The Guide to UK & Ireland Booking Habits

Gina Purdue

The consumer journey is no longer one straightforward Yellow Brick Road that leads to a hotel booking. Instead, it’s long and winding with forks and shiny signs at every turn. This fragmentation is due to new ways of searching and booking, both online and offline. When compared with ten years ago, 30% of Brits claim they now do more research before booking trips thanks to the creation of more online review sites.

Fragmentation is here to stay, and hoteliers can act upon it. It starts with understanding what inspires the traveler and embracing his or her behavior and booking habits at every touchpoint.

Who’s traveling to your property and why does it matter?

When we think about tourism within the UK & Ireland, there are two types of traveller, those who reside in the UK & Ireland and those who visit. What inspires them to book?

Domestic holiday-makers value experience, but at the right cost:

Two-thirds of Brits would prefer to spend money on travel than anything else. But with purse strings getting tighter in light of a depreciated pound through 2019, value for money is top of mind when booking holidays. For this reason, 60% of UK travelers opt for package holidays. Looking ahead, this trend continues, as all-inclusive trips are on the rise (ABTA). For the cost-conscious consumer, packaged deals on trips can excite, delight and lead to bookings.

Staycations are another considerable and cost-effective area of opportunity. The desire of UK citizens to stay closer to home has led to growth in smaller-scale, ‘heritage’ cities like Bath and York. A 2019 survey revealed that the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby was the number one summer staycation destination for Brits. In Ireland, domestic trips are also on the rise, with the republic seeing a steady increase between 2014 and 2018.

Shifting the focus to those visiting the UK & Ireland, how can hoteliers adapt their tactics to better appeal to these audiences?

Visitors stay for less, but spending is up in 2020

With both the UK & Ireland seeing more visitors than ever before, there’s big potential for hotels to capture more bookings. The cherry on top? Visitor spending is also set to rise, reaching new records in 2020. When it comes to search and book, online is key for European Travelers. 69% of visitors to Ireland use the internet to plan their trips. And for Brits, French and Germans, OTAs are the main channel for booking. Despite an increase in spending, some Europeans are still cost-conscious, with the French citing budget as a key factor when booking travel. For Ireland, it’s a slightly prettier picture, as 93% of visitors book for the beautiful scenery in the Emerald Isle. Shorter trips are also more common, with 41% of visitors staying between one and three nights.

How can you use search and booking habits to drive more bookings?

Hoteliers will benefit from evolving from a product-centric to a consumer-centric mindset. That means a data-driven acquisition strategy, backed up by the right tool, is a must. Here are the steps to get there:

  1. Personalize, personalize, personalize.
    Once you have a complete customer profile, you’re on your way to executing a targeted marketing plan. For the cost-conscious traveler, or those seeking an experience, loyalty programs with additional benefits or rewards can be an effective tool in converting travelers into repeat guests. Learn how CRM technology supports guest loyalty and higher revenue in our latest fact sheet.
  2. Understand and diversify your channel mix.
    With many travelers choosing OTAs over other channels, it’s key for hoteliers to bring greater balance to their booking equation. Tactics such as offering rate parity and developing omnichannel campaigns can help bring more traffic to your website. Find out more about how to increase direct booking performance in our playbook here.
  3. Maximize Website Conversion
    When potential travelers land on your website, maximize your chances for conversion with a clean mobile-first design, experiential multimedia, conversion-focused content, and clear calls to action. Get all the details in our new Website Best Practices fact sheet.
  4. Embrace SEO
    Leverage search engine optimization to make your hotel stand out from the crowd and remain competitive in online search results. Check out our new SEO Best Practices fact sheet to learn key SEO tips and tricks to improve your hotel’s search rankings.

Optimize your distribution strategy and maximize direct hotel bookings with TravelClick’s Reservations & Booking Engine solutions.

Discover more of our dedicated UK & Ireland resources.