Staycation’ was undoubtedly the travel buzzword of 2020. With travel restrictions limiting people jetting off to far-flung destinations this year, Brits looked to explore what was on their very own doorstep more so than ever before. 

IHG Hotels & Resorts, which has more than 360 hotels in the UK & Ireland with brands including Holiday Inn, voco Hotels, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites and Kimpton, reveals new data about how British travellers chose to spend the last few months.

Karan Khanna, Managing Director UK & I, IHG Hotels & Resorts commented on the findings: “We’ve seen that people’s appetite to travel and explore hasn’t changed, but understandably their confidence in when it’s safe to do so has. Cleanliness and flexibility are top of mind for everyone now, and by introducing enhanced cleaning measures and offering more flexibility, consumers have continued to travel this summer, with many opting for a staycation in the UK.”

Spontaneity is key – With so much uncertainty and regularly changing travel restrictions, hotel booking lead times have shortened compared to previous years. 69% of bookings are happening within 7 days of stay, compared to 46% during the same period last year. IHG Hotels & Resorts introduced flexible booking options such as Book Now, Pay Later to give travellers enhanced peace of mind and the flexibility they need.

 Booking window  2020   2019
 0-2 days  38%  23%
 3 -7 days  31%  23%
 8-90 days  31%  50%

Home is where the heart is – despite some borders opening for European travel over the summer, most people chose to stay close to home with 95% of UK bookings being made for domestic stays, which is higher than previous years. (Based on UK IHG Rewards Club member bookings during June – August 2020). More than 85% of guests also chose to travel to their destination by car, and 9% opted for public transport.

The ruralisation of travel – IHG hotel bookings during summer 2020 saw rural locations rise to the top with areas such as Kent, Hampshire & Isle of Wight, East & North Yorkshire entering the list of the Top 10 most visited UK locations, while big cities dropped down the list.

According to Karan Khanna, Managing Director UK&I at IHG Hotels & Resorts: “There’s been a reawakening in appreciating small-town life, our families, quiet communities, reconnecting with nature and unplugging from technology. There’s an argument to be made that when travel resumes to pre-pandemic levels, it will be done with a greater sense of purpose and appreciation for local communities and the environment.”

A hotel (almost) never sleeps – The Covid-19 crisis has impacted the everyday lives of billions of people globally, severely damaging economies and posing the biggest challenge the travel industry has ever faced. Despite many people putting their life on hold and some businesses coming to a halt, for open IHG Hotels in the UK the proportion of business and leisure bookings was similar in June – August 2020 compared to previous years, in part due to rooms being booked by housing key workers, essential services and the homeless.

Karan Khanna, Managing Director, UK&I commented: “From China and Australia, to the UK and US, we’ve worked with governments, organisations and hotel owners to help provide accommodation to those who need it most. This includes looking after thousands of healthcare workers, delivery drivers and the homeless across the UK.”

Age is more than a number – The number of 65-year olds and above travelling dropped from 16% in 2019 to 11% in 2020 (March to August). Given the nature of the virus and the recommendations for older populations, unsurprisingly, older guests saw the steepest decline in activity during the peak of Covid-19 in April. Since then, while other age groups have witnessed a steady recovery, it’s much stronger among younger guests (35 years old and below).

NOTE: Based on UK IHG Hotel Bookings from June – August 2020, unless otherwise stated.