UK consumers are firmly focused on travel this year, with a number of noticeable booking trends sure to shake up travel 2021.
- Last-minute bookings and flexible cancellation policies make consumers confident to book: Last-minute bookings have been trending since last summer. In December, globally, 14% of reservations were made on the same day as check-in and 38% of reservations were made within a week of the reservation itself. That same month in the US, 14% of reservations were made on the same day as check-in and 36% of reservations were made within a week of the reservation itself. Consumers will increasingly book last-minute trips to avoid having to cancel plans, which will result in a more profitable Q1 2021 than expected, especially coupled with widespread vaccine distribution. A majority of hospitality providers will in parallel offer reduced rates for no-cancellation bookings, which will become increasingly popular as travel normalises.
- Travellers will book for longer: The average length of stay is back on the rise after slightly decreasing last fall. This has been influenced by the more contagious second strain of COVID, and coincides with a shift from multiple short breaks to fewer trips for longer time frames. We saw this in March 2020 when consumers were first hesitant to travel due to the original virus, and are seeing it again now as bookings made in Q1 2021 are significantly longer in the UK; with an average of 9.1 days long compared to Q1 2020’s 4.5. As the vaccine takes effect, the lengths of stay will likely shorten.
- Travellers will look for – and expect – light touch stays: Regardless of where consumers stay, hotel or private rental, travellers will increasingly seek accommodations that are contact-free or light-touch, meaning they have implemented technology to limit human interaction between staff and guests. COVID-19 is speeding up innovation in the space, pushing more traditional property management companies to adopt tech much more quickly than they likely would have. Contact-free stays are one of the top guest expectations to limit as much human interaction as possible, with hospitality companies implementing keyless entry tools, tools to monitor cleaning staff remotely and automated check-in/check-out messaging tools. Property Management Company Mint House has led the way by implementing tech enabled, fully contactless accommodations. In 2020, the use of Guesty’s automated messaging tools jumped 25% from 2019, a year in which hosts needed to rely on tech to support leaner teams. These tools are here to stay in 2021, as safety remains a top concern for travellers.