Next year’s holidaymakers are four times as likely to opt for the security of a package holiday than choose a sharing economy option, reveals research released today Monday 1 November) by WTM London.
Almost a third (32%) of those thinking about an overseas holiday in 2022 are most likely to book a package holiday, compared to 8% who will book through a sharing economy site, such as Airbnb, reveals the WTM Industry Report, which polled 1,000 UK consumers.
Holidaymakers from some parts of the country, including North Wales or the North East, say they would not book a sharing economy option at all, while those in the South West (21%), Greater London (14%) and Yorkshire and Humber (13%) are the most likely to book an Airbnb-type stay.
Sharing economy bookings soared 73% between 2013 and 2014, with PwC forecasting it could account for 50% of holiday accommodation by 2025. However, there have long been concerns in the travel industry about sharing economy regulation, with then-Chairman of ABTA, Noel Josephides, raising the issue 15 years ago.
Sharing economy accommodation providers reported surges in bookings at the beginning of the pandemic as travelers shunned hotels for private homes. But some say COVID variants have seen bookings decline lately, with Airbnb expecting weaker booking volumes and warning 2021 will remain below 2019 levels.
Meanwhile, the constant chopping and changing caused by the UK Government’s traffic light system has highlighted the benefits of booking an ATOL-protected package holiday through a reputable company, with many operators and agents changing policies to allow for more flexibility for holidaymakers who want to swap to a difference destination or date.
To counteract the drop – and to capitalize on the work-from-anywhere trend, Airbnb launched a ‘Live Anywhere on Airbnb’ initiative in June, offering a year of free stays, for users who share their experiences. It comes as the accommodation provider said stays of 28 days or more increased in the first quarter of 2021.
WTM London Exhibition Director Simon Press said: “The COVID pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on people’s choices on what type of accommodation they feel comfortable booking, with package holiday companies pushing the benefits of ATOL protection and flexible bookings, although it’s fair to say the likes of Airbnb also now offer more flexibility, should people change their minds.
“When the sharing economy was in its infancy, providers such as Airbnb brought a fresh perspective on stays, with the emphasis on independence and individuality. But hotels have caught up, focusing on less-ridged rules, such as early check-ins, late check-outs and less-stuffy communal areas.
“Also, many places where sharing economy properties do well are in very popular tourist areas where there is a shortage of traditional hotels. But, given that COVID has shut down so much of the world in the last 18 months, that’s not currently a problem.
“Finally, after months of being told to stay indoors, most of us are fed up with having to fend for ourselves, so the thought of booking a hotel where there’s a choice of new and exciting dishes, cooked by someone else, certainly appeals to those of us who just want someone else to wait on them for a couple of weeks.”