Comment: For domestic advice the agent knows best

Comment: For domestic advice the agent knows best

Staycation, glamping, holidaying at home: call it what you will, there’s no doubt that breaks in the British Isles have enjoyed a revival in the past few years.

So it was with thoughts of cycling through pine forests, rabbits hopping by, and messing around in a canoe, that I started looking for a UK family break for myself this week.

First stop, Center Parcs, where my search revealed I’d be paying £869 to £2,999 for a woodland lodge in the peak summer holidays for a family of five.

Good grief! Nearly £3,000 to stay in a log cabin? A converted barn near the south coast that sleeps up to eight people was more than £800 for the week. Add on the petrol, the food, the wine and the days out for five people, and it’s more like £2,000. Why are holidays in the UK still so expensive?

The overseas market is down, yet our own survey shows that 32% of Britons are still planning to book their holiday just a few weeks before they travel. But 54% say they still feel unable to commit to booking a holiday this year without finding a special deal at the last minute.

We’ve had headlines this week about steep rises in both fuel and food prices. And with inflation rising well ahead of earnings, we all know that household budgets are stretched to breaking point.

We keep hearing about the “squeezed middle classes”, who are presumably the customers who normally frequent woodland lodges and converted barns. So where are the deals for them?

I’m not just talking about rock-bottom prices. There doesn’t seem to be any creative packages out there to attract middle Britain. If I’d seen ‘book now and get a free petrol voucher’, or a complimentary M&S food, hamper, or free entrance into local attractions, then I might have been tempted.

Overseas resorts have been quick to convert to all-inclusive, a concept that has gained momentum in recent years. Yet, there’s no all-inclusive equivalent in the UK. I can’t help thinking some clever hotel or resort must be able to make it work.

For agents, domestic holidays aren’t always an easy sell. Yet they are popular, especially with  upmarket families. Agents could come into their own in this market – as there is potential for high-value sales.

An industry friend suggested that I look at Hoseasons – which has lots of luxury woodland lodges, many with hot tubs – and lots of activities that cost less than those at Center Parcs.
Now that’s the sort of advice I couldn’t have got online – and that’s exactly where an agent comes into their own.

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