Why Don't Brits Holiday in London?

Team Hoo
15th September 2021

With travel restrictions in place and the pandemic still dominating the headlines, 2021 has undoubtedly been the year of the staycation. While Brits hoping to enjoy a well-earned break have descended on the South West of England and Wales, there has been a noticeable decline in visitor numbers in London. In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons why Brits don’t holiday in London and provide suggestions that could help London-based businesses and hospitality venues attract more UK-based tourists. 

Where do Brits go on holiday?

Research conducted by Sykes Holiday Cottages suggested that over 60% of residents were planning to spend their summer holiday in the UK in 2021. The most popular regions for summer staycations include North Wales, Cumbria, Cornwall and Devon. The fastest-growing regions in 2021 are the Peak District, Somerset, East Anglia and the Yorkshire Dales. According to figures from Statista, just 8% of Brits were planning to take holidays in London

The latest research indicates a shift in attitudes in the last year. While London performed well in the list of UK bucket list destinations in 2020, it didn’t appear in the same list in 2021. A survey conducted by holidaycottages.co.uk revealed that London topped the UK’s staycation bucket list in 2020 but failed to make the top 10 in 2021. Cornwall, the Scottish Highlands, Devon and the Lake District were the most popular choices. 

What do British people think about London? 

The pandemic has inspired Brits to discover more rural and coastal areas, with many people swapping exotic beach breaks and resort holidays for camping, renting beach houses and booking hotels in national parks and seaside towns. Although lockdowns and travel restrictions will have influenced trends, there were significant barriers to travelling to and holidaying in London before the pandemic. 

Studies suggest that Brits view London as ‘expensive, chaotic, busy and crowded.’ Research conducted by Leonardo Hotels in 2019 also found that 6% of adults had never visited London, with 50% of those who didn’t envisage making a trip to the capital suggesting that prices were far too high in the city. Over 30% said that it was too busy and crowded and 28% said that it was too far and they didn’t want to make the journey. Over 20% said that the thought of going to London stressed them out. 

Why is the capital not a staycation hot spot?

YouGov polls suggest that Brits see London as a business epicentre rather than a holiday hot spot. More than 75% of adults surveyed agreed that London made a valuable contribution to the UK economy, but only 16% felt that it impacted their local economy. The most popular words used to describe Londoners were ‘diverse, arrogant and insular.’ 

What can London’s hotel sector do to attract more UK visitors?

London has not enjoyed the staycation boom that is clearly visible across swathes of the UK. Many people have booked destinations that offer rural escapes and opportunities to discover national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and coastal resorts but there is a chance that London’s hotel sector has missed a trick in failing to lure in staycationers. London is an incredibly popular destination for foreign visitors but with restrictions still in place, this summer could have been an opportunity to reach out to different markets and boost UK visitor numbers. To attract more UK tourists, hotels could:

  • Focus on new target customers and diversify marketing strategies: the focus has shifted from overseas tourists to UK visitors and this requires a change of tack in terms of marketing and sales. Redefining the ideal customer and finding ways to reach out and connect and engage with them will help brands and businesses to identify new clients and boost bookings. 
  • Extend the season: UK visitors who have saved money by holidaying at home or cancelling trips abroad may be looking to treat themselves after the peak season comes to an end. Travelling to London is also easier and quicker than planning a trip abroad for a weekend away or a half-term break. Extending the season and up-selling breaks and offers in the low season could have a positive impact on reservations.
  • Offers and promotions: promotions attract interest and turn heads. By offering deals, hotels can make trips to London more accessible and affordable for families, solo travellers, large groups and couples.
  • Stay and play ideas: customers today are looking for more than a hotel room to bed down for the night. They want to enjoy an experience. Stay and play offers are a great way to enhance value for consumers. Hotels can put together packages for attractions or promote bundles or experiences, such as spa breaks, theatre and sports events, theme parks and stay and dine deals. 
  • Contact previous customers: networking and building contact lists are beneficial during times when empty rooms are commonplace. Why not get in touch with customers who have stayed with you previously or make the most of company email lists if the hotel is part of a chain? Personalised email offers, exclusive deals and one-off savings may persuade clients to want to visit again or pass the information on to friends and family members looking to plan a break. 
  • Up-sell the location: London is one of the most exciting, energetic and enigmatic cities in the world but studies show that many Brits have a perception of the city that doesn’t align with the traits they look for in a holiday destination. Use marketing and communications to up-sell the city, promote experiences and show prospective customers what they can see, do and enjoy if they choose to visit London for a holiday. 

Staycations have boomed across the UK in 2021 but London has struggled to attract Brits. Studies show that rural and coastal areas have become increasingly popular during the pandemic but it is possible that the hotel sector could do more to tempt UK-based tourists to the capital. London is seen as crowded, inaccessible and expensive but it is possible to change opinions and there is still time to market the city as an attractive holiday destination and boost bookings in the months ahead. Start by getting your resort hotel onto tomorrow's booking offer platform and give those margin-thieving conventional OTAs a kick: join up with hoo here.

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