Agents who market domestic holidays can tap into a wide range of consumers, willing and able to book a holiday after a year of lockdowns and travel curbs.
That was the message from the trade during a Travel Weekly webcast about opportunities opening up in the staycation sector as prospects for overseas trips remain uncertain amid the pandemic.
Richard Singer, chief executive of price comparison website icelolly.com, said: “There has been huge devastation for many, many people yet there’s the other side of the fence – where people have got more savings, they’ve not been away for two years, their jobs aren’t affected and they feel quite comfortable.
“They haven’t spent any money on holidays in the last two years. They’re not going to any meals, have not been to the pub or had a haircut.
“People want something to look forward to.”
He said Icelolly.com is expanding its range of domestic holidays, which launched last summer in response to the overseas travel restrictions.
Its clientele is largely families and young couples who usually book foreign trips but it is now seeing interest in its domestic options such as cottage breaks and beach holidays.
“We’ve still got tens of thousands of people every day, coming on and searching on our site for destinations…split between short-haul, more people looking for long-haul, and also looking for the UK.”
Phil Nuttall, owner of the travel agencies Holiday Village and Travel Village, commented: “Demand is going to outstrip supply for the next two years in terms of UK breaks.”
He has ramped up his range of domestic holidays in response to the pandemic and said agents have plenty of options for selling coach holidays in the UK. However, he highlighted there is a limited number of suppliers offering a wider range of products.
“It’s about having that relationship with the tour operator. We have started to build strong relationships; we’ve gone out and spoken to these people who’ve got the inventory,” he said.
He said the agencies have to be creative with their marketing as they cannot justify spending money on attracting new customers.
“We need to educate our existing guests,” he said, adding that he is going to record a video for his online channels to encourage customers to talk to his staff about UK holidays.
Andy Freeth, chief executive of coach tours and UK breaks specialist JG Travel Group, said his brands are keen to work with agents.
The clientele for JG Travel brands are more mature travellers, many of whom have already received a Covid-19 vaccine which has given them confidence to book UK tours.
“Any tour operator or coach operator that doesn’t want to work with the trade will be missing a trick,” he said.
“Use us. We will provide you with all the marketing stuff.”