Features.

Exploring the micro-trip market

With 53% of travellers* planning to take more weekend trips in 2019, bite-sized travel is more enticing than ever. Click. explores the growing market and how properties can tap into the trend

by Nicola Donovan, Click. Travel Writer, Booking.com

Topic: Guest experience

Click. Takeaway

  • According to research by Booking.com, 53% of travellers are planning to take more weekend trips in 2019
  • Short breaks taken by UK consumers increased by 6.5% in 2017, reaching 46.4 million trips
  • 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
  • Curated itineraries are expected to play a significant role in maximising a traveller’s time spent in a destination
  • The trend is especially prevalent in the UK, appealing to almost two-thirds (64%) of young Brits

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.

Driving factors

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.

Industry opportunities

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.”

Photo: Flo Maderebner, Pexels

Photo: Flo Maderebner, Pexels

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.

Curated itineraries are expected to play a significant role in maximising a traveller’s time spent in a destination. Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay tapped into the micro-tripper market by offering guests curated experiences that are unique to the property’s location. “The team brings the very best crafted journeys, tips and ways to explore Ibiza, curating tailored itineraries for our guests whether they’re keen explorers, fitness enthusiasts, adventure seekers or gourmet lovers,” says Lisandro Nembrini, Head of Concierge at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay. “Having a trusted team at the hotel takes the hard work out of guests planning their own adventure. A lot of our guests are continuously looking for new places to explore, so by doing the hard work for them it will hopefully keep them coming back year after year.”

“It’s all about understanding exactly what our guests want to get out of their trip and their preference in how they wish to explore,” continues Nembrini. “Working together with the guests allow us to be able to create individual itineraries. More and more holidaymakers are taking shorter trips so it’s important for us to offer all guests a great experience whether they stay for just two nights or two weeks.”

Brits are taking over 5.8 million more short breaks in England than they did 10 years ago

The trend is especially prevalent in the UK. VisitEngland launched its Join the World – #MyMicrogap campaign in partnership with the tourism organisations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, in a bid to get more young people to take short break staycations. Research showed that ‘micro-gapping’ (mini gap-year style breaks) appealed to almost two-thirds (64%) of young Brits, with more than half (57%) likely to take a micro-gap during the next three years. “Short breaks in England have been one of the major drivers of growth in recent years,” says Clare Mullin, Director of Marketing at VisitBritain/VisitEngland. “Brits are taking over 5.8 million more short breaks in England than they did 10 years ago.”

UK consumers are also taking more frequent short holidays abroad. “France (especially Paris) used to be the leading overseas destination [for the UK market], but it’s now been overtaken by Spain,” says Mintel’s Worthington. “City breaks to Barcelona are the dominant product. Trips to Madrid and other Spanish cities including Valencia, Seville, Bilbao, Granada and San Sebastian are also increasing.”

“Non-eurozone city-break destinations have seen a surge in demand over the past couple of years,” continues Worthington. “This has been driven by value-seeking consumers looking to maximise the value of a falling pound, and by rising low-cost airline connectivity. Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are the leading city break destinations. Amsterdam and all the usual suspects like Rome, Berlin, Dublin, Lisbon etc will stay near the top of the list, but also increasing ‘secondary cities’ opening up abroad.”

Update your property’s availability

Appeal to the micro-trip market by customising your minimum length of stay on the Extranet

*According to research by Booking.com

Hero image: credit to Esther Tuttle, Unsplash

Nicola Donovan is a travel writer for Click.

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