A Consumer Demand-Side Perspective for the Hospitality Sector in the UK

Main Photo: The weekly report produced by BVA BDRC, available to THPT subscribers

Date: April 2020

Location: UK HQ, with 170 staff in offices in London, Washington DC, Singapore, Beijing, Jakarta, Sydney and Cape Town. With BVA, the combined organisation has close on to 1,000 staff, revenues of over €185m and 20 offices in 11 countries, with a strong global reach.

Who: Dr Crispian Tarrant, Chief Executive, BVA BDRC…..Cris has been engaged with the hospitality sector for more than 30 years providing a consumer perspective on the industry. As well as measuring the nature of demand and the changing dynamics of the customer journey, much of his professional work has been concerned with the development of hotel brands and their influence in the industry.

What Are They Doing: During the coronavirus pandemic BVA BDRC is undertaking a weekly UK tracker of consumer sentiment, with a focus on the travel, leisure and hospitality sectors.

His Thoughts: The mood of the nation has lifted for a third consecutive week. There is a real sense the country is getting through this crisis from the latest BVA BDRC consumer sentiment survey data collected 20th – 22nd April. But, expectations for when we will travel again are being pushed back, at the realisation that social distancing regulations are likely to be in force for many months to come.

– Confidence in HM Government’s handling of the crisis remains broadly unchanged, with almost two thirds confident and rather over a third not confident
– While there may still be a long way to go, only 2 in 5 now think the worst is still to come in the coronavirus crisis, down from 4 in 5 just two weeks ago in the run up to Easter. More commonly (44%) people think things will stay the same for now, recognising we are at the plateau phase of the curve, but already nearly 1 in 5 believe the worst has now passed.
– With talk of when the lockdown may be eased, thoughts are turning to when life will return to normal. But here expectations of a swift recovery are receding. Only 1 in 3 think this will be by August, with 3 in 4 now saying not until the final quarter of the year. This pessimism is particularly apparent in the devolved countries of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
– So, the prospects for leisure holiday demand this summer have weakened, certainly for international travel, although domestic travel is seen as more likely to be possible. Fewer people are planning to proceed with current bookings and more are expecting to postpone or cancel them.
– As a consequence holiday planning and booking horizons are being pushed out to around 6 months from now. Accordingly we can foresee considerable demand from UK consumers for winter sun holidays in the 2020/21 season.
– That said, nearly 1 in 4 say they will not use a plane again until a vaccine has been developed. Just 1 in 12 are prepared to return to flying with no operational changes being made, while for a clear majority there is an expectation for at least one of several measures to be implemented before they will do so, ranging from deep cleansing of planes and airports, through the use of face masks, to covid-19 testing before boarding a flight. Women are noticeably more demanding than men of such procedures being put in place.
– For hotel stays, flights, train journeys, as well as visitor attractions, the picture is as described above for holidays, with decision horizons being pushed out again, so raising more questions over the viability of the summer leisure-led season.

Dr Cris Tarrant- The free to download wave 5 report will be published towards the end of the day on Friday 24th April

THPT Comment: Cris is well respected spectator on the ins and outs of the UK hotel industry. He founded BDRC in 1991 as a market research and advisory group and invited the French BVA group to come in as majority shareholder in 2018.

Download the Report: from BVA BDRC direct, free of charge

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