Why the great British break should be top of your marketing bucket list

The UK domestic travel market is booming, so what does this mean for your next marketing promotion?

We investigate the wonderful world of the staycation and how you can tap into latest travel trends.

What do you mean, you need a holiday? Well, you won’t be alone on that score.

Like towels on beach beds, there’s one thing every marketer can relate to: the quest to find that next promotional campaign that draws the biggest audience in, hook, line and sinker.

Travel promotions have always packed a suitcase with punch on that front. But these are unusual times, and as such, increasing customer engagement and building lasting brand relationships is moving into unchartered waters.

As a result, we’ve been examining fresh consumer trends, to help you better steer your next marketing campaign in the right direction. And it’s interesting to learn that for most consumers, this year’s big holiday getaway isn’t going to take them far away at all.

The ‘2018 Sodexo UK Exploring Travel’ survey reveals that increasing numbers of Brits are seeking to take holidays at home this year. And who can blame them?

It could be because consumers are looking for greater economic wellbeing before booking far flung getaways, or it could be the global uncertainty that makes a local offering a more attractive proposition.

Either way, the UK’s appetite for holidaying close to home could well influence your next marketing promotion.

So, we ask, how can you bank on the Great British staycation?


It seems many of us are happy to explore our own country, and we’re doing it more frequently than ever before. We might be under financial pressure, but we’re not willing to give up our holidays – although two-week breaks are no longer de rigueur. Instead, we’re taking shorter, more frequent trips.

The ‘2018 Sodexo UK Exploring Travel’ survey reveals that 46% of people are currently planning, or have already taken, an overnight UK break in 2018. A further 39% say they are interested in taking a trip, but haven’t yet started planning.

In addition, “54% of British adults chose to holiday closer to home in 2017 through personal preference rather than limitations around cost. (Barclays)”. This indicates that we don’t want to go abroad because of the uncertainty around travel.

If you’ve been caught up in the travel industry knockbacks of recent years, it might be a relief to holiday in your own country instead. We’ve had everything from travel companies going bust to an increase in terrorism, air strikes and resort stuffing (general overcrowding to you and me), through to exploding volcanoes and ash clouds, all seeking to thwart our precious vacation plans.

It’s food for thought, and perhaps why a whopping “42% of British holidaymakers would consider making a UK holiday their ‘main holiday’ (Barclays)”.

The staycation trend in UK tourism means marketers can shift their focus closer to home when planning future experiential campaigns — without compromising on results.


These days, when consumers plan a staycation, it’s going to be less about Martin Parr and rather a more stylish, sensory, kitsch and cool experience than previous decades would have offered.  

Alex Wilson, staycations expert and co-founder of Host Unusual, says “The general travel trend at the moment is for experience-based holidays, and that’s in full force when it comes to staycations – people want to stay in unique places like underground bunkers or a treehouse in the canopy. Staycation demand is up 70 per cent in 2017 versus 2016.”

Think ‘hobbit houses’, light houses and windmills for starters. The options for amazing bespoke travel prize incentives are endless. And as for the promotional tie-ins, just about any type of product can get busy brainstorming marketing ideas. 

But that’s not to say that consumers are shunning old favourites like Eastbourne, Llandudno and Bournemouth altogether – although we think we know who’s going here still. Perfect if you’re targeting the silver pound.

ABTA tells us that new hot spots are in demand, and smart marketers could do well to put a fresh spin on the traditional seaside holiday by highlighting lesser-known, alternative resorts such as Tenby, Robin Hood’s Bay or Southwold.   

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Travel promotions give marketers the chance to attract customers, boost brand loyalty and create eye-catching moments that start conversations – and all for less outlay than you’d think.

Amy Nield, Head of ProTravel at Sodexo says, “Instead of one hefty headline promotion, I expect to see tactical marketers using a range of smaller, targeted campaigns to maximise reach and impact on their audience this year.”

So, what could be better than tapping into the demand for domestic travel?

What’s even more impressive about tailored prize incentives and travel promotions is the fact you can easily target a wide audience. In fact, as far as hip hang outs go, staycations can certainly keep up with the Shoreditch crowd. And by keeping up with them, you’re likely to put the ‘experience’ centre stage.

Here’s how savvy marketers can get on the travel trend boat…


Whether it’s a luxury spa hotel with all the trimmings or a family-friendly hotel that offers free childcare and activities for kids whilst you lounge in the spa, the luxury relaxation market is an attractive proposition for worn out working people. As Sodexo’s report says, “33% of people say the main reason they’ll take a UK leisure trip in 2018 is to “escape and relax”.

With the wellness trend on the rise – it grew by 14% in just two years (2013 -2015) – health and wellbeing promotions will perform well at the top of any marketer’s list. Prize incentives such as free gym memberships, entries to fitness challenges like Tough Mudder, yoga retreats and spa days are all low-cost but enticing giveaways. 


City breaks are top of the list as Brit’s preferred holiday of choice. In fact, “ABTA tells us that city breaks continued to be the nation’s favourite holiday type in 2017, with over half the population having taken one.” And the UK’s cities are firmly in our sights, promising a range of fascinating and diverse experiences.

Top of the ten best UK cities list according to the Telegraph Travel Awards 2017 was Edinburgh, York and Bath. Marketers who complement a city break with a bespoke, on-brand experience can attract customers and build brand loyalty without blowing the budget, just like that. 


It’s true that consumers are interested in getting away from the busy crowded hot spot of Spain and Portugal. Let’s face it, the Mediterranean coastline in July isn’t a pretty place. It can get so busy that tourists have to fight for a postage stamp of beach at times. And that’s without mentioning beach towels again.

For this reason, tour operators are seeing more interest in remote destinations like Snowdonia, Dungeness and Skye. People are seeking to get away from it all without incurring massive bills as they do it. Take your brand promotions to far flung UK destinations and you will impress consumers who may have been there and got the t-shirt more times than they care to remember. It’s a great way to create pulling power across the generations.


If your brand promotion includes a trip to a destination that others won’t have been to, so much the better. It offers the ultimate in escapism. And sometimes you need to put distance between your home and your destination to get that sense of being off the beaten track.  

Increasingly tourists are seeing responsible tourism – working with local people around their culture and ways of life – as a more authentic way to travel. Doing the right thing leads to a more enjoyable experience. And that’s also applicable to the UK travel market. Think eco-experiences such as dolphin spotting in Cardigan, kayaking in Dartmoor or cooking up a haggis for Burns Night. Giving back to the local UK economy feels good – something marketers may do well to tap into.


Ultimately, travel is perhaps the greatest memory maker of them all. If you’re willing to invest a little time and effort in tapping into UK travel promotion trends and targeting, you’ll find there’s a lot on offer.

The beauty is, British travel incentives can be tied into any brand and any budget. For your consumers, it opens up new possibilities and escapism at a time when it couldn’t be better placed.

Why not take your customers on a journey and you’ll see them respond in kind. It’s a passport to marketing success, and you don’t have to look that far afield to find it…

Exploring Travel - Hitting consumer sweet spots with remarkable experiences