With time, money and environmental factors all impacting consumer behaviour, we’re seeing the continuation and strengthening of some existing trends from the last few years, along with one predictable spike, which may or may not be a long-term fixture of the market.
The most obvious of the continuing trends is the high popularity of glamping holidays. Their ability to provide special travel experiences, at short notice, with minimal travel has cemented their place in people’s thinking. While the market has settled after the Covid boom, it’s still considerably up on 2019. In 2021, our total stays increased 66.7% YOY and although demand standardised a little in 2022 we're seeing that level maintained into 2023 and forecasting for 2024 remains strong, despite a drop off in overall UK domestic holidays this year.
Length of stay vs nightly rates
A shift towards shorter stays, observed over the last couple of years, has also slightly intensified, but is being balanced, in terms of owner revenue, by an increase in the average nightly rate. Average booking value saw a steep increase of 17.16% in 2021 and total stay value is now steadily rising at 3.5% YOY. This means that while it previously made sense for owners to push to longer stays using booking rules, there is now greater value in flexibility, with owners able to compensate for shorter stays with acceptable price increases.
Stand out, at any cost
With competition getting ever fiercer, it’s important for glamping places to stand out from the crowd, but this doesn’t have to mean being luxurious, or spending vast amounts on upgrades. What we see in our own data is a polarising of the audience, who are either budget options when they simply need a break, or the highest-value spaces for special occasions. Our budget collections are now outperforming some of our luxury and treehouse groups and average bookings per place for the category of £100 a night or less has risen 45% in the last year. However, our most popular spaces remain some of our most expensive, with advanced bookings for the top tier almost full for 2024. Guests are either looking for a spectacular break and are willing to pay premuim rates for it, or they want something more affordable that still provides connection to nature and a moment of peace. It’s not important which category a place sits in, only that it provides the best experience possible within the one it chooses.
The key is to provide value and originality. Discretionary spend on travel is still prioritised above other areas. The concept of “revenge travel” (people striving to get back the time they lost to Covid), has driven an increase in shorter holidays, but guests are looking to be inspired. An offering that not only gives guests the sense of their money being well spent, but also looks good on camera, will strike the right chord with travellers of any age.
Timing of bookings
Lead times in travel always vary throughout the year, but glamping sites, as with their broad demographic appeal, straddle several boundaries. Our main booking window is 60-90 days ahead of stay, with a slightly longer lead time for summer bookings and major holiday periods such as Christmas. There are also places which book a year in advance due to their immense popularity. The most interesting development, however, is the increase in last-minute bookings, those made within 30 days of the stay, which now constitute 30% of our total. This has risen considerably in recent years, going from an occasional opportunity to a full-time consideration and something which we as a business and owners of glamping sites need to be responsive too.
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