UK consumers took a record 46.5 million overseas holidays in 2017, a staggering one million higher than the previous record year. This year is looking equally as busy, with Q1 and Q2 stats released by the Office of National Statistics matching those from last year.
So, while next year is looking positive for UK outbound travel, we also know it’s going to be different. Here are the trends which will impact outbound travel in 2019 and how they can be used to make sure that your destination is top of UK holidaymakers’ lists.
1. The ‘B’ Word
This time last year, we were reading reports of how a ‘no deal’ Brexit could curb the expansion of the British outbound travel market. Perhaps we’re putting too much weight on the implications of Brexit?
The year after the EU referendum, when the €:£ rate was touching 1.1, UK overseas holidays hit record levels. With a weaker pound seemingly not putting off UK consumers, plus the possibility of continuing to play by EU rules until 2022, I don’t think we need to be too worried about how issues like ‘open skies’ and visas will affect Brits’ appetite for outbound travel in the immediate future.
My advice? Don’t let the negative media coverage of Brexit get to you. The upward trend shows that people will still be going on holiday and will make other necessary sacrifices to ensure that they get their time abroad.Don’t let the negative coverage of Brexit get to you. The upward trend shows that people will still be going on holiday and will make other necessary sacrifices to ensure that they get their time abroad #Destinationmarketing Click To Tweet
2. Authentic travel
As well as eating in the sorts of joints that real New Yorkers or Londoners or Parisians dine in, tourists (but don’t call them that) will search out experiences that allow them to get an authentic feel for what it’s like to truly live like a local.
We’ll see more people skip the gondola in Venice in favour of the vaporetto. Perhaps we’ll even see travellers take up friendly invites from locals to join them for a home-cooked meal or a cup of tea?
My advice? Make sure that your content highlights these authentic experiences. Showcase a small, locally-owned business on your social media channels or have an ‘insider’s guide’ to your city or destination on your website.
3. Bragging rights
The desire for authentic travel is, in part at least, borne out of a desire to do something a bit different. Those travellers who are a little more adventurous don’t want a mainstream travel experience either – they want something that will give them ‘bragging rights’ when they sit down to have dinner with a group of friends.
So, instead of heading to Machu Picchu, they might seek out Kuelap Fortress, which is larger than the former and won’t be found in too many mainstream travel guides. The last thing they want to hear their friends say is “We visited that, too”…
My advice? This ties into the previous two points. Highlight the activities or experiences that your destination has to offer that are unusual, less popular or potentially more difficult to get to.
Some tourism boards have had to resort to pleading for people to stay away from their destination, with visitors arriving in their numbers and causing all sorts of problems for locals.
In 2019, it will be about how tourist boards balance popularity of their destinations with ensuring that locals are not suffering the consequences of the seasonal peaks, which can affect their lifestyles, access to amenities and general well-being.
My advice? Promote areas that are overlooked and create buzz around your off-peak offerings.
5. Solo travel
According to ABTA’s latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in 2017 – double the number compared to six years ago.
It seems that travellers are no longer daunted by the prospect of map-reading and not being able to speak the native language – with Google on their smartphones, getting around has never been easier.
My advice? Make sure that your website is up to date and contains guides and information for solo travellers. You could also look at inviting solo travel influencers to your destination.
Clear skies ahead
So, there you have it – to make the most of a positive-looking 2019, you just need to make sure that your marketing messages are in line with the market’s changing requirements and that the right messages are going to the right audience (this is where data capture becomes so valuable).
To find out how we can help you stay on the right side of 2019’s outbound travel trends, just email me on email@example.com or give me a call on 0117 440 0500.
Simon is one of the founders of Digital Visitor and has over 20 years marketing experience in the tourism sector, particularly with destinations and visitor attractions.