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How is the cost of living crisis impacting travel trends?

Peter Ducker is an Expert Advisory Council member for P&G Professional and the former institute of hospitality CEO

I haven’t looked it up, but I’m pretty sure that before he became a writer, Dante worked in hospitality. How else could he have come up with the concept of nine circles of hell?

Following on from Brexit, Covid and the impact of working from home, we now face the cost of living crisis. The beauty of this one is that it hits us twice – our operating costs have scaled up faster than the published rates of inflation. Most hospitality is property based, so we’re hit particularly hard by energy costs and business rates in addition to manic food cost and wage inflation. 

When there are so many clouds in the sky, it’s hard to see any silver linings – but never underestimate the resilience of the British holidaymaker, or forget that through Covid people realised just how much they missed travel and the pleasure of dining out.

I didn’t sit down to write this to drive you into deeper despair or tell you things you already know.  What I hope to do is focus on the opportunities presented to us in adversity. 

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The UK travel industry grew by 60% in 2022 according to a survey conducted by MoneyTransfers.com as we packed our bags post-Covid. This year, 75% of the UK population say they are planning to take a holiday. Costs, plus the hassles created by industrial action will dissuade many from venturing overseas, thus opening up a large and lucrative market on your doorstep, your challenge, as ever, is how to reach it. 

A good place to start is your regional or area tourist board – Visit England/Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland will have data on where visitors to the region originate. Many will also have campaigns designed to attract visitors that you can piggyback on. 

The North West is the most popular destination year round, but every area has attractions and resources that will bring people to you – the challenge is finding them in a timely manner.

Think about what attracts people to your area – is it a theme park, special event, scenery, or a pastime, such as walking, cycling or fishing? Tap into this market through either advertising in related media or through their recreation’s association. Building a communications plan is key – and worth a little thought at the outset. Will the marketing be affordable and reasonably expected to be cost effective? These are the questions that preface any successful campaign.

The next step is deciding how you can maximise your offering. Creating a half board package may well be the answer, particularly if it includes a discounted rate on your menu prices. This package, however, may work against you in an area where people travel to enjoy local cuisine and there are plenty of restaurants. A good example of this is Robert Nadler, founder of the London Hotel Group, who marketed only a simple bed and breakfast offer while allowing local restaurants to promote within his hotel and offering room service by Deliveroo.

Reaching your market has never been easier or more cost effective. In this digital age, mining your past reservations and reaching out to past clients is simple and cost effective. Returners’ discounts and early bird offers are popular, but perhaps best of all people are searching the internet for inspiration, so key words and reference to the local attractions that people will be searching for, pay dividends.

One final tip: your clients are more demanding than ever, and small details matter, so don’t compromise on any aspect of your operation. It’s always wise to choose supply partners you can rely on and trust. During the busier summer period P&G Professional is on hand to help venues impress guests. Products are formulated to provide an outstanding clean even with one wash, short cycles and low water temperatures, without compromising on results. This helps businesses to save energy, helping them on their journey to become more sustainable. 

Little details all add up to create a great guest experience. P&G Professional has also launched a new range of Lenor Professional in four new scents. At a time where businesses look to tighten purse strings, the range provides a 5-star guest experience for less than 4p per wash*. Hospitality and food service businesses can lower laundry costs without sacrificing excellent service and provide guests with a memorable experience. Lenor Professional’s new range contains innovative technologies to condition table linens, sheets and pillows with plant-based softening micro-fibres, to protect from wear and tear and make them longer lasting. 

Even in tough times, the industry can always rely on the fact that consumers seek out things that bring them joy in times of economic downturn. The road ahead is uncertain but hotels and B&Bs that are willing to utilise the tools available to them and piggyback onto trends will reap the rewards. 

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