Don’t think ‘new-normal’, think evolution…
Part 3 – Local Tourism and Leisure
One of the gradual ‘winners’ (if there is such a thing) arising from the Covid-19 pandemic might well be the UK tourism industry. Initially completely shut down by the pandemic, our domestic tourist trade might in fact be very well placed to reap longer-term rewards as many people reconsider the desirability of holidaying abroad, for a variety of reasons. Indications appear to be that some operators may well have made up early lost ground by the end of the year. The traditionally quiet ‘shoulder-months’ were already becoming part of an extended summer period. Given the right offering some might expect to see this extend further into the off season, in turn driving prices up. This appears to be currently backed-up by the amount of Friday and Saturday traffic on the A30, even into the start of October. From what we have read, the thoughts are that higher quality, self-contained and well-appointed accommodation will fair best, providing a lot of potential for the construction industry in the upgrading of older sites. The operators we are working with seem to be backing this up. Again however, the trend has been a general movement in this direction, will better quality, shorter length stays being highly valued by those ‘needing’ that more regular opportunity to unwind, and happy to pay for the right product. A hot tub is a ‘must’ of course. All this is not to detract from the difficulties and upheaval our domestic market has seen this year, especially early in the season when Easter is traditionally a lucrative couple of weeks.
Other types of accommodation and holiday parks that appear to continue to have appeal are those offering a family orientated offering, with on-site entertainment, facilities, and access to cycle or river networks for the outdoor, nature-loving types. Linked with an ecological message and access to copious amounts of hummus and artisan bread and it’s all boxes ticked for your average middleclass family. And with the current situation in mind for the foreseeable future, smaller, spacious locations might gain traction over the Centre Parcs style of offering.
In the shorter term, outdoor attractions generally will of course fair better than those based heavily indoors. Golf seems to be an ideal choice, and this is apparently the case, locally at least. But as things change, there will inevitably be investment opportunities in entertainment and other facilities to support this new accommodation. Luckily the spring and summer weather since mid-March has been unusually fine (August aside as always) and this will no doubt have coloured opinion in this respect. We might be facing a different proposition if we experience a couple of wet peak seasons in future years. It will be interesting to see what inventive ideas operators will employ to provide ‘safe’ outdoors appeal through the year in the southwest, where our climate does tend to support winter activities as well as summer, given protection from rain!
Most of us will have seen the impressive expansion of external seating and amenities at many locations providing food, drink and entertainment, and I for one have really welcomed this as a better option (regardless of Covid-19) as someone with small children. Traditionally this has been very much the secondary option to sitting inside but done well this can be a very affordable and adaptable way of increasing both appeal and capacity. If they can be out of the wind and rain most people will be happy. The bonus is that they might not stay so long, so potentially turnover of tables could be greater. We’ll keep an eye on how our local businesses fair over the winter.
In concluding this trilogy of blogs, the theme here is change. Real change requires a catalyst, in this case it’s the world’s response to dealing with the potential effects of a virus on our healthcare systems. This type of change is very similar to the changes that occur in natural systems, when a natural genetic mutation can create a whole new adaptation within a species. We can choose to embrace this change and use it for the better, or try to carry on regardless, but essentially a lot of this change has been coming for years in an evolutionary manner and you’d be a fool to fight it. Covid-19 has been that catalyst, forcing us to sit up and take notice. The current scenario is not ‘new-normal’ (I so hate that phrase, there is nothing normal about keeping 2m away from anyone else, let’s not kid ourselves) and in time life will revert back to largely what it was, albeit more efficient and ultimately the better for it. But as a mass social experiment this year has been an education, and really very useful if we want to take the lessons onboard. We can travel less, we can work remotely, and we can meet virtually, and all of this can be used to address our work / life balance as well as reducing our carbon footprints. If you want to grasp the opportunity to take stock, embrace that change for the better and rethink your organisation or way of living, ADG and our network of consultants are here to help you through this process.