Sykes Holiday Cottages COO Bev Dumbleton

How the pandemic has impacted the way people holiday

UK: Sykes Holiday Cottages COO Bev Dumbleton discusses how the pandemic has impacted the way in which people are making holiday choices and the latest trends in the market, ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer of domestic travel and staycations across the UK this year.

Holiday let owners across the UK are gearing up for what is expected to be one of the busiest summers on record for staycations. Not only because foreign travel remains so uncertain, but also because people are continuing to rediscover their love of the Great British staycation – and who can really blame them?

At Sykes, we’ve observed a number of changes in how Brits are holidaying in recent months, whether that be how and when they book their break or what’s on their list of priorities when it comes to accommodation.

The rising popularity of staycations – and trends amongst guests – will not only be evident this summer but are also likely to have a lasting impact on the sector in the years ahead. So, now is the time to learn all there is to know about the post-pandemic holiday let market and how it is evolving.

  • Booking breaks 

Firstly, the way in which people have booked holidays has changed, with last-minute breaks understandably being more common.

With restrictions constantly shifting, it’s no surprise that Brits are wanting to wait until the last minute to confirm anything. But equally, living for the moment has almost become the new normal post-pandemic, so spontaneous late breaks might be here to stay.

If you don’t already, you could consider last minute deals for your holiday let – lowering the price slightly in the weeks prior to availability to fill in any blanks in your bookings calendar.

Meanwhile, accepting shorter breaks could earn you 30 per cent more – particularly during the winter months when long weekends or mini breaks are more common. However, over the summer months, one- or two-week holidays still appear to be the more popular choice – with most Brits staycationing for their main holiday this year.

  • Self-service check-ins

Secondly, there’s now a greater level of self-service to bookings and check-in.

The pandemic has driven a definite shift, with things like key lockboxes or door codes to help with contactless collections more prevalent than ever.

If anything, this seems to be something holidaymakers prefer, allowing for a seamless check-in process without the need to arrange a time to meet the owner or make small talk after a long journey.

With the past year requiring a great deal of late changes to bookings, a streamlined online process has also become increasingly important. From making a booking, to amending dates or changing details, travellers now want to be in full control of the whole process from start to finish.

  • Quirky and pet-friendly staycations

Another difference is the increased demand for quirky and pet-friendly staycations post-lockdown.

In the absence of jetting off abroad, many are more open to splurging on their staycations if it means it will be a trip to remember.

From yurts and shepherd huts, to converted barns and buses, people aren’t afraid to spend a little more for the ‘experience’ that comes with these varied accommodation choices.

Meanwhile, bookings for pet-friendly properties are up 85 per cent – likely influenced by the rise in dog ownership since the start of the pandemic.

  • Location, location, location

Whether it’s the rugged moorland of the Peak District, seaside towns in South Wales or stunning views in the Scottish Highlands, each region of the UK has its own unique character and something to offer every holidaymaker.

According to Sykes’ data, Devon takes the top spot as the most-booked region for holiday lettings in the UK this summer, closely followed by the Peak District and Cornwall.

However, there are also some less common staycation destinations growing in popularity post-lockdown, with Brits keen to try out new destinations and discover the unknown.

Somerset and Northumberland are also rising up the list, being the third and fifth fastest-growing destinations for holiday let bookings this summer.

  • Year-round demand

With the first three months of 2021 spent in lockdown, Brits are keen to make the most of their annual leave between now and the end of the year.

As a result, at Sykes, we’ve seen an increase in bookings for autumn and winter, meaning holiday let owners might want to consider how their property appeals to holidaymakers in these colder months.

Properties with hot tubs, on average, earn more than 50 per cent more than those that don’t. Other stand-out features like wood burning stoves and open fires are received very well by guests and encourage bookings all year round.

It’s also worth taking photos of your property during the winter months – showing it off on a snowy winter’s day, or perhaps capturing photos of all the things you can do in the area when the weather isn’t great.

Find out more about holiday letting on the Sykes Holiday Cottages website.


Sykes Holiday Cottages is one of the UK’s leading and fastest-growing independent holiday cottage rental agencies, representing over 19,000 cottages across in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

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