast and the New Forest, is well positioned to benefit from post-lockdown escapism.
“The coronavirus pandemic, and the current restrictions around quarantine and international travel, will hopefully provide an uptick in staycations.
“With properties in fantastic tourist sites like the New Forest and the Cotswolds, we are well-positioned to benefit from this and we have launched a campaign on social media, #OutAndAbout, to drive business to our beautiful bedrooms.”