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Is the staycation here to stay? UpperKey weighs in

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When it comes to the state of international travel and tourism, never have the holidaying masses been more aware of just how unpredictable things are in the here and now.

Owners, agents and short-let property management services entered 2021 with mixed hopes for where the holidaying masses would be heading. The staycation seemed to be the big winner in 2021, but how are things moving into 2022? With restrictions easing, surely, we’re going to see the back of domestic and local breaks and getaways.

Don’t be so sure is the message from the industry. Today we’re looking into a few predictions for 2022 and how trends could remain quite attractive for second-property owners and anyone operating an Airbnb property management style model.

“The course of life is unpredictable; no one can write his autobiography in advance.” Rabbi Abraham Heschel
When it comes to the state of international travel and tourism, never have the holidaying masses been more aware of just how unpredictable things are in the here and now.

Throughout 2020, it was a safe bet that nobody was going anywhere, yet if you’d asked the question throughout the year, many were still crossing their fingers for a flight out of the country to warmer climes and the respite they craved more than ever.

2021 arrived and things slowly started to open up, but oh so slowly. With traffic-light systems, vaccine passports, testing at every point of the process proving increasingly frustrating, possible quarantining, and emergency return departures for those braving the risks and the seeming infinite hoops to jump through—they had mixed reports of whether it was worth the effort or not.

Those who chose to play it safer, however, picking the staycation, or “holistay” as their annual holiday or for a selection of weekends away and well-earned breaks, well, they fared a lot better. After all, they had to contend with far fewer restrictions, mainly with more than manageable requests such as bubbles, party numbers, and hygiene expectations. Hotels, short-stay hosts, and property management companies instigated new practices to cater for visitors who would previously have been sat on a beach or in a European café than hiking up the hills a hundred miles from where they live.

International doors are open, but what will we have to do to make sure we can squeeze through them when we want to
Be flexible; again, be prepared for the unpredictable. Nobody can foresee a country suddenly shutting its borders last minute for whatever reason, yet France did it to the UK this month, so don’t be so bold as to think those days are behind us. Not for a long shot.

Each country’s economy needs hospitality and travel to open up to begin to recoup theirs and their government’s losses, especially those with the biggest losses. Despite their need for travellers’ dollars, euros, and yen, what they don’t need are any more surprise lockdowns.

Paris suffered massive losses that continued through 2021, when it had hoped to start picking up the slack. Despite England leading the charge when it comes to open borders, easing restrictions, and pushing for a better flow of footfall into the country, the numbers are still a long way down compared to where the powers that be would like them.

The figures in most capital cities, including London, are way down, but some are more hopeful than others to get life back on track and nearer to what we consider normal.

Short-term letting was the hospitality business model of 2021
According to Parkdean Resorts’ Staycation Report of 2021, the brands that came out on top, not surprisingly, were Airbnb and Travelsupermarket with a 50% increase in online searches, and showing just how much stronger the local market was, TripAdvisor with a whopping 809% rise in search volume.

The regions showing healthy increases in the staycationer market were fairly widespread, with many heading for the wide-open green spaces we felt were the safest during the most worrying times. London, however, still held its own with a 7% increase—the same as the East of England and only 1% behind Yorkshire and the Humber.

If you were a short-let host or Airbnb property management style company, the figures didn’t look too bad at all. In fact, compare them to the airlines, and they were having the time of their life.

Go big or go home in 2022 – quite literally the dividing options
It looks likely, given the bookings and predicted cautious return to international holiday travel we’ve seen so far, that the staycation is here for a little while longer. Great news for the hosts and property management organisations ideally placed to take full advantage, but don’t write off those vacationers who can’t resist the pull of a real adventure.

CNBC is predicting that there are plenty of us so desperate to make up for lost experiences that the holidays of 2022 are going to include bigger, braver travel. These travellers are hoping to fulfil those bucket list trips that have been so far off the table over the past few years that they’ve become more desirable than ever.

With two years of feeling hemmed in, they expect to see a rise in trips to the most staggering of destinations: exploring the history of Rome, experiencing river cruises along the Nile, or finally witnessing the magic of Machu Picchu first hand.

There’s also the suggestion that older generations are planning bigger and better holidays. Without knowing how long the impact of the pandemic will stick around—or how long they will—it’s being seen as a possible ‘now or never’ scenario.

Budgets for international travel are up, but bargains in Britain are still on trend
For the hopeful 2022 international traveller who hasn't had the same opportunities to spend as they might have on a dream getaway in 2020 or 2021, it means there’s a greater desire to dig even deeper into their pockets for their dream breaks this summer.

Heading back to the UK Staycation report, 53% of Brits are still planning on UK-based breaks on lower budgets. The average current outlay is around a third less than pre-COVID international holiday spending.

Travel trends for 2022
So how about a few of what we think could be the big trends for travel in 2022. Whether they’re enough to persuade the staycationers overseas or not is something we’ll have to report back on later in the year. But for now, here are a few of our best-guess predictions.

  • Restriction-free travel destinations – Fewer or no restrictions will permit freer travel to those countries leading the charge and will be the most sought after, simplest destinations.
  • Spa, personal development and meditational retreats – With all the stresses of being locked up and hemmed in, surely, a break to let off all that steam and stress must be high on our collective agendas?
  • ‘Workations’ will remain high on young workers agendas – Remote working will continue to allow employees to work where they want, taking extended trips and working from exciting locations, reaping the hi-life on offer.
  • Adventure and extreme expeditions – Having embraced our green spaces, open areas, and exercise during the pandemic, more of us will head out on walking, hiking, or extreme expeditions to boost our serotonin levels.
  • Bucket list escapes and ‘Greatest Ever Trips’ – Hemmed-in travellers will get back onto planes with a bang to experience holidays of a lifetime.
  • Group family and friend holidaying – With limited access to friends and family in 2020, there are still plenty of us hoping to make up for lost time by arranging bigger and better group holidays with those that we’ve missed the most.
  • Professional planners advising the prime options – Despite DIY travellers saving vast sums for years, taking advice from the professionals who understand the latest shortfalls and how to avoid the most likely losses will increase this year.

Taking advantage of the staycation trend with guaranteed rent property management from UpperKey
With short-let hosts and property management companies taking full advantage of staycationer trends, anyone with a second home or property would be wise to consider entering the market to up their income.

With rising energy prices and the cost of living set to explode, an easy, additional income could well be the answer to what stands to be a nasty financial bump for most of us.

If you’ve always thought it too much hassle or far too much work to let your property, the Airbnb property management and Airbnb concierge systems that take on the work for you is an area you need to explore.

UpperKey is one of the few property management services that offer guaranteed rents for your property. It’s our job to ensure the best returns, so we make sure we maximise bookings, keep your property in pristine shape, and provide an excellent experience for all of your guests.

All that’s left for you to do is count your earnings.

There’s always a silver lining, however unpredictable the clouds are
Despite so much still hanging over international travel before it can get back to pre-COVID simplicity and confidence, the staycation trend looks set to stretch out for a few more years. Whether you’re willing to brave the risks and regulations for your annual breaks and weekend getaways or not, there are plenty of wonderful homes to be had, over the sea or just down the road.

The travel insurance providers are the only other sector we imagine that’s never been so run off their feet as they are right now.

Free cancellations score highest on what staycationers are looking for, with money-back guarantees and flexible bookings not too far behind. I, for one, wouldn’t like to be in the holiday insurance broker’s shoes for the foreseeable future…

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