Industry analysis: 2015 in review

At the beginning of 2015 inflation continued to fall in the UK (even dipping into deflation for a brief moment), and interest rates remained close to zero.

Did this affect bookings for self-catering accommodation in the UK?

There was a change in buyer behaviour. People didn’t stop going on holiday, but their habits were changing. Whilst bookings continued to increase, there was a decrease in impulse buying. In a nutshell guests were taking shorter breaks and planning their holidays further in advance.

Length of stay

In 2015, 41% of all bookings were for a stay of just 1-3 nights. This is 3% more than in 2014 and 4% more than in 2013.

Visit England reported that the average length of stay in 2015 was 3.1 nights. Our stats show it was slightly higher for the UK self-catering sector at 5.5 nights, but they reinforce that fewer people were booking a full week.

Booking leadtimes

After four years of austerity, in 2015 people were playing it safe and booking further in advance. This would provide time for saving or spreading payments, planning ahead instead of buying on a whim.

Booking leadtimes of 121-180 days increased from 9% to 13%, with the majority of bookings placed 181-365 days in advance.

Whilst late bookings still made up a significant share, they have reduced by 4% since 2012 when bookings with 0-7 days leadtime were the highest (joint with 31-60 days).

What’s next?

From an economic viewpoint, the year ended pretty much as it began. In December the UK’s inflation rate rose to 0.2% (the first time all year that it exceeded 0.1%), and commentators were not expecting a rise in interest rates any time soon. So we’d expect similar pattern to continue, with guests planning in advance and having a more cautious approach to spending.

But, air fares experienced the biggest rise for 13 years. So will UK self-catering accommodation providers benefit from this price hike and see domestic holidays surge? Watch this space.