//Holiday Habits: The changing trends of British holidaymakers

Holiday Habits: The changing trends of British holidaymakers

Solo holidays, cash consciousness and younger cruise passengers were among some of the key talking points in ABTA’s Holiday Habits Report 2018

The Holiday Habits Report, which looks at the changing trends of British holidaymakers, says the number of holidays being taken has remained stable. Overall, 86 per cent of respondents took a holiday either at home or abroad in the 12 months to August 2018. The number of holidays taken has fallen from 3.8 to 3.4 per person – the same as in 2016, but down on last year. This decrease is being driven by two main factors: people taking fewer UK breaks, and people taking fewer shorter breaks, at home and abroad or both.

The number of short UK breaks fell from 1.3 per person to 1.1 per person, with people instead choosing to take longer foreign holidays. The average person took 1.0 foreign holidays of seven nights or longer, an increase from 0.9 in 2017 and 0.7 in 2016. However, the pound’s performance against the euro meant that holidaymakers were more acutely aware of the price of their holiday. Value for money was a priority for 60 per cent of people booking a package holiday.

“Despite pressures on household incomes, Britons are clearly wedded to their holidays, with travel a spending priority. Holidaymakers are becoming increasingly cost-conscious, seeking value for money and budgeting more wisely in their holiday choices,” Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said.

“We’re at a unique juncture in the UK’s history as the nation counts down to leaving the EU, so naturally more people’s thoughts turn to what Brexit means for travel. People understandably have questions and concerns about what impact Brexit may have on the cost of travel, but it is very encouraging that Europe tops the bill as the place they wish to visit next year, and holiday bookings more widely are looking positive for the year ahead.”

The Holiday Habits Report also found that the number of people choosing to travel solo had increased by threefold since 2011. Now, almost one in six people, 15 per cent, choose to travel on their own, compared to 12 per cent in 2017 and 6 per cent in 2011.

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The main reason behind the increase in solo travel is that it gave individuals the opportunity to do what they want while on holiday, with 76 per cent citing it as the main reason to go away, up 3 per cent on 2017. According to ABTA’s findings, the rise of technology – including smartphones with GPS capability – has meant travelling alone is a lot less daunting than it was in the past. This has not meant that those travelling on their own stick to well-known routes, however. Solo travellers are twice as likely to holiday in Antarctica than those travelling with friends or family.

“There has been significant growth in the number of people travelling by themselves over the last few years, with the majority choosing to holiday solo so that they can do what they want,” Tanzer added. “Going on holiday by yourself means you don’t have to compromise on your choice of destination, your itinerary or the activities you take part in. Whether they’re single or just want some ‘me time’, people now have an incredible choice of holidays and destinations to choose from and it has become so much easier to explore the world. Travel companies have responded to demand by offering a diverse range of options for people booking by themselves.” 

The most popular types of holiday taken were a city break (48 per cent), followed by a beach holiday (40 per cent). Countryside break (21 per cent), sightseeing trip (15 per cent) and an all-inclusive holiday (15 per cent) followed. The cruise market is another sector that threw up some surprising results.

According to ABTA’s data, 12 per cent of 18-34 year-olds are looking to take a cruise in the next 12 months, compared to 11 per cent of 18-24 year olds in 2017. Interestingly, the number of young people who are open to the idea of taking a cruise has increased by 3 per cent to 53 per cent. Of the overall market, 58 per cent of people are interested in taking a cruise.

“The cruise industry is adapting to the changing demographics and demands of holidaymakers,” said Victoria Bacon, ABTA director of brand and business development. “Young people are showing a significant interest in cruise holidays and companies are investing in tech upgrades to appeal to this next generation of holidaymakers, with many capitalising on new technology and fast wi-fi across their fleets.

“On-board preferences are changing too, with the quality of food and drink now the number one priority, and many companies are reflecting this by offering menus curated by Michelin-star chefs and wider ranges of cuisine to cater to evolving tastes.”

When it came to looking ahead, ABTA said that holidays would remain a spending priority despite the political uncertainty that would come after Brexit. More than half, 51 per cent, said that they would spend the same on their holiday. However, fewer people are planning on spending more next year than they did this year – 25 per cent compared to 31 per cent in 2017.

The overall picture suggests people are being more cost conscious in the face of uncertainty, but they are clearly still very committed to taking holidays, both at home and abroad.