What do Britons expect from Hotels in the UK?
A growing number of Britons opting for holidays on home soil, with 80% saying that staycations are less stressful than trips abroad. But how do they go about finding accommodation? Consumer behavioral insight specialists, Canvas8 spoke to 20 men and women to understand what’s most important to them when booking a hotel in the UK.
- When booking a hotel for a domestic trip, price and location are most important factors for Britons
- Boomers and Seniors want their hotel to be as close to restaurants and tourist spots as possible
- Some people want a staycation to feel as luxurious as a trip abroad, and therefore prioritise food and service
- Others care only about price, seeing the hotel as merely a place to sleep once their day is over
- 31% of Britons say that price is the most important factor when booking a hotel in the UK (Canvas8, 2017)
- 28% of people say that say that the proximity to tourist sights and attractions is paramount (Canvas8, 2017)
- Four in Five Britons say that staycations are less stressful than travelling abroad (Go Outdoors, 2017)
- 83% of Britons said that they planned to take a domestic holiday in 2017 (AirBnB, 2017)
Four in five Britons say that staycations are less stressful than travelling abroad, and with the pound’s devaluation after the EU referendum, the UK is looking like an increasingly attractive holiday destination for locals.  “Following the decision on Brexit, the nation's attention has turned back towards Britain and staycations are on the up,” says Catherine Terry, head of marketing at CrossCountry Trains. 
So, what does this mean for the UK’s hospitality sector? Staycations tend to be shorter, with more than 50% of domestic holiday-makers saying the trips they’re planning are for three days or less.  Yet that doesn’t mean people aren’t willing to splash out as they would on any other break; Britons spend £2.2 billion a year on caravaning and camping, and with a growing number of people taking breaks on home soil, they’re supporting small businesses catering to tourists, which saw year-on-year turnover increase by 8.3% in the first half of 2017. 
But what do Britons value most when booking accommodation at home? Research conducted by Canvas8 found that the price and location of a hotel are the main factors for 31% and 27% of respondents respectively. By contrast, just 8% say reviews and recommendations have the biggest impact on their booking decision, while 6% prioritise the available amenities (e.g. a swimming pool, gym, or Wi-Fi), and 6% insist that their lodgings are pet-friendly.  Canvas8 spoke to 20 men and women from across the UK to find out what is most important to them when planning a staycation.
At my age, it is very important to know that the accommodation is very comfortable and that the room is easily accessible – not up loads of stairs and near to a lift. I would always consider what is included – e.g. meals, entertainment, other facilities – and that there is access to other things like the beach or shopping or lovely walks or just lovely scenery. I also make sure that the price quoted is fixed and not changeable
Patricia, 82, London
When I go on staycations, the hotel has to be exceptionally nice so I can almost feel as though I’m not in England. I don’t want anything to remind me of prosaic daily life – no Tesco, quiet, no children. Countryside is quite important, but I’ve also stayed at the Hoxton and the Mondrian in London, which have high-quality food and service. Because it’s not abroad, it basically has to be really nice and pampering to be worth it
Andrew, 28, High Wycombe
Because I have two little ones, the most important thing is that it's kid-friendly and a creche is a must. I make sure there are approved babysitters and a baby pool and activity centre (soft play). But I also make sure there is a spa and a spacious room for me
Rachel, 32, Cuffley
We don’t holiday in the UK very often as we prefer warmer climates. But when we do, I look for a place where there are no children because I cannot stand their bad manners and unchecked screams. [I want] a place that has easy access to local activities – like shops, a beach, theatres – or one that has an in-house restaurant for dinner, because we’re not keen on strolling around towns at night to find somewhere to eat. I also look for whether there have been reviews posted about the venue so we can check others’ experiences. And price also has an influence, to some extent
David, 72, Oxford
There isn't really a difference when booking UK holidays versus holidays abroad. It would depend on what the occasion was and who I was going with. When I booked a place for my birthday in Margate in April, I needed somewhere big enough for lots of people, so space was the most important factor, hence staying in Ramsgate because nowhere in Margate was big enough. Price was a factor in that I wouldn't have booked somewhere crazy expensive, but paying a bit more wouldn't have influenced my decision. On the other hand, going away for a week in Scotland with just one other person, I would want the place itself to be nice in terms of interior, location, and natural beauty
Sarah, 30, London
The quality of the accommodation and the proximity to restaurants and bars are most important. I’m happy to stay in a city, town or small village as long as there are good restaurants and bars nearby
Paul, 54, Ruislip
I want them to be as nice as the international hotels. When I think of British ones, unless they are in cosmopolitan cities, they tend to feel a little regional, out of touch and often dated. That’s why the Soho House group is good, because you know what you’re going to get in terms of style and standards, but they are all different depending on their location
Steffan, 25, London
At my age, the hotel’s location is the most important thing. We can't do as much as we used to, so we have to stay in or near the hotel. Ideally, it would be in a nice town so we can look around without having to travel far. It is also nice to have beautiful scenery around that we can see without going far, or that we could get a coach to see
Brendan, 87, Northwood
When I’m booking a hotel in the UK, I’ll first look at reviews online (customer reviews or newspapers). If the general consensus is good – and by ‘good’ I would include good service, accommodating staff, cleanliness, etc. – then I will start to look at prices. I don’t mind spending a bit more than the lowest price if I think it’s going to improve the trip as a whole. I also like to have a look through the photo galleries of a hotel, to see if it looks the part; if I’m going to the countryside, then a rural inn would ideally have comfortable furnishings, a roaring fire, etc.
Elly, 31, London
I want to be near to stuff, I would never book a place in the middle of nowhere. There have to be amenities or a restaurant either a taxi drive or walk away. I will also look at reviews online to check what the breakfast is like. I think food is more important when I stay in the UK. I won't be swimming or sunbathing, so food plays a bigger role in my decisions. Also, I tend to book things in advance in the UK and research places to eat, whereas abroad I would just wander around the area and choose a place that I think looks nice
Verity, 24, Rickmansworth
Insights and opportunities
A staycation doesn’t differ that much from a holiday abroad when it comes to the importance of price. In part due to exchange rates being less favourable to Britons post-Brexit, a survey conducted by Airbnb found that 83% plan to holiday in the UK this year, with many people saying that it would be cheaper to take a local trip.  For 32-year-old Londoner James, finding good value accommodation is paramount; “Price is a major factor for me, and I begrudge occasions when I'm forced to spend money on a hotel. I'm not there to hang out in my room, I'm there to get out and do things.”
For some, it's the little luxuries that are important; 6% of respondents to Canvas8’s survey said the boarding type (B&B, half board, etc.) was the most important factor, with the same proportion valuing specific hotel amenities.  “When I go on a staycation, the hotel has to be exceptionally nice so I can almost feel as though I’m not in England,” says Andrew, 28, from High Wycombe, “I don’t want anything to remind me of prosaic daily life.” Ellie, 23, from London, also thinks that UK-based holidays need to meet a higher standard to make up for not going abroad. “If you're staying in the UK, you want to make sure it still feels like a holiday by staying somewhere really nice,” she says.
Among those aged 55 and over, location is the most important element, cited by 35% of this group.  Boomers and Seniors want to be close to the attractions and don’t want to waste time and energy. “I’m happy to stay in a city, town or small village, as long as there are good restaurants and bars nearby,” says Paul, from Ruislip. And it seems that the older you get, the more important location becomes. “At my age, the hotel’s location is the most important thing,” says Brendan, 87, from Norwood. “We can't do as much as we used to, so we have to stay in or near the hotel.”
Ultimately, there isn’t much of a difference in what Britons desire from a staycation as opposed to a holiday abroad. They do, however, set a higher standard when booking domestically, expecting UK hotels to provide them with an experience that is at the very least equivalent, and often superior, to the one they would get for the same price outside the country. Richard, 72, from Oxford, sums this up by saying: “The most important thing I look for when booking staycation accommodation is value for money.”
Canvas8 carried out this research in collaboration with Toluna, surveying 1,800 people across the UK in November 2017.
1. 'As 80% of us say a staycation is less stressful than a holiday abroad, six reasons why Britain is best', The Mirror (April 2017)
2. 'Brits 'favour staycations' in wake of Brexit', World First (November 2017)
3. 'Post-Brexit holidays: Staycations are on the rise as UK leaves EU', The Independent (April 2017)
4. 'Britons are hitting the road – with caravans in tow', The Economist (September 2017)
5. 'UK tourism is booming as more Brits choose to go on staycation', The Independent (August 2017)
6. Research conducted by Canvas8 in collaboration with Toluna
7. 'UK holiday BOOM: Four in five Britons opt for staycations to THIS destination in 2017', The Daily Express (June 2017)