European hoteliers adapt to growing staycation demand
European hoteliers adapt to growing staycation demand
12 JANUARY 2021 9:15 AM

With money saved from not needing flights, guests who plan staycations are ready to spend close to home, but hoteliers must ensure there is something new, something exciting and even something recognizable.

LONDON—Staycations are here to stay, at least for 2021, and with demand often outstripping supply in markets, there will be competition for staycation bookings if COVID-19 regulations do not change and continue to or further limit movement.

Operators and brands are upping their sales and marketing strategies with incentives and initiatives to make their properties more attractive than their competitors’ offers. Remoteness, style and low-key luxury appear to be the buzzwords for 2021 hotel staycations, sources said.

Grégory Pourrin, managing director of Paris Inn Group, which has ambitions to add 10 hotels every year, said contemplating the growing staycation market has been eye-opening.

“It has been new for us. Most of time when you have a hotel, especially in Paris, you do not care if your guest comes from the U.S. or China. They are your welcome guest, but now we are discovering a new type of guest,” he said.

Pourrin said it had become important to offer new experiences to these guests, which show local flavor but also show what they could find as though they are in another part of the world.

While the average daily rate might be more expensive in such countries as France and the United Kingdom, guests are spending more on treats and experiences, as, generally, they are not paying for expensive flights on a domestic vacation and thus have additional spend for restaurants, spas and the same type of good service they would expect anywhere else, he said.

Independent hoteliers, too, are aware of what the new guest is looking for, said Julia Davies, co-owner, head of marketing and a former market-insight manager at the 32-room The Cottage in the Wood in Malvern Wells, England.

She said one trend she has seen is that guests are opting to stay longer.

“British holidays are becoming their summer holidays, and it is our job to make them excited, to show amazing things in the local area,” she said.

One initiative at Davies’ hotel is the creation of attractions packages such as driving experiences, pottery lessons and vineyard tour and tastings. She said the hope is that such packages attract longer guest stays.

Nick Davies, co-owner of The Cottage in the Wood, said his positive outlook for 2021 comes from an exceptional summer 2020 season, in which year-over-year revenue increased 70% and average daily rate increased between 30% and 40%.

He said the summer 2020 rush came in late June when domestic vacationers knew the U.K. planned to open up hotels and tourism again following the first COVID-19 lockdown. Demand this winter had been good, but it took a hit after Christmas once the country was placed into its second lockdown.

“Average spend, without rooms, was up 25% last summer,” he said. “British people got their first taste of U.K. hospitality, which is a great product.”

The couple bought the property five years ago and have since completed a £2-million ($2.7 million) refurbishment.

“Our rural location and the refurb have promoted us. The demand is for high-end country-house hotels, which is what we are,” he added.

Julia Davies said guests have expressed concerns about security and health risks when traveling internationally and that flights will become more expensive.

“You have to continue the conversation and adjust it with regular guests and followers on social media. You have to let people know we are here and that they can book now,” she said.

Paris Inn Group’s Pourrin said to be ready to adapt to changing guest types.

“The big question we have is tomorrow will we keep this type of customer?” he said.

Marketing needs to be done now. Nick Davies said 2021’s offers would follow that of 2020, with, if anything, booking lead-time being even shorter.

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