Travel trend review: what does it mean for hospitality?

Tuesday 14 August 2018 by Kayleigh Little Research exploring statistics from notable industry reports to predict the top travel trends for 2018.


Domestic travel

In 2017, 72% of Brits enjoyed a UK break, which meant an impressive year for British tourism[1]. A Visit Britain survey looking at 2017 travel trends found that British residents took in total 100.6 million overnight trips in England which resulted in 299 million nights away from home and £19 billion in expenditure[2]. The average time away for travellers in 2017 was only three nights[3], indicating the length of domestic holiday trips by UK residents is declining whilst the number of trips taking is rapidly increasing – think more frequent, shorter stays.

Data from 2017 suggests that due to the effects of Brexit, consumers are willing to swap their overseas short breaks for  staycations[4], which presents great opportunities for the domestic market. August 2017 was the most popular month for Brits partaking in domestic travel – 12% of all domestic trips were taken in this month in comparison with January and February which only saw 5%[5].

City breaks are the preferred holiday type in 2017, with over half the population taking a city break last year according to ABTA research[6]. This is a great thing for British hospitality and the industry can certainly take advantage of this by expanding their product range in major UK cities.

Densely populated cities such as London, Edinburgh and Liverpool are predicted to see a decline in visitors this year whereas heritage cities such as York, Bath and Chester are  likely to see an increase in UK visitors[7]. According to the British Tourism and Travel Show’s 2017 BTTW ‘Domestic Tourism’ Industry Snapshot, an increase in staycations, more last minute bookings and a greater focus on experiential holidays and short breaks are the key trends to look out for in 2018[8].



And why are we loving the UK?[9]

  • Scenery and Landscape
  • Price of the holiday
  • Mode of transport
  • Distance from home
  • Safety
  • Visited before


Inbound travel

For 2018, inbound trips across the UK are expected to grow to 41.7 million visits, the highest since records began and a massive jump from 39.9 million in 2017[10]. This is again due to the impact of Brexit and the ongoing value of the pound, which remains a key source of uncertainty and  has potentially encouraged a record increase of overseas visitors to the UK. In July 2017, Britain saw four million visits from non-UK residents - an increase of 6% on July 2016[11], and this figure is expected to expand again in 2018. UK hospitality brands need to cater for this influx of overseas visitors, whether that’s a more tailored experience or an increase in languages spoken across businesses.


Where are people staying?

In 2017,  visits to large towns and cities made up  42% of all trips taken in England, with the South West coming out top as most visited with 20% of trips, followed closely by the South East at 16%[12]. Interestingly, 43% of trips taken across England were spent in commercial serviced accommodation whilst 36% were spent in hotels or motels[13]. ABTA found that, in 2017, most holidays taken were city breaks – these made up 53% of trips. They were followed closely by beach holidays at 41% whilst trip types such as cruises, an activity holiday, a coach holiday and a trip to see a music event all sat below 10%[14].

Group staycations are certainly on the rise as indicated by bookings for groups of six or more people, which jumped from 14% in 2017 to an impressive 48% in 2018 so far[15] - placing further need for bigger, more spacious accommodation with multiple bedrooms. This is great news for serviced apartments, as groups also want facilities such as washing machines and fully-equipped kitchens that allow for a more independent stay.

When it comes to deciding where to stay, online influences are expected to be the reason for 63% of bookings so far this year, compared with only 52% in 2017. Zine discovered that Instagram dominates all other social media platforms in terms of which site influencers prefer to use for advertising, as in their survey it won almost 80% of the votes[16]. Sat at the bottom are the likes of Pinterest with only 1% and Facebook which only wins 2%.

Review sites are unsurprisingly also a large decision-making factor - 56% of people going on staycations in 2018 said they use review sites when choosing somewhere to stay, compared to only 50% in 2017[17]. In fact, all statements about review sites have a significantly higher percentage of agreement in 2018 compared to the previous year: I trust online reviews to be accurate; comments are more useful than ratings; I will change a decision after reading a negative review; and I take more notice of reviews than star ratings[18].


Market leaders

According to a 2018 Mintel report, usage of Airbnb is still relatively low for domestic trips[19], only growing from 2% to 5% between 2014 and 2017[20]. This varies, however, between age types as usage of Airbnb for 25-34 year-olds jumps to 11% and is expected to rise to 19% during 2018[21], indicating this is the age group most likely to opt for a place to stay when travelling which feels like ‘home away from home’ rather than a hotel.

Marriott has attempted to directly compete with the serviced apartment industry by offering guests similar amenities, such as fast Wi-Fi, family items on request, laundry facilities and self-catering kitchens[22]. The brand has also revealed plans to introduce Amazon Echo devices in some US hotel rooms which will allow guests to order room service and communicate with concierge and housekeeping services. This is significant, as a large number of consumers agreed they would prefer to stay in high-tech rooms with the latest gadgets[23] - something that the serviced apartment sector could look at implementing.

Un-hotels inspired by the likes of Airbnb are a growing trend which is forecasted to be even bigger during 2018; hotels are attempting to compete directly with serviced apartments by introducing their own unique properties with separate rooms across various locations[24]. Currently, this trend is mostly being seen outside of the UK, e.g. Sweets Hotel has launched 28 different rooms in and around the vibrant city of Amsterdam – however this trend is expected to reach the UK soon with hotel companies like The Marriott following suit with their concept rooms styled after communal apartments[25].


Business travel

Business travellers in 2018 are actively seeking accommodation with communal areas stocked with cutting-edge technology such as HD video conference and multimedia presentation equipment[26] to ensure their stay is as efficient as possible. This will also help business travellers to truly feel as if that have a ‘home away from home’ because they have the ability to work or relax without having to leave the property. 

As a result of Brexit uncertainty and the weak pound, businesses have made a significant cutback in 2017 on overseas travel[27], suggesting that in 2018 they will alternatively opt for domestic travel instead. Mintel forecasts that the number of overseas business trips will drop by 2.8% between 2018 and 2023 as the business travel market is much more sensitive to macro-economic factors than the consumer holiday market[28].

Generally speaking, the age group most likely to travel for business is 25-34 year-olds as they account for 31% of all UK business travellers and 28% of all overseas business travellers[29]. This is because employees in this age range are at a time in their career where they’re beginning to take on more responsibility which often translates into more frequent business travel. It is therefore important for the hospitality industry to cater to this guest type, offering the latest high tech gadgets and appropriate amenities.


Top 10 UK destinations Britons are intending to visit in 2018 according to BDRC[30]

  1. Scottish Highlands – 12%
  2. Lake District – 9%
  3. Cornwall – 8%
  4. North Wales – 8%
  5. London – 7%
  6. Devon – 7%
  7. Scottish Lowlands – 7%
  8. South Wales – 6%
  9. Dorset – 6%
  10. Edinburgh – 5%




[1] ABTA – Holiday Habits report 2017

[2] Visit Britain – GB Tourism Survey (domestic overnight tourism): Latest results

[3] Visit Britain – GB Tourism Survey (domestic overnight tourism): Latest results

[4] Mintel – Domestic Tourism – UK – October 2017

[5] Visit Britain – England Domestic Overnight Trips Summary – All Trip Purposes - 2017

[6] ABTA – Travel Trends Report 2018

[7] BDRC – Holiday Trends 2018

[8] Diversified Communications UK – National survey reveals further growth in domestic tourism and travel  - 3rd March 2017

[9] BDRC – Holiday Trends 2018

[10] Visit Britain – Tourists to UK forecast to spend record level in 2018

[11] The Guardian – UK draws record overseas tourists after pound’s Brexit plunge – 22nd September 2017

[12] Visit Britain – England Domestic Overnight Trips Summary – All Trip Purposes - 2017

[13] Visit Britain – England Domestic Overnight Trips Summary – All Trip Purposes - 2017

[14] ABTA – Holiday Habits report 2017

[15] Snap Trip – 2018 UK Travel Trend Report

[16] Zine – Influencer Marketing: Science, Strategy & Success – 25th January 2017

[17] BDRC – Holiday Trends 2018

[18] BDRC – Holiday Trends 2018

[19] Mintel – Marriott partners with Hostmaker to challenge Airbnb’s homesharing model – 4th May 2018.

[20] Mintel – Hotels – UK - November 2017.

[21] Mintel – Hotels – UK - November 2017.

[22] Mintel – Marriott partners with Hostmaker to challenge Airbnb’s homesharing model – 4th May 2018.

[23] Mintel – Hotels – UK – November 2016

[24] Condé Nast Traveller – July/August 2018

[25] Mintel – Marriott partners with Hostmaker to challenge Airbnb’s homesharing model – 4th May 2018.

[26] Trivago Business Blog – The Top Hotel Technology Trends to Follow in 2018 – 12th July 2018

[27] Mintel – Business Traveller – UK – July 2018

[28] Mintel – Business Traveller – UK – July 2018

[29] Mintel – Business Traveller – UK – July 2018

[30] BDRC – Holiday Trends 2018

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