A renowned hospitality consultant has welcomed one hotel group’s efforts to promote staycations and encourage people to book UK breaks – after getting the seal of approval from his son, Leo.
James Bland, board director at BVA BDRC, has been impressed with the investment of Focus Hotels into creating some eye-catching maps on new dedicated staycation pages on the websites of several of its hotels.
The maps highlight in a very visual way the wide range of activities and attractions available within easy range if using one of the hotels as a base.
James said: “For about a year, Leo has been fascinated by all things connected with history, and among his collection of books are a number with beautifully-illustrated maps telling the stories of long-lost empires and various wonders of the ancient world.
“When I first saw the maps Focus Hotels had commissioned, the style reminded me of some of these books, and before I knew too much about it, I’d spent about half an hour looking through them all.
“It occurred to me that Leo, who is five-years-old, would like them, too, so at the end of the day we sat together looking through them, picking out the animals.
“Leo was keen to add his own ‘mark-up’ to the maps, showing which of his ‘Horrible Histories’ books was most appropriate to each area on the map, which gave us a chance to talk about the different locations.
“The maps are a great way to present a lot of data in a way that is efficient and engaging. How better to illustrate proximity to local attractions and, by extension, associate that proximity with your property?
“They’re great for a family which is planning a staycation as well as a planning resource and a really good way to involve children in that process.
“As well as benefiting the hotels, of course, they could very well act as a useful tool to promote the featured attractions, particularly if framed alongside some sort of incentive or challenge to visit as many as possible.
“That they are so eye-catching, too, is an added benefit.”
He added: “Staycations, then, have never been as critical to the UK hotel sector as they are now.
“BVA BDRC estimates that 122 million hotel room nights were spent overseas by British travellers in 2019, which means there remains an opportunity for UK hotels, as long as they can coax domestic travellers to get out and about.
“Part of that will be convincing them that staying in a hotel is safe, and that properties are clean.
“When the time comes when every hotel is considered both clean and safe, in order to stand out from competitors, they’re gong to have to again focus on winning business through superior service and appealing packages.
“This investment from Focus into creating dedicated staycation pages with these highly-visual and engaging maps is an excellent way to encourage people to take staycation.”
From historic houses and castles to theme parks and days out, from garden parks and walks to shopping and activity breaks, the Focus Hotels maps feature is something for everyone from young couples and families, to retired people.
Many of the hotels are also offering Staycation Special deals, too.
Peter Cashman, Chief Executive Officer of Focus Hotels, said: “There’s no doubt that, as the lockdown restrictions eased, people have been more confident booking staycations instead of travelling further afield.
“We quickly recognised this and wanted to do something to make it even easier for people to choose a staycation, so we invested in creating these dedicated pages on our website.
“It’s heartening to receive such positive feedback from a recognised and respected person like James, who is a well-known and sought-after industry speaker and consultant.
“The fact he has had such enjoyment with his son Leo in exploring the maps is exactly the kind of engagement we were hoping for, and I hope that many more families get to discover some long-lost, hidden or forgotten treasures in the UK.
“And, of course, we hope they will choose to visit those attractions, using one of our hotels as a base, providing a much-needed boost to the hospitality sector.”
There are new Staycation sections on the websites of the Hotel Colessio in Stirling; Albrighton Hall Hotel & Spa, near Shrewsbury; the Swan’s Nest Hotel at Stratford-upon-Avon; Hatfield Oak Hotel in Hertfordshire; Sketchley Grange Hotel & Spa in Leicestershire and the Oxford Witney Hotel on the edge of the Cotswolds.