In recent years, the UK online travel industry has continued to grow despite the economic headwinds. While it’s definitely the case that budgets are stretched, we’ve seen that consumers consider holidays to be a necessity rather than a luxury. Research from TravelSupermarket found that, on average, Brits are planning to take three holidays this year. Travel companies which have thrived in this period have done so by combining a value message along with standard holiday marketing.

The Online Consumer

To keep up with the constantly evolving digital landscape, OTAs are continually evaluating the best way to win over time-stretched, money conscious budding holidaymakers. A survey by One Poll found that a huge 77% of travellers are booking their trips online and leading travel agents are catching on to this by extending their online offering.

Holidays for many, will be one of the most expensive purchases of the year and, at Secret Escapes, a members-only travel club specialising in flash sales for luxury hotels and holidays, we try to make the experience exciting and enjoyable, while also focussing on the basics of a clear and usable website and app.

By curating a selection of hand-picked hotels and holidays, and delivering them straight to our members’ inboxes, mobiles or tablets at discounted rates, we’ve tried to make the process as stress-free as possible. Modern-day, online consumers are savvy and conscientious, so by including links to useful tools such as TripAdvisor, as well as a detailed breakdown of our discounts, we try to be as transparent as possible, something which is often lacking in the online marketplace. It’s important to us that when a member sees one of our deals, they know that they are looking at a price that cannot be beaten anywhere else online. If you can’t make that promise, then you’re at risk of losing the booking to comparison shopping.

As well as getting savvier, consumers are getting more adventurous, both with destinations and activities. Looking to add more of a personal touch, consumers turn to online channels to research and organise added extras, from safari drives and diving courses to spa treatments and afternoon teas.

The online nature of sourcing information and social media has also made consumers more aware of celebrity holidaying activity. From Instagram posts to gossip column snaps, celebrity influence is thriving, sparking a surge in luxury travel.

In the Lap of Luxury

The competitive nature of the travel industry has resulted in consumers breaking into the now affordable luxury market by booking more four and five-star holidays than ever before.

While the travel industry is thriving, even the most luxurious hotels will still benefit from being able to drive incremental bookings. At Secret Escapes, we negotiate up to 70% off the price of these spare rooms to generate revenue that would have otherwise been missed.

The travel industry has had to grow rapidly in order to keep up with changing consumer behaviour, particularly as voucher codes and daily deal websites such as Groupon have transformed consumer expectation of value, not only within travel but also the dining and entertainment industries. We felt that by combining the flash sales model and a luxury inventory that’s accessible from spare hotel rooms, we could satisfy consumer’s needs for variety, choice, affordability and hassle-free travel.

Secret Escapes

We started Secret Escapes in 2011, and have experienced a fantastic year-on-year growth of 260%. We have grown from a small start-up to a global business that provides an essential tool for hotel managers and holiday suppliers, allowing them to make revenue on their unsold rooms.

In the last year alone, we have expanded our offices across the world, opening our doors across Europe and the US and have many more planned for the future.

The online travel sector has demonstrated an adaptive approach, by evolving online platforms, expanding portfolios to consumer research and developing mobile apps to access new markets and create a streamlined process when booking a holiday online.

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