New research from The Cumberland Building Society says that 86% of UK holiday accommodation owners report that they have invested in their business during the pandemic, with 94% saying they have made long-lasting, positive changes.
The survey of 1,021 UK consumers and 233 UK accommodation owners/managers also highlighted that four-fifths of holiday accommodation owners questioned (80%) said that they had been spending money on being compliant with Covid-19 guidelines, while 71% have been improving their property or services.
And despite relaxations in foreign travel restrictions, the research suggests there is still caution amongst UK holidaymakers, with 84% opting to holiday in the UK this summer. Of these, the survey also revealed that hotels (38%) and cottages (32%) are the most popular types of accommodation, followed by bed and breakfast accommodation (24%).
However, Covid-19 compliance and cleanliness is still dominating their choice of accommodation providers, as 69% say they are willing to pay more for hotels, B&Bs and holiday lets offering these additional services: 38% of respondents said they would pay more for a property which has a Covid-19 deep cleaning service, while 31% would pay more for a property with clear instructions on its COVID-19 guidance. And 16% of Brits say they would pay more if their accommodation was dog-friendly.
The findings also show that Cornwall is the favourite UK destination (17%) with the Lake District proving as popular as Devon (14% each), followed closely by Scotland (13%), Wales (11%) and East Anglia (9%). However, 32% of consumers indicated they are not planning a holiday this year.
When it comes to business funding during the pandemic, 52% of respondents funded their investment in their business from savings/ equity contribution; 41% from a business loan; 26% from insurance; 21% from external equity; 17% from CBILS or BBLS loans and 15% from remortgage. Additionally, 75% said they were definitely going to or are considering using the Government Recovery Loan Scheme, which could indicate that this hasn’t been a necessity for many, as it was only introduced in April.
The respondents were asked about investing in their businesses over the three years 2020-2022 inclusive and from the findings, the consistent turnover figure cited by owner-managers as having invested or planning on investing in their properties is 11-20% of turnover.
Overall, 94% of those questioned have made a long-lasting positive change to their business as a result of the pandemic. Of this, 55% of respondents said that renovations were the main long-lasting positive changes the pandemic has led them to make to their business. This is followed by process improvements (46%); introducing new services (45%) and new IT systems (34%).
Regarding the booking patterns amongst UK consumers, 36% of respondents say they would book UK holidays between less than one month ahead and three months ahead of time, while only 6% said they would plan to book 10-12 months ahead. 26% said they would not plan to book a UK holiday whilst in the current COVID circumstance. 56% of respondents cited concerns about cancellations due to the impact of new strains of the virus as their biggest concern for the 2021 summer season, while 31% of accommodation owners said that they were concerned about customers ‘double-booking’ holidays and then cancelling with them at the last minute.