By Richard Drummond, COO of Hop Software the cloud-based Property Management System (www.hopsoftware.com)

With the staycation boom in full swing and over half (55%) of Britons planning a staycation this year, a recent survey of 2,000 UK holidaymakers found that Cornwall, The Lake District and Scottish Highlands are top of Britain’s staycation list.After enduring multiple lockdowns, and with overseas travel restrictions continuing, Britons are keen to holiday in the UK, which is fantastic news for hoteliers. In fact, almost a quarter of people we surveyed said one of the most positive aspects of taking a UK holiday was being able to put money back into the country’s economy.

BIG ‘BLOW OUTS’

However, it is worth noting that natural beauty spots away from the hustle and bustle came in well above famous holiday destinations including Brighton, and even London.With multiple lockdowns and enforced distancing from loved ones, it is clear that behaviours have shifted and the appetite for a hedonistic holiday has been overtaken by a desire to reconnect both with nature and with those we love.

In fact, when asked for their priorities when looking for a UK holiday destination, a combined 38% of respondents identified National Trust property and hiking as their main priorities, while 54% said they want to book a holiday to spend time with family and friends above anything else. Interestingly, a further one in five said that they were booking a get- away to help them get a ‘sense of purpose’ back. All of this suggests that people are no longer looking for “happiness” in the two-dimensional sense but instead for experiences that increase our sense of connection to deeper values.

THE VALUE OF PARTNERSHIPS

With an insight into the changing priorities of the British public, why not tailor your marketing to attract the 2021 consumer? One way this can be done is by looking into brand partnerships that may help you to attract a more mindful Britain.Think about the businesses surrounding your hotel. Is there a stunning hiking spot or a café on the peaks, per- haps there is a spa or yoga studio down the road, or even a boutique bookshop or an animal petting farm? Think about what your customer wants, and start a conversation with a brand that aligns with your values to begin a mutually-beneficial partnership that attracts customers to your door.

There are several ways you can maximise on brand partnerships. One involves your marketing team: ask them to look into link sharing. Link sharing provides exposure, aligns both brands together, and advances SEO. By sharing links, promotional material and even social media posts across both businesses’ channels, you will attract the attention of both customer bases. From an SEO and social engagement perspective, the benefits are vast and by increasing your viewing opportunity, you can attract new custom.

There are also many ways a partnership can benefit you offline by offering in-person incentives to drive footfall through your doors.This may come in the form of including your partner brand’s marketing material in welcome packages, providing giveaways, or giving each other’s customers a discount or promotion.

When thinking about a partnership keep your audience at the fore- front of your mind. For a family orientated hotel, look towards family attractions such as a local theme park or farm.Whereas if you’re looking to attract millennials, a yoga studio or free class at the hotel might provide a positive pull. Know your audience and local businesses, because partnerships can double your opportunity to be seen, which will not only raise your profile, but your profits too.

MEANINGFUL MARKETING

Consumer’s priorities have shifted and now more than ever, customers look to use ethical companies that demonstrate an interest in the environment, mental health, and employee wellbeing. One of the best online tips for hoteliers is to be human.The worst mistake to make on social media is appearing to be a faceless corporation. Showing off your human

side means showing off the faces behind the business.Whether it’s photos at work, or snapshots of your team socialising, getting personal on social media can help you form a much-needed connection.

Tailoring online content to promote mindfulness is another option, you could include quotes, tips and aspirational images of your hotel. But remember to practice what you preach. Consider whether there’s anything you can do to demonstrate that you are a company with a conscience.Think mental health training, mindfulness, and investing in your workforce. Not only will this enhance your reputation, but with a short- age of hospitality staff being reported, it means you will retain your staff too.

WHAT NEXT?

With many prioritising quality time with loved ones and in nature to switch off over blow outs in the sunshine, it’ll be interesting to see if these trends continue once overseas travel restrictions ease. But whatever happens, attitudes have shifted, and the change in mindset is a legacy that is likely to continue.The era of copy-and-paste-style mass tourism is over. People have had no choice but to find more meaningful ways to switch off than a drink and a late-night dance.Travel is more individualised, and hoteliers must respond to this trend not just now, but for the long-term.