With the uncertainty of the effects of Brexit reaching boiling point, concerns that UK outbound tourism is cooling are taking centre-stage. However, despite the potential hurdles that could arise from a messy break with Europe, smart marketing and knowledge of the current trends could give your destination marketing a leg up. The UK has the worldwide, so read on for the 5 trends that will affect UK outbound travel in 2020, and how you can hone your marketing strategy for the best chance of success.
The Brexit effect
I predict an upswing in domestic tourism over the next four years as Brits shy away from booking their usual trips to the continent in the face of potential policy changes, teamed with the weaker pound. While leisure spend has traditionally been the last essential that consumers are likely to cut from tightening budgets, the rise in popularity of entertainment services such as Netflix may see creature comforts take precedence over holidays. Domestic itineraries that offer excellent value-for-money are likely to catch the post-Brexit holiday-maker’s eye.
However, this isn’t to say that overseas trips are completely off the table. Savvy travellers who can’t resist the call of abroad may focus on local zones which don’t use the Euro with destinations like Poland and Morocco enjoying a surge in interest.
We can also expect to see some delay in holiday booking as we wait to find out what the post-Brexit landscape looks like. Brits are already relatively tardy when it comes to locking down travel plans compared to our European neighbours, but this unpredictability may result in a further delay with the traditional January booking peak shifting to February or even March. Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, people are unlikely to book trips too far in advance until the lay of the land becomes clear.
Ethical travel in the spotlight
From the tragic Australian bushfires to Greta Thunberg’s notorious UN speech, environmental concerns have moved into the spotlight over the past year with travellers becoming more aware of the impact they have on the planet and making buying decisions accordingly. Whether it’s attractions and tour companies that boast socially-conscious credentials or airlines with carbon offset schemes, we can expect consumers to choose eco-friendly options, support local businesses and kick plastics to the curb.
Tailor your marketing to highlight any ethical processes you utilise to give travellers the satisfaction and reassurance they can satiate their wanderlust while supporting positive change. Not only will this approach encourage those who are looking for a reason to buy from you, but it may also turn the heads of those who hadn’t considered it.
Responsible travel also includes addressing the challenges surrounding over-tourism, a trend we highlighted in our predictions . Encourage green travellers to walk the road less travelled by showcasing the benefits of visiting your country or attraction off-season, and remember to emphasise the potential for more authentic experiences during these traditionally quieter times of the year.
Senior travel is changing
The silver traveller has transformed. This generation is healthier and more active than ever before, craving bespoke, experience-rich travel that allows them to embrace their later years with gusto. This is a tech-savvy group — 80% of people aged 65-74 access the Internet daily — so, ensure you develop a robust to complement your offline efforts, adapting your method of communication depending on how they choose to respond.
It’s also worth noting that family time is at a premium amongst this cohort with grandparents using their disposable income to create lasting memories with their children and grandkids. Multi-generational ‘grand-getaways’ are set to be hot news for the UK outbound market with the whole family having a hand in the decision-making process. Let go of any negative stereotypes in your destination marketing and appeal to this growing, active, and digitally-friendly audience with an approach that encompasses social channels, online videos and appealing, targeted ads that showcase the family-friendly side to your offering. With family travellers tending to prioritise convenience over price, opportunities in this sector could prove lucrative.
The mini-break gains traction
Gone are the days of saving all year for one big summer holiday, today’s changing work patterns have left travellers keen to see more places while making the most of fewer days off. Not only are mini-breaks far less stressful to plan than a longer trip, but they offer plenty more exciting experiences to look forward to when spread throughout the year — a welcome break from long hours or stressful jobs. Destinations and attractions can benefit from this trend by creating simple 2-3 day itineraries that make the most of every second of a trip. Just don’t forget to include optional activities to indulge in relaxation too.
Package holidays will evolve
If one of the most domestically and internationally recognised British travel companies can go under, then anyone can. Consumer trust in travel brands has waned since Thomas Cook’s departure with many travellers left questioning the benefits of using a package holiday provider. With increasingly intelligent online tools making independent travel planning a piece of cake, those most likely to keep the middle man are likely to be price-motivated. For certain destinations and holiday lengths, the package model is likely to retain its appeal with the most likely age groups to book a package holiday being the 18-24 cohort and those with families up to the age of 44. However, to succeed, the 2020 package holiday needs to offer greater flexibility in terms of choice and price-point, so that customers feel they are taking the driving seat with the added benefits of customer protection and support.
Even in times of change, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Forearmed with an understanding of the upcoming UK tourism trends, it’s possible to adapt your existing marketing strategy to attract the 2020 audience. For help capitalising on these trends, get in touch at or give me a call on 0117 440 0500.
Anthony Rawlins is the Founder and CEO of Digital Visitor and has over 15 years experience in crafting digital and media strategies. He has worked with businesses across the tourism industry, including UK and international DMO’s, global travel companies and attractions. At Digital Visitor, Anthony is responsible for service innovation and works alongside the agencies biggest clients to shape their strategies and to target hard-to-reach audiences.
Anthony speaks at major industry events across the world, sharing his insights and providing thought leadership content. His personal passion is communicating the UK ’s travel offering to the ‘EasyJet generation’, many of whom have travelled the world but have never explored the UK.