Many people supplement their holidays abroad with a short UK break or two and if agents can offer fresh ideas for domestic holidays they can tap into a whole new revenue stream.

“Selling a UK short break provides an additional revenue stream which can be profitable as the UK is not often discounted”

GARY GILLESPIE, HEAD OF TRADE SALES, SUPER BREAK

Home comforts

I’m hauling this bucket of ‘nuts’ across the farm and I can already hear the bleating of hungry ewes and their newborn lambs - it’s almost deafening! I’ve not even entered the barn before silence ensues and bulging eyes are following my every move. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a presence!

It’s lambing season, the busiest time of the year in the Yorkshire Dales, and I’m attempting to help out whilst the farmer attends to his pregnant ewes. I’ve just about survived feeding time when he calls: “You’ve got small hands haven’t you lass? I might need a hand with this one”… I convince myself he’s joking but thankfully I’m too deep in a sea of wool to be considered useful!

Being able to transport myself to this haven of rolling hills and fresh air is like a form of therapy for me. The tiny village of Askrigg, where I’ve taken refuge in a cosy cottage, consists only of the necessities (a shop and three pubs), and yet I couldn’t be more content. And it seems I’m not the only one, the Dales was among the top five regions for UK bookings in 2018, dubbed the year of the ‘staycation’, and it looks set to remain that way.

Close means comfort

According to research from Sykes Cottages, two-thirds (66%) of Brits enjoyed a UK break last year, up from 56% in 2017. These rising figures will continue into 2019 as 50% plan to spend their main summer break here.

Jane Atkins, Managing Director at Shearings Holidays says: “Demand for holidaying in the UK has been high this year. The timing of the warm Easter was fantastic in encouraging customers to firm up the UK summer holiday plans.

She adds: “Many customers don’t realise that they can book UK breaks through their local travel agent so this is often incremental commission.”

Similarly, Gary Gillespie, Head of Trade Sales at SuperBreak, encourages agents to make the most out of existing customers as each will take an average of three UK breaks a year!

“For many agents, selling a UK short break provides an additional revenue stream which can be profitable as the UK is not often discounted.

“Many customers who book their cruise, summer sun or long haul holidays will also take a few UK breaks a year. It is up to the agents to talk to their existing customers about what plans they have alongside their main holiday. It can be a great way to boost earnings”, adds Gillespie.

Coasting along

When the weather warms up, there’s nothing more appealing than a trip to the seaside, which is why Cornwall’s clear waters and sandy beaches are a popular draw for British holidaymakers.

In fact, the South West of England topped the list for bookings in 2018, with seven out of the 10 most popular locations close to the sea. The coastal resorts of Llandudno, Eastbourne, Torquay and Bournemouth are all top summer sellers for SuperBreak while Whitstable remains a favourite for those looking to sample local English wines and fresh oysters.

With families among the most popular clientele for a seaside holiday, operator Bourne Leisure has invested in its coastal resorts for 2019. Last month Butlin’s officially opened its new £40m pool facility in its Bognor Regis Resort, thought be one of the largest UK coastal investments in 2019. Haven is also fulfilling its £100 million vision of future investment with extensive developments at five of its coastal parks.

Meanwhile, according to Hoseasons, luxury properties have seen a 39% growth since 2017, with glamping and seafront studios proving popular with millennials. “Younger travellers should be a focus when it comes to selling the UK,” says Sally Henry, Sales Director at Hoseasons. “Recent research suggests that millennials are increasingly open to the idea of going on a staycation, so there’s a real opportunity for tech-savvy agents to invest in the right marketing channels, including social media, to attract a new generation of customers.”

Sell it: Super Break offers a stay at the four-star Grand Hotel in Torquay priced from £62 per person, per night on a B&B basis in early September.

Escape to the country

A retreat to the countryside isn’t only reserved for those looking for an active walking holiday, it can be enjoyed just as much via a scenic rail journey or sold to those that just want to cosy up next to the fire in the colder months. The hot tub appeal or ‘Bubble breaks’ as they’re known, are proving popular autumn/winter sellers, with agency sales up 21% compared to 2018.

Opening in July 2019 is Ullswater Heights in Cumbria, part of Hoseasons’ Evermore Lodge Holidays Collection. The accommodation offers views across the Lake District and is priced from £308 for a three-night stay for four.

“We’re continuing to see strong demand for higher-end accommodation, with a 20% year-on-year hike for lodges with features such as a hot tub and fireplace,” says Sally Henry, Hoeseasons. “The couple planning their honeymoon in Bali may be open to the idea of a relaxing post-wedding mini-moon just a few hours from home. Similarly, a weekend away in the Cotswolds with the grandchildren might be a good suggestion for the customers who are counting down to the cruise they’ve just booked.”

Luxury rail travel is also on the up, Arena Rail Holidays has added several new UK itineraries for 2019 including a five-day summer break to the Cotswolds and the Avon Valley. The tour journeys on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway through sleepy hamlets and the Malvern Hills. It even serves cream tea onboard... is there anything more British?

Sell it: The Great West Way has added a ‘Royal Journey’ to its portfolio of rail holidays, including visits to Windsor Castle and Eton.