How Can International Destinations Attract UK Travellers in 2024?
Earlier this year, I wrote an article about how booking patterns have changed in the UK and how January to March could no longer be seen as the key booking period.
This was certainly true for 2023, as most of the reports I have seen indicate a strong percentage of bookings were made with a very small window between booking and travelling.
There are many reasons why this has happened:
- Covid: When people could travel again, there was a lot of uncertainty about where they would be able to go and what the regulations would be, so people booked later than usual.
- The war in Ukraine created uncertainty and nervousness for people booking.
- The cost of living crisis: Partially an impact of the war in Ukraine and rising energy costs, but also the knock-on effects of Covid and Brexit, with rising costs across supply chains.
- The increasing impact of the climate emergency, particularly with the extreme temperatures experienced in some destinations, which put travellers off.
- Value of the £: People wanted to see where they would be able to get the best value for their £, which hasn’t always been easy with the continued political unrest in the UK.
Looking ahead to 2024, despite all of these reasons, there will no doubt be an increased desire to travel, especially for those who have been put off over the last few years.
But where will they go, and when will they book?
Previous studies have shown that historically people have gone to the same destinations. In fact, 80% of tourists visit just 10% of the world’s tourism destinations.
Maybe it is because I work in the industry, but with all the amazing places in the world to experience, I find it impossible to understand this is still the case. It’s no wonder that many key destinations suffer from the impacts of overtourism.
The British traveller's approach, the opportunity:
One positive note is that in a recent survey by YouGov, 62% of British tourists stated that they feel more comfortable travelling to destinations they know less about. So this means that there is a significant opportunity for lesser-known destinations to capitalise on this openness to travel to new places.
Some areas to consider when trying to attract audiences next year are:
- Conscious travel is high on the agenda, especially in the luxury market, where people will be looking to stay in eco-luxury accommodation or align with travel brands that support local communities and protect the planet. Interestingly, outside of the luxury market, it’s not that people don’t want to make the right choices, but travellers think they have to make a choice between sustainability and spending. There is a belief that sustainable travel options are more expensive and beyond the reach of many, with rising costs being at the forefront of many people’s minds. If you can show people a better way to experience your destination, doing things the right way, this will be a huge opportunity.
- Booking periods. As previously mentioned, travellers have been used to short-term bookings, and I believe there will be a slight shift in this in 2024. I think there will be two distinctive booking periods; the late booking period will remain and there will be plenty of late bookings, particularly in the family market. However, I do think that there will be a larger % of people wanting to book early and this will be in luxury travel, (those who want to guarantee an experience), and then the cost-sensitive traveller, who is looking for something special and can be incentivised to book early.
- Easy onboarding is something that can really help destinations outside of the regular 10% of the world's destinations that people visit most. People’s resistance to go to new destinations is often about the process they have to go through to be able to visit. Whilst I appreciate that it may not be easy to change government policies on entry, there is a lot of choice, so make it easy for people to be able to visit you. Provide as much information and assistance as possible and remove barriers where they can be removed.
I am looking forward to my annual adventure to World Travel Market in London in November to see industry colleagues new and old. With almost 30 years’ of experience, at Navigate we are experts at reaching British audiences and inspiring them to travel.
So, if your destination is looking to attract more British travellers, let me know, and we can book a time to meet at WTM or arrange a video call.
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Simon Jones, Managing Director
Simon co-founded Navigate to help tourism and travel businesses enhance their digital marketing and attract wider audiences locally and internationally. With 30+ years of operational experience in the industry, he's led strategic marketing on both client and agency sides. Simon is one the most experienced marketing leaders in the sector, having worked with hundreds of brands to increase revenue, grow audiences and build brands. He uses his vast industry knowledge and client experience to allow Navigate to deliver the best for its clients.