Exploring the micro-trip market
While micro-trips are lower value than longer holidays, they still offer large potential.
The traditional two-week holiday is increasingly declining among travellers, boosting micro-trips (stays of one to three nights) as a result. Although the duration of these trips are shorter, the market is big business: according to research firm, Mintel, the total number of short breaks taken by UK consumers increased by 6.5% in 2017, reaching 46.4 million trips. Expenditure also grew to an estimated £9.8bn.
Transport innovations – such as budget long-haul flights and on-demand car rentals – and consumer changes are driving the trend. “Holidays in general have become a very high priority for consumers over recent years,” says John Worthington, Senior Travel Analyst, Mintel. “This is part of a wider shift towards the ‘experience economy’, in which less tangible forms of purchase have become more important than material acquisitions. Short breaks feed into this, since they can provide experiences relatively frequently.
Mintel’s Short and City Breaks 2018 report found that 42% of adults prefer to take a number short breaks than one or two longer holidays each year and 44% felt they could fit short breaks better around work commitments.
These consumer changes also reflect a shift in booking behaviour, with micro-trips more likely to be last-minute decisions. Between 2015 and 2017, travel-related searches for ‘tonight’ and ‘today’ surged by over 150% on mobile devices – an opportunity properties can capitalise on by taking a strategic approach to their offerings.
While micro-trips are lower value than longer holidays, Mintel’s Worthington believes they still offer large potential: “Short break visitors are more likely to travel all year round and their average spend per day is a lot higher than that of longer holidaymakers. [They are also] clearly very beneficial for hotels as this is the default accommodation for many short breaks. However, within cities (the biggest short break segment by some margin) there is also growing competition for hotels from ‘sharing economy’ property rentals, especially from short breaks abroad.”
Since cities dominate the micro-trip market, there’s an opportunity for destination marketers to promote new, lesser-known destinations, especially to those who’ve already visited major hotspots. “There is also an opportunity for brands to promote a greater diversity of trips beyond the city, for example beach weekends, adventure/activity breaks and health/self-improvement breaks,” says Worthington.
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