As Ireland continues on its reopening journey, B&A looks at the challenges and opportunities faced by key sectors in the economy. This week it examines the staycation market and offers some key insights for the various stakeholders.
Shaping Ireland’s Future Report 3:
Domestic holiday experience
As millions of us opt for a staycation rather than risk the uncertainty of foreign travel, we look at what is being experienced on the ground, and the implications for this sector.
74% had holiday plans disrupted by Covid-19
49% postponed a holiday
31% switched to an Irish holiday
Opportunity 1: New map of Ireland
It seems our collective impulse has been to head West, linked to the idea of connecting with nature and finding empty landscapes.
- The West of Ireland has experienced a surge of domestic visitors in recent weeks. In fact, many of us have targeted the same hot spots.
- At the same time our big cities can feel a little less busy.
There is an opportunity to market Ireland with a domestic ‘green list’ that fits our Covid influenced sensitivities:
➡ Safer cities with less tourists
➡ Under utilised regions (Hidden Heartlands?)
Opportunity 2: Upgrade pathways
While many of us are seeking a domestic alternative for our 2020 summer holiday, there can be a nagging sense of ‘unfinished business’ from the holiday that ‘could have been’.
There is an opportunity to provide upgraded opportunities at multiple points in the domestic holiday experience to tap into this desire whether it is:
➡ Holiday shopping ➡ Boosted meals, nicer wine, pricier choice of entrée ➡ Special activities/indulgences
Opportunity 3: Post lockdown needs
Lockdown brought a range of impacts over an extended period which fuel holiday needs in specific ways, for example:
- Parents juggled much more than usual: press ganged into more responsibilities, with fewer supports.
- Children connected with their siblings but missed out on peer group interactions.
- We were immersed in technology but yearned for a simpler/safer world.
We should target these needs by segmenting differently:
➡ Short breaks with girlfriends and no kids
➡ Premium pampering (no responsibilities)
➡ Kids activities with no parents
➡ Low tech as virtue (no wifi, no electricity)
Opportunity 4: Confidence touchpoints
Many aspects of domestic holiday choices demonstrate a strong desire for certainty and familiarity.
- The impulse to explore and discover has been ‘dampened down’.
- At the root of this is fear of catching Covid-19. So we want to know what to expect.
- Some domestic visitors report unnerving variations in social distancing procedures when they go to restaurants and shops when on holiday.
There is a need to reassure visitors at multiple touchpoints prior to a visit and during a visit
at accommodation and other hospitality service providers:
➡ Check-in procedure communicated in advance
➡ Notification about requirement to book all meals
➡ Adherence to regime by all staff.
Opportunity 5: Safe Spontaneity
Part of the fun of a short break in Ireland is to jump in the car and head for the hills on impulse, but we can’t do this to the same extent anymore. More planning is required, and we have to plan during the holiday.
- We have to book breakfast, not just lie in and turn up.
- If we have a meal in the hotel, we can’t just roll into the bar for a drink afterwards
There is a need to provide more intuitive ‘on the fly’ opportunities for spontaneity, in a safe way, before and during a domestic holiday:
➡ This might work through a shared app to help manage an itinerary
➡ Or a more direct intervention from accommodation staff as ‘gate keepers’ for a region.
Opportunities for all 5 key areas
Ways to win
- As the country begins to open again, many are opting for a holiday (or holidays) in Ireland.
- Those who have already taken a holiday in Ireland offer positive feedback on the hospitality sector, but more can be done to boost confidence and reach out to the 49% of the public who say they will wait until later or next year before they take a holiday.
- As bottlenecks begin to form in popular locations on the West coast, there is a need to reposition other regions and cities with our own ‘green list’.
- There are opportunities to tap into latent holiday aspirations to do ‘something special’ and ‘treat’ ourselves.
- Or conversely to ‘get back to nature’ with much more pared back alternatives.
- There is a continuing need to build confidence in Covid-19 certification and procedures not just at initial point of contact but throughout a domestic trip.
- In this evolving situation, accommodation providers have a particularly important role as gatekeepers to safe regional experiences.
For more information and reports published by B&A visit www.banda.ie