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Hotel booking data suggests the UK staycation boom has already begun – with an all-time high of bookings in the immediate wake of the Prime Minister’s announcement last night, showing a 307% year-on-year increase.

Using data specifically for UK properties, Profitroom, a leading provider of hotel marketing services, which has access to booking data from more than 3,500 leisure hotels and resorts around the world, was able to determine a huge spike in bookings.

Comparing stats from UK hotel bookings on 22nd February 2020 (before the UK coronavirus crisis started), the brand reported a 307% increase – a record high for hotel bookings.

Furthermore, room night bookings (the number of nights booked per stay) were up by 605%, suggesting guests are booking longer stays as they look to get away.

Additional data showing an average booking window of 111 days (the time taken from the point of booking to arrival), indicates a strong domestic summer season with business almost booming again overnight.

In a further boost to hoteliers’ bottom lines, direct bookings also increased by 685% – meaning guests are going directly to the hotel to make a reservation, as opposed to booking via Online Travel Agents. This means hotels and resorts will avoid high commission fees; something that should help them in their recovery.

Samantha Williams, UK Market Owner at Profitroom, commenting on the data, said, “Whilst we were expecting a surge in bookings this has gone way beyond our expectations – and it’s fabulous news for hotels. After months of reduced revenues, this will be a hugely welcome boost, with advance bookings helping to inject vital revenue that should, hopefully, enable hotels to make it through to the reopening date.”

She added, “Of course hotels still face a very challenging few weeks ahead of May 17th, but these early signs show enormous promise, and we hope that the crisis for hotels now shows signs of coming to an end. With direct bookings also increasing (a trend we’ve seen since the start of the crisis), hotels will also be able to enjoy more revenue per booking – a development which will be hugely beneficial as they look to recover from these challenging months.”

With the prospect of reopening on the horizon, Profitroom has put together its key steps for how operators can take advantage of the surge in demand:

1. Increase your minimum length of stay restrictions
Put simply, this encourages guests to book for longer, allowing hotels to get more value from each individual booking and helps to fill shoulder nights to reduce occupancy gaps. People will also be looking to take advantage of longer breaks now, especially domestically, so give them the option. We recommend the optimal minimum LOS restriction for the summer season should be 3 nights.

2. Add more upsells & experiences
With the cabin fever of lockdown restricting so many of us, more people than ever are open to adding luxuries or exciting extras to hotel stays – so look to provide upsells that entice guests, encouraging them to spend more.

3. Increase peak season prices
Demand will be high, so increase prices to reflect this; especially during peak season. As we saw following lockdown 1, demand quickly outstripped supply and many hotels were sold out.

4. Extend ‘traditional’ seasons
Summer for hotels traditionally runs from the third week of July to September 1st, however hotels should look to extend this from June until September. With homeschooling and virtual working ever more prevalent, there’s more opportunity for people to get away, with fewer term time restrictions.

5. Add more packages to generate higher booking value
In a similar vein to adding experiences, unique and creative packages are easier to sell – think about what people want post-lockdown; be that ‘self-care’ packages, outdoor activities, or simply treating themselves to a high-end experience.

6. Configure paid dog stays online
Lockdown saw a huge increase in dog ownership. Not just this, with owners being home all the time, many dogs now have separation anxiety. So, we anticipate a boom in people wanting to take their dogs on holiday with them – make sure you’re well placed to take advantage if you’re dog friendly, with prominently placed messaging and targeted promotions.

7. COVID guarantees
Safety and trust are important factors, especially as consumer confidence grows in the wake of the vaccine, but make sure you reassure guests that you’re COVID secure.

8. Payment Schedules
With longer stays and higher prices, look to provide an option for guests to establish a payment plan to tempt them to extend their booking. Profitroom has a new feature that allows for this – and it’s proving extremely popular with guests.

(source: Profitroom, image: pexels)