There has been a marked increase in the number of people vacationing in the UK with coronavirus-related travel restrictions limiting overseas travel. But how does this story play out for small businesses?
We’ve spoken to Simply Business clients, from ice cream shop owners to tour guides, to learn about their experiences with the travel boom.
What is the impact of staycations on business owners?
Here are some of the ups and downs our small business clients have experienced over the past few months as visitors flock to the seaside towns and villages for their UK summer holidays.
Tour guides navigating in bad weather
The idea of ”stay” can conjure up a quintessential British holiday scene with lounge chairs, ice cream and sending postcards home. However, it’s not uncommon for time to put a damper on things.
Rotten Ramsgate Tours in Kent, South East England, offers true criminal tours that explore the historic murders and the city’s connection to Jack the Ripper.
The owner of the travel agency, Johanne, told us how the pandemic impacted her business with several months of closure. She said there was now an added challenge: “People are thrilled to be able to go back to pubs, whereas last summer I didn’t have this competition”.
She added: “The threat of bad weather also affects whether people want to book.”
Remember, it’s a good idea to do a competitive analysis on a regular basis so that you know the potential businesses you are competing with and how you can stand out to your customers.
A positive summer, but potential supply challenges
A dessert restaurant in Burnham-on-Sea offers everything from cookie dough and waffles to American pancakes and ice cream. Just Desserts told us that while they need to pivot their business to offer deliveries during shutdowns, they’re hoping for a good end of summer now that they can accommodate customers inside.
When it comes to getting through a busy holiday season, Just Desserts gave this advice:
“We have been informed by the local council that all holiday parks and houses are full until October. There are also supply issues on many products, so just make sure you have inventory and use different vendors if you need them. “
Read our guide on how to take inventory to make sure you’re on top of your inventory and receiving orders as early as possible from your suppliers.
Launch of a new tourism business after confinement
Meanwhile, Rhys Schelewa-Davies didn’t start his own tour guide business until May of this year, but is already feeling positive about how it’s going. He offers historical walks and lectures around his village of Llansteffan in Wales.
When setting up Llansteffan Heritage Walks, Rhys told us, “I had to delay launching this business for a year due to the pandemic, and almost gave it up altogether. But I was urged to put everything in place before the start of the tourist season this year.
“Areas like Llansteffan were clearly very popular during the pandemic. Staycations were very popular here before and seem to be even more popular now.
Rhys also offered helpful tips on marketing and growing a business. He said: “Vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, hotels, shops, pubs and other tourist places and attractions are great for advertising with leaflets and leaflets. And if they have social media pages, you can share posts with them from your own page.
“It’s also good to get in touch with other businesses in your area to see how their custom rate has changed and how they are adjusting to it. Collaborating and sharing ideas with other companies doesn’t hurt either.
If you’re thinking about how to get more customers, check out some of our marketing guides and get more Google reviews.
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Frequentation challenges for glaciers
Luigis Gelato, an ice cream maker based in Southsea, Portsmouth, found business difficult. Not being so close to the beach, as well as unpredictable UK weather conditions, made it even more difficult to attract customers.
They told us: “The companies located by the sea have indeed sold more ice cream than usual because people do not travel abroad and instead go to the local sea.
“Unfortunately, my place is not well located and there is hardly any traffic for the ice cream sales. On top of that, we haven’t had much ice cream favorable weather over the past few months with a lot of rain.
With the weather forecast looking positive for some sunshine at the end of the summer, we hope that the demand for ice cream will improve. Even if you’re not in a prime location, there are some practical things you can try to increase footfall to your premises.
Are staycations here to stay?
Rhys, our customer tour guide in Wales, seems to think so. He shared: “I have a feeling that domestic tourism and stays in this country will now be much more common and will not just stop when the pandemic finally ends.
“So, as terrible as this pandemic is, if more small businesses can grow from these changes in the tourism industry, then at least something good will have emerged from it.”
How has the travel boom impacted your business? Share your story in the comments.