The world as we know it has changed. And while there is still much uncertainty around international travel, the search volumes for local staycations clearly support an appetite for going on holiday. One thing we know for certain is that consumers will behave differently online after this. They already are.
So with holiday parks, caravan and campsites around the country opening their doors to the public once again, there are new opportunities for them to adapt to cater for the change in consumer behaviour since the start of lockdown.
Visit Britain – COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker
Since lockdown started, Visit Britain has commissioned a weekly tracking survey to understand domestic intent to take short breaks and holidays both within the U.K. and abroad. Used as a barometer of consumer confidence, it has a particular focus around the current barriers and concerns around travel and how these will evolve over time.
(The COVID-19 consumer sentiment tracker is based on a U.K. nationally representative sample of 1,500 adults aged 16+.)
The latest sentiment tracker offers key insights into what potential guests are thinking, including:
- Only 11% of U.K. residents believe life will return to ‘something close to normal’ by September; this metric has declined significantly compared to last week.
- 26% think something close to normality will return by December, whilst most think it will be at least January or further into 2021.
- 26% of U.K. adults anticipate going on their next U.K. short break or holiday by this September, slightly higher than the proportion intending to do so in week 6 (24%), and the highest total seen so far.
- 20% plan on taking their next UK trip between October and March, whilst 18% would like to take a trip but are unsure when they will do so.
- ‘Countryside or village’ and ‘traditional coastal/seaside town’ (34% and 33% respectively) are the two main destination types for a trip between July and September.
- From October onwards, ‘countryside or village’ (31%), ‘city or large town’ (30%) and ‘traditional coastal/seaside town’ (28%) are the three preferred destination types.
Looking at the data there is clearly some cautious optimism for those involved in the UK staycation sector. However, Visit Britain’s data also suggests there are still some concerns as we emerge from lockdown.
The conditions essential for people to stay in accommodation this summer include:-
- Steps to reduce cross-contamination (83%)
- Ensure social distancing (82%)
- ‘Booking incentives’ (80%).
- Guest/staff interventions (71%)
Clearly, there is demand and an opportunity for brands in the holiday park industry to kick-start the recovery process but easing safety concerns will be a priority.
- One thing has become abundantly clear; international travel will be a rarity in 2020.
- Holiday parks therefore need to take advantage of short-term opportunities and adapt to changing consumer behaviour for staycations.
- Businesses need to show the general public that it’s safe to share spaces with other holiday makers once again and this will be the key theme in search marketing campaigns.
Use this time wisely!
More than ever before, holiday, caravan parks and campsite need to focus on providing unique hospitality experiences for the domestic market and be proactive in their digital marketing efforts. Now is the time to invest in your digital strategy and ensure your park is prepared for the recovery.
Reassure your guests (whatever stage of the customer journey)
The customer journey has changed. Post Covid-19 bookings are taking longer to complete – on average up to 5x more than before the crisis. It means that holidaymakers need a lot more reassurance and guidance before committing to making a booking
The research phase for many prospective guests will take much longer – so don’t be surprised to see an increase in website sessions as visitors revisit your pages time and again to check information.
- Take note of sentiments above and ensure your messaging about safety measures and social distancing are prominent in all of your communications.
- Use remarketing campaigns on Facebook and with Google Adwords to nurture that low intent traffic, and ensure you provide personalised on-site messaging to medium and high-intent traffic.
- Don’t forget that it is important to step up your communication with pre-stay guests in the lead up to their holiday. It is likely that non-secure booking cancellations will become the norm in the travel industry for some time yet – so there is even more reason to communicate with your guests prior to their arrival.
Tweak your digital focus towards staycations
With more guests looking for that first getaway after lockdown now is the time to focus your digital attention on the “Great British staycation”.
- In the early weeks of July and August it is likely that many of your first guests won’t want to travel that far and could easily live within a short drive to your park. So think about segmenting your database / booking systems to target those that live local first.
- We have seen searches for “staycation”, “camping” and “caravan” all rise rapidly in the last two or three weeks – whilst search terms like “holidays by the coast” have also begun popular. For those parks that are located either by the coast or in a rural setting, now is the time to highlight the benefits of your “fresh air hotels”. Wide open spaces, beaches and lots of walks nearby – what more could anybody want?
Using SEO to drive recovery
As we come out of lockdown, “near me” searches have started to increase again. Over the past couple of weeks, generic search terms like “what is open” have turned into “what is open near me” as consumers come to grips with the idea that living locally is going to become the new normal for a while.
Local SEO is therefore an area that holiday parks can use to their advantage and improve their search visibility. And there are plenty of things that you can do to maximise your reach.
- Keep your opening hours and any other business details up to date at all times in Google My Business.
- Add new images showing the safety measures taken to minimise potential risks.
- Add attributes for COVID-safe services like takeaways, delivery, pickups and contactless payments. See Martins Bar example below.
- Keep an eye on ‘questions and answers’ in your Google My Business to make sure potential customers have all the relevant information they need.
- Ask customers to leave reviews across all of your review platforms (TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook etc) and prompt people to mention the measures you’ve taken to keep people safe, as this will be the key selling point in the future.
If you would like help in reviewing your digital strategy post-lockdown or are interested in driving more holiday bookings and caravan sales through SEO, get in touch to find out more.
Main image courtesy of Skelwith Fold Caravan Park