Stay at home holidays in the UK
Just a few short years ago, our holidays were booked in a travel agents and if we wanted to stay in this country in a holiday cottage we picked out a little ad in the back of Country Life or Homes & Gardens and hoped that the cottage lived up to expectations when we arrived.
But times have changed. I’ve written a little blog about the increase in demand for luxury holiday cottages in the UK and what I am doing to attract people to mine in Suffolk.
We have always had the holiday park of course, which is where I first gained experience in the UK holiday market many moons ago. The main thing I learnt is that I didn’t want to be in this market. Nothing wrong with it; it just isn’t for me. There are also city breaks with some superb hotels in many fine cities around the UK, but this again is a very specific break at the other end of the scale.
The holiday cottage alternative
What we have seen is a growing demand for a more homely stay whilst exploring the countryside. Added to which we have, quite naturally, insisted upon certain standards and we appreciate subtle touches that make our experience so much better.
I have nothing against foreign holidays. Nothing at all. But what I promote and am passionate about is the option of staying here in the UK, in luxury and in particular, in the beautiful county I have called home for the last decade or so.
Luxury self-catering holidays right here in Suffolk
The old ‘Acres of diamonds’ fables (there are so many now!) tell of finding riches at home without having to search far flung lands. That’s how I feel about holidays in the UK and especially Suffolk. There are lots of holiday cottages around now, some very good, some bad and it’s simply my hope that more and more people choose to come and stay in mine, return and also tell their friends. I do this by doing my utmost to ensure that the quality of accommodation is first class, that guests are treated as valued guests (which is what they are) and by ensuring I do everything in my power to make their stay a memorable one for all the right reasons. It’s a pretty straightforward concept but then I’m a pretty simple bloke.
This is exactly why I chose to develop quality holiday cottages here. My market is for the discerning tourist who wants a change from the norm but doesn’t want to compromise on the quality of their accommodation.
Striking Gold for my holiday cottages
In 2014 we were awarded the Enjoy England Gold Award for all seven of our holiday cottages. The inspections were carried out by the official body, Quality in Tourism and they have very stringent guidelines, which we passed with flying colours. They have just released some very interesting statistics on the ‘staycation’ in their internal magazine and I’d like to share some of this with you if you’re interested.
In the five year period since 2008, we have cut back on our foreign holidays, taking 13% more holidays at home and 17% less abroad. As the economy strengthens, research has also shown that this trend won’t dip as people will take an overseas holiday as an added extra. I had some research carried out from East of England Tourism when I was setting up my business that pointed exactly at this. Even when times are hard, people still value their breaks, their escape from normal life. In the five years since I have been welcoming guests here, I have seen this week in, week out.
Two groups that are a sizeable chunk of my market are the over 55s and the more affluent, with the former taking 31% more domestic holidays since 2006 and the latter being up 29%, so pretty much all taking a third more holidays at home, 17% of which have been short breaks. As I write I realise I am only five years away from being in the former group!
It’s all very well me saying that we have luxury holiday cottages to entice people in but as I started this blog talking about the old school way of advertising breaks in the UK, it’s scary to think how far we have come as an industry, which goes for many of course. The daily assumption that everything is now online has never been more so and as such our buying habits are almost subliminal. This is great news for us for two reasons:
1 – We have a website with great photos and a Google virtual tour, as well as all our prices and availability. We are right in the middle of re-designing our site though to make it even easier to find everything you need. Literally yesterday I had Carl Lamb of Ambient Light back over to shoot loads more photos. Carl was responsible for our amazing virtual tour and some stills already on our site. This really enables people to get a true feel for what a place is like before they go and it’s certainly very true here. Here’s a lovely photo he took of the kitchen in Woodfarm House.
2 – There are a number of great tools such as Tripadvisor, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest etc that help us enormously because people can easily share their great experiences with their peers. Perhaps the best example in our industry is Tripadvisor and 2014 saw us being awarded their Certificate of Excellence for our consistent Five Star reviews. I’m very proud of this and work diligently all the time to keep this up.
In addition to working hard to spread the word about my holiday cottages and making sure they deliver what my guests want, I spend my time working with local partners to complete the experience. To this end we developed a new website last year called ‘Where Do We?..’ – it’s a tourist guide to all the best that Suffolk has to offer, ie “Where do we eat & drink?”, “Where do we take the dog?”, “Where do we see the sea?” etc. I set it up as a guide for my guests but of course it’s there for the world to see. Forgive me if the section on “Where do we stay?” only promotes Woodfarm!
Anyway, enough from me, I’m happy to bore you on an individual basis if you want to ring for a chat about any of this, or better still, why not come and stay and see for yourself what it’s all about?
01449 710032 or 07810 371218