The passing of the two-year anniversary since the first lockdown in the UK, provides a moment to reflect on the changed needs and expectations of the typical traveller and hotel guest, and to consider how the industry must adapt in the months and years to come.
The pandemic has changed how, why and where we travel, giving way to new trends such as the rise of “bleisure travel”, “workations” and “staycations”. Similarly, it has catalysed the importance of smart and contact-free technology in hotels and given guests a renewed desire for novel experiences and a sense of escapism.
The rise of the ‘bleisure traveller’
As hybrid working becomes commonplace in the UK and the boundaries of home and the office have blended, it seems travelling for business and leisure have too merged. This has given way to a new type of tourist: the “bleisure traveller”.
“Bleisue” travel can mean transforming a work trip into an extended getaway or even seeking a holiday destination or retreat to work from remotely. Becoming popular with young professionals, one survey by Hilton Hotels reported that 70% of business travellers aged 25-30 would like to extend work trips into a mini holiday.
Initially, it might not seem that working on a ‘holiday’ could be conducive to a relaxing escape. However, 80% of 1,000 “bleisure travellers” surveyed, reported that their trip had increased their productivity and creativity, and reduced their feelings of stress.
Keeping the permanent shift in working culture in mind, it should now be essential for hotels to market themselves as an attractive “bleisure destination”, especially when it comes to the younger demographic.
Hotels must go beyond offering the simple amenities that guests need. Hoteliers must demonstrate the “workation” potential of their hotel, for example, by ensuring there is strong and reliable internet and ample workspace.
Ever since the pandemic shook the hospitality industry like never before, smart technology has proven its valuable place in the industry. From QR codes to robotic butlers, the benefits of technology when it comes to hygiene, health, safety and efficiency have been realised.
Any hotel that is not up to date with the latest tech risks being left behind in 2022.
There is a misconception that modern technology must come at the expense of authenticity, history and charm. However, hotels that allow guests to “step into another era” can still certainly find a balance and co-existence between the old and new.
For example, at Burgh Island, Agatha’s Beach House, originally built in the 1930s, has remained a charming and authentic beach retreat, whilst being brought up to meet the needs and expectations of modern guests, kitted out with the latest technology.
Embrace the staycation boom through unforgettable experiences
Travelers are abundant with optimism for 2022, over 60% of Europeans are confident about taking a trip in the first half of the year. Within this, there is a strong appetite for “staycations”.
Whether it’s motivated by sustainable travel, avoiding flights or complicated travel restrictions and document checks, the UK’s tourism industry is set to boom.
In fact, by 2025, the UK’s tourism industry is predicted to be worth over £257 billion. This trend has been reflected at Burgh Island, where we have already reached 80% booking capacity for the first half of this financial year.
To partake in this staycation boom, hotels must present themselves as more than just a room to sleep in. In 2022, guests are looking for something that goes beyond the generic “cookie-cutter” type hotel.
Almost 70% of travellers want to return home from a holiday having experienced something new, and there is a huge opportunity here for hotels to facilitate this.  To stand out as the number one “staycation” destination, guests need to be kept on their toes with exciting and unique offers.
For example, at Burgh Island, our resident artist offers captivating artistic workshops, allowing guests to connect with their creative side during their stay on our private island. If this is not for them, perhaps shark tagging, a dip in the mermaid pool or a murder mystery evening might appeal, followed by an unforgettable dining experience in one of our luxury sustainable restaurants.
Mastering how to deliver unforgettable experiences that keep guests coming back year after year is the key to capitalising on the staycation boom.
As the UK begins to live with Covid-19, every industry should be thinking about how it can adapt to meet the needs and expectations of consumers, and hospitality is no different. As new travel trends emerge following the shift to hybrid working, and the UK’s domestic tourism industry takes off, hoteliers must be dynamically adapting to meet the wants and needs of guests in 2022.