Spontaneous travel & leisure boosts UK economy by £26billion

15th Jan 2014
Spontaneous travel & leisure boosts UK economy by £26billion

Britons spontaneous travel and leisure appetite boosts the UK economy by an extra £26.1bn annually, a new report by lastminute.com reveals today. In fact, it’s never been easier than today to be spontaneous with an explosion of choice, a rapid evolution of technology and smartphones making deals constantly accessible. But still the UK is missing out on a further £8.2bn in spontaneous spending. Because the travel and leisure industry has not yet fully understood and embraced evolving spontaneous customer needs and many Brits are being put-off spontaneity by a range of barriers, as the lastminute.com report found out.

‘Spontaneity: The Behaviour That Means Business’ is the first and biggest of its kind, based on representative research with over 2,200 Brits, insights from the travel and leisure industry, and analysis by Dr Ben Voyer, a leading psychologist at the London School of Economics, as well as BDRC Continental, the UK’s largest independent market research consultancy.

British spontaneous travel and leisure behaviour measured for the first time
·      The British stiff upper lip has officially softened: one in three (17 million of us) have a truly spontaneous personality type.
·      A third of British travel and leisure spend is spontaneous: of the 5.62 annual holidays and short breaks they take, 2.13 were booked less than three weeks before departure. And out of every £3 spent last year by Brits on travel and leisure £1 went to spontaneous trips and outings (£1,933 out of £6,073).
·      Britons are hungry for more spontaneous travel: Every third Brit (31%) would like to book more short breaks and nearly one in four (24%) would like to more holidays at the last minute if there were fewer barriers to spontaneous travel.

Mobile technologies fuel last minute demand
Mobile technologies and an explosion of choice are one of the biggest drivers fuelling demand for last minute escapades. Over the last two years, lastminute.com has seen hotel and flight bookings grow significantly via smartphone, and booking windows steadily decrease: in 2013, 38% of our UK hotel bookings were made on the day of check-in and 40% of flights booked via mobile were for travel up to three days before take-off. This trend is only set to continue.  Come 2017, lastminute.com predicts the vast majority of its hotel bookings to come via smartphone for reservations within a 24 hour booking window.  For flights, it predicts smartphone bookings to more than double for travel within a 48 hour booking window. However, the research also found that the travel and leisure industry often prefers last minute bookings to be an occasional affair rather than a lifelong marriage.

Matthew Crummack, CEO of lastminute.com, comments: “In August 2013 almost every fifth (17%) seat on a plane that left Heathrow was empty, that’s the equivalent of an estimated 110 aircraft unfilled each day.  Last year, almost one in four (24%) hotel rooms in the UK lay unoccupied and one in three (31%) West End theatre seats went unsold.  Match this with mobile technologies fuelling last minute demand, a growing consumer appetite for travel and leisure at short notice and it is evident the travel industry needs to take greater advantage of available technology to improve revenue and yield management strategies. Every business and individual in the travel space must do their bit to tackle the barriers that limit customer spontaneity“.


The top 5 barriers to spontaneous travel and leisure in the UK
The lastminute.com research revealed external barriers preventing Brits from acting on a whim were mainly to do with financial restraints and workplace restrictions, but the travel industry is guilty of building up some pretty hefty hurdles for its customers as well:
1.    Not enough cash: three out of five Brits (60%) are being held back by the cost of living from going away spontaneously and almost as many (57%) need to save their hard-earned pennies. 53% of us are worried about spending because of the state of the economy.
2.    Travel’s too pricey: 56% in this country find that high cost of flights at short notice are a spontaneity barrier, 63% are being stopped by the high cost of accommodation, and for nearly seven out of ten parents (68%) it’s the high cost of going away during school holidays (48% for those without kids).
3.    Work gets in the way: Over two out of five (41%) Brits say they are just not able to take annual leave at short notice. And 38% have to work around colleagues’ holiday plans.
4.    We can’t decide (and when we can it’s too complicated): 30% simply can’t decide what to do, 29% don’t have enough time to search for information and 34% struggle to make a decision due to information overload.
5.    We don’t trust mobile bookings: Mobile technology is a spontaneity enabler, but still 32% of Brits lack trust in booking on mobiles.

Matthew Crummack said: “While it’s encouraging to see the boost spontaneous behaviour provides the UK economy, it is concerning that there is still a huge amount of potential not being realised. This research has given us invaluable insights to share with industry partners around the barriers, triggers and evolving expectations and demand for spontaneous travel and leisure. We want to work with the industry to help make spontaneous decision-making easier, which is why today we’re unveiling our manifesto for a more spontaneous Britain.”

lastminute.com unveils ‘Manifesto for a more spontaneous Britain’
We’ve got a ‘spontaneity plan’ which will have an impact on every part of lastminute.com’s UK arm over the next three years.  The plan means that by 2017 lastminute.com UK will:
1.    Challenge the travel industry to respond to spontaneous Brits’ changing expectations.
We’ll be working with our partners to help them be more flexible with their prices and availability. So it’ll be easier for customers to make spontaneous choices.
2.    Set new standards in the last minute mobile booking window.
By working with our customers and partners to increase trust in the technology. And make sure people using their mobiles to book can get the deals they want.
3.    Help customers live more spontaneous lifestyles by challenging and rewarding them.
We’ll encourage our customers to share their experiences, stories and inspiration on our spontaneity channels.

Matthew Crummack concluded: “Today only a fraction of spontaneous opportunities are easy to find, afford and book.  And because spontaneity is our business, we’re on a mission to work with our partners, suppliers and customers to change that and make spontaneity more accessible and simply more fun.  Our pledge is that wherever and whenever Brits feel like being spontaneous, lastminute.com will be here to help make it happen.”


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