Unsure about booking domestic breaks? Emily Ashwell checks out a range of UK trips to suit almost anyone
Our domestic tourism industry has a holiday to suit everyone, but are you in a position to deliver? Although massively diverse, there are certain types of breaks in the UK that all agents should be ready to sell. Here are a few suggestions that should enable you to cover your bases.
All-weather family holiday
From fun-packed holiday parks to luxury hotels, the UK offers fantastic breaks for families looking to fill a rain-sodden school holiday. In terms of holiday parks, each of the main brands – Pontins, Haven, Center Parcs and Butlins – markets itself slightly differently, but the basic premise is the same: plenty of fun for kids and adults whatever the weather.
Allan Lambert, head of retail sales at Bourne Leisure says: “These breaks are popular with families because of convenience of travel, better value for money than similar options overseas and the extensive activities for children.
“They suit families looking for an alternative to a foreign holiday or an additional break to supplement their overseas holiday. They are also popular with multi-generational clients. All customers with children are a potential sale.”
But don’t just think holiday parks – hotels are increasingly catering to the family market too. For example, the Von Essen hotel group has a Luxury Family Hotels brand featuring properties such as the Ickworth Hotel and Apartments in Suffolk, which has two kids’ clubs – one for older and one for younger children.
Parents can relax in the spa knowing their little cherubs are being cared for in an Ofsted-registered nursery. There are also children’s menus and plenty of fun facilities outdoors, including a woodland adventure playground.
Sample product: A three-night family holiday for four sharing Silver self-catering accommodation at Butlins Minehead or Skegness in October costs from £59 per person. Activities include Splash Waterworld, tenpin bowling, laser-quest, cheerleading classes and a circus school. bourneleisuresales.co.uk, 0845 070 4742
There’s a huge market for holidays centred around a theme or a certain activity and there is pretty much something to suit every taste. Nostalgia tours, archery weekends, and, for clients inspired by the return of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, there are dancing weekends on offer.
Coach operators including Grand UK and Shearings offer tours with a central focus such as steam trains in Scotland. Options targeting a younger audience include Hoseasons, whose Go Active breaks encompass all sorts of sporting activities.
Marketing your services to local clubs and associations is an obvious place to potentially get bookings for these holidays.
Harold Burke, sales director at Grand UK Holidays, says: “We are seeing more customers take short themed breaks, as people increasingly want to do more on their holidays than relax.
“We also find that people want to treat themselves throughout the year so they will book these in the shoulder season. If agents focus on the over-55s market, they can tap into a loyal, lucrative group of customers who book several short breaks a year. Our partner travel agencies see high repeat booking levels. We sell 86% of our holidays via travel agents as our customers appreciate the service an agent can offer.”
Sample product: Places on Shearings’ eight-day Gardens of Sussex tour lead in at £439. shearingsagent.com, 01942 823449
Coach and rail holidays touring the most scenic parts of the UK represent a growing market for agents. Many coach operators offer local joining points too, minimising additional travel for customers. These tours are particularly good sells to solo travellers as they are social, and can be a comfortable, leisurely way of travelling.
Both Great Rail Journeys and Treyn say they have seen an 80% growth in sales from retail travel agents in the past year and the support of travel trade partners is key to the success of their new programmes in 2012.
Tony Byrne, national sales manager at Great Rail Journeys and Treyn, says: “For 2012 we’ve built in as much content as possible to our product and this is great news for agents as they can earn commission on the whole tour. Agents have been telling me that, more than ever, customers considering holidays in the UK are asking for good-value holidays which don’t involve flying.”
Sample product: Brochure prices for Treyn lead-in at £275 for its Yorkshire by Steam tour. railholidays.com, 01904 734940
Whether it’s a cosy bolthole in the Cotswolds, a chic townhouse in Edinburgh or a stately home in Yorkshire, the UK has some brilliant boutique hotels. These properties are stylish and individual, and many have an outstanding feature such as a great spa, restaurant or golf course.
Groups such as Small Luxury Hotels of the World are bookable through the GDS code LX, while Superbreak sells upmarket properties such as Hotel du Vin, and operators such as Warner Breaks cater for adults.
Superbreak national sales manager Graham Balmforth says the company’s core business is one or two-night short stays, with most clients travelling no more than two hours from where they live. “Agents should get to know the really nice four or five-star hotels near where they live,” he advises.
“There will be clients who have been to events such as weddings there and will want to return.”
Sample product: Superbreak’s lead-in price for Hotel du Vin in Harrogate is £62.50, including breakfast, valid Sunday to Thursday, until the year’s end. superbreak.com/agents, 0871 221 4444
Self-cater to everyone
Self-catering holidays suit all sorts of clients, from families looking for a home from home, to big groups gathering for a special occasion.
This is your opportunity to sell clients stays at some quirky properties, or fix them a break in an amazing location, whether on the coast or right in a city centre. The properties are also flexible in size and there are plenty of pet-friendly options.
A spokesman for Cottages4you says: “For those bookers who want complete flexibility, cottage holidays are the perfect foundation for a tailor-made break. As many properties include the luxurious interiors expected of a four or five-star resort without the constraints of their pre-determined meal times or staff hours, agents can help build a package that offers quality and the complete freedom to do what customers want, when they want and how they like it.”
Sample product: Cottages4you sells stays at the Lendal Tower in York for durations of three to 21 nights, with a one-week stay costing from £1,997. The 800-year old tower, which sleeps six, is part of the city’s defences and is located on the banks of the River Ouse. cottages4you.co.uk, 0845 268 1732