Hoseasons, cottages.com and Skykes Holiday Cottages saw record online sales yesterday after Boris Johnson gave the go ahead for domestic holidays to restart in England from July 4.
Hoseasons recorded one booking every 11 seconds in the hours after the prime minister’s lunchtime announcement on Tuesday as customers scrambled to book staycations.
Sales were up 270% for the lodge specialist by the end of the day, with sister company cottages.com reporting a 455% increase as both brands smashed previous record sales days.
Bookings by travel agents showed a 236% increase for Hoseasons compared to the same day last year in the best trading day of 2020.
A new ‘Safe Stays’ initiative has been introduced where locations can sign up to confirm they have extra cleaning protocols and social distancing measures in place for guests.
Simon Altham, chief commercial officer of Awaze UK – parent company of both brands – said: “We were expecting greater levels of interest, but the surge in demand was still surprising and we certainly hadn’t expected a record day.
“Over the last few weeks we’ve seen volumes of enquires and bookings increase on a daily basis, as people begin to become more confident about booking a UK holiday.
“Government confirmation seems to have just given people an extra level of certainty.”
He added: “All the evidence suggests that holidays remain a priority for most people, and this year more than ever the chance to get away is something customers are very much looking forward to. July and August are likely to be very busy as a result, but we’re also expecting greater than usual levels of demand for September and October too as the season extends.
“While there is still a long way to go, and everyone must continue to remain vigilant, this could be the beginning of a very significant and much needed boost for the sector. At the moment holidaying closer to home is good for the soul and the UK economy.”
Rest Easy Group, the parent company of brands including Snaptrip, Big-Cottages.com and LastMinute-Cottages.co.uk, also saw record activity on Tuesday, claiming a 172% rise in bookings with Devon and Cornwall the top destinations. Half the bookings were for travel in July.
Chief executive Matt Fox said: “It’s no secret that it’s been a tough few months for the travel sector worldwide, so we welcomed the news from the government yesterday that staycations will be allowed to go ahead from the 4th of July. And it seems the public did too.
“During the last three months we have seen a steady increase in bookings for mid-to-late 2021, but yesterday’s announcement sent a flood of new traffic to all our brands as people get excited about travelling again in 2020.”
Sykes Holiday Cottages reported a 221% year on year increase in bookings yesterday against June 23, 2019. Traffic to the Sykes Holiday Cottages website was up 102% aginst the same day last year.
Compared to four weeks ago (May 26, 2020) Sykes Holiday Cottages saw a 417% uplift in bookings and 177% increase in site visits.
Sykes’ chief executive Graham Donoghue said: “We’ve seen a significant increase in bookings for later this year, showing that confidence is returning and just how eager we all are to take a much-needed break away this year.
“Self-catering holidays are arguably the safest way to travel at the moment. People can travel with family ‘bubbles’, in their own cars, and there are no shared facilities.
“We’re doing what we can to make sure holidays feel much the same, just with a few very important changes.
“Previously our owners have met guests to check in and hand over the keys, but they’re now expected to introduce contactless key collections – either by keeping a safe distance or installing key lock boxes.
“Although cleanliness has always been a top priority, we’re making sure every cottage in our care is deep cleaned and sanitised during guest changeovers. Visitors will also be given essential items such as hand soap, hand sanitiser and cleaning products to use during their stay.”
Bookings via Pitchup-com rose with accommodation booked for more than 8,200 British holidaymakers.
The company saw bookings quadruple after the PM’s announcement with the highest number in one day for the UK since it was founded more than ten years ago.
More than 98% of bookings were for holidays in the UK.