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UK Short and City Breaks market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Short and City Breaks market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this Report

Short and city breaks refer to overnight trips of one to three nights made for leisure purposes. Short breaks for the purpose of visiting friends and family, business or other purposes are excluded. Data on the size of the domestic market is for Great Britain rather than the United Kingdom (ie Northern Ireland is not included), sourced from GBTS (Great Britain Tourism Survey). Data for the overseas market is for the United Kingdom, sourced from IPS (International Passenger Survey).

What you need to know

The total number of short breaks taken by UK consumers increased by 6.5% in 2017, reaching an estimated 46.4 million trips. Expenditure grew by a similar amount to reach an estimated £9.8 billion (not including overseas transport costs). The market has now achieved a record level of trips, both domestic and overseas.

Mintel expects short breaks to increase at a faster pace than longer holidays over the next five years. Short breaks are a high priority for more affluent consumers. Those on tighter budgets are seeking to control their spending by reducing the length of their trips away. There is also an emerging pattern of younger people taking shorter but more frequent holidays. These positive expectations include a caveat of considerable economic uncertainty due to volatile oil prices and the run-up to Brexit and beyond.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by John Worthington, a leading analyst in the Tourism sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

There is growing potential for ‘me-time’ holidays that allow travellers to pursue their personal interests. These could be trips that enable those in couples to have a short break away from their partner or family in the company of friends, or even by themselves. John Worthington
Senior Tourism Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • Short breaks reach record high
            • Figure 1: Domestic short break market volume forecast, 2013-23
            • Figure 2: Overseas short break market volume forecast, 2013-23
          • City breaks dominate
            • Figure 3: Type of UK and overseas short breaks taken, May 2018
          • OTAs take 50% share of overseas short break market
            • Figure 4: How last short break was booked, May 2018
          • Millennial bargain hunters
            • Figure 5: Consumer behaviour on short breaks, May 2018
          • Off the radar
            • Figure 6: Short break preferences and interests, May 2018
          • What we think
          • Issues and Insights

            • Short break portfolios
              • The facts
                • The implications
                  • Rising potential of event breaks
                    • The facts
                      • The implications
                        • Multi-generational breaks
                          • The facts
                            • The implications
                              • Work/play packages
                                • The facts
                                  • The implications
                                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                    • New records for one- to three-night breaks
                                      • Growth trend is upwards but Brexit and oil price pose threats
                                        • South West/North West most popular UK short break regions
                                          • Surge in short breaks to Spain
                                            • Short breaks abroad take flight…
                                              • …but rising oil price could ground overseas growth
                                                • Consumers factor in costs as local prices increase for second year
                                                • Market Size and Forecast

                                                  • Record 46.4 million short breaks in 2017
                                                    • Figure 7: Total short breaks (1-3 nights) taken by UK residents, by volume and value*, 2013-23
                                                  • Domestic short breaks exceed ‘staycation year’ of 2009
                                                    • Figure 8: Domestic short breaks (1-3 nights) taken by UK residents, by volume and value, 2013-23
                                                  • Overseas short break numbers up 49% in past four years
                                                    • Figure 9: Overseas short breaks (1-3 nights) taken by UK residents, by volume and value, 2013-23
                                                  • Cost cutting and ‘little and often’ trend likely to drive further growth…
                                                    • …but short breaks remain vulnerable to economic shocks
                                                      • Figure 10: Total short break market volume forecast, 2013-23
                                                      • Figure 11: Total short break market value* forecast, 2013-23
                                                      • Figure 12: Domestic short break market volume forecast, 2013-23
                                                      • Figure 13: Domestic short break market value* forecast, 2013-23
                                                      • Figure 14: Overseas short break market volume forecast, 2013-23
                                                      • Figure 15: Overseas short break market value* forecast, 2013-23
                                                  • Segment Performance

                                                    • Hoseasons reports rise in UK ‘snacking’ breaks
                                                      • Figure 16: Estimated number of domestic (1-3 nights) short breaks, by region, 2017
                                                    • Spain poised to overtake France as most popular overseas destination
                                                      • Rising demand for short breaks beyond the eurozone
                                                        • Figure 17: Top 10 countries for short breaks (1-3 nights) abroad, by volume, 2014-17
                                                      • Aviation rise marks shift in short break habits
                                                        • New Amsterdam service should boost breaks via Tunnel
                                                          • Figure 18: Number of short breaks (1-3 nights) abroad, by mode of travel, 2013-17
                                                      • Market Background

                                                        • Economic outlook remains highly uncertain
                                                          • Figure 19: UK average weekly earnings (excluding bonuses)* vs CPI inflation, percentage change year on year, January 2014-April 2018
                                                        • Consumer debt has helped sustain travel market
                                                          • Figure 20: UK annual growth rate in outstanding credit card debt, January 2015-April 2018
                                                        • Pound still weak but has stabilised over past 12 months
                                                          • Figure 21: Spot exchange rate, Pound Sterling versus selected ‘short & city break’ currencies, June 2016-June 2018
                                                        • Further sharp price increases in leading city break destinations
                                                          • Figure 22: City break costs*, 2016-18
                                                        • New oil price fears
                                                            • Figure 23: Average annual European Brent Crude oil prices 2013-17, and average monthly prices, January- May 2018
                                                            • Figure 24: Petrol costs (unleaded 95 octane), January 2014-May 2018
                                                          • Volume growth is increasing pressure on honeypot cities
                                                          • Launch Activity and New Product Development

                                                            • Foodie breaks and language learning
                                                              • Disneyland Paris tapping into wellness trend
                                                                • Time travel
                                                                  • Lure of the live
                                                                    • Surprise city breaks
                                                                      • Alternatives to the city
                                                                        • Lean, green and minimalist
                                                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                          • Short breakers take two annual trips on average
                                                                            • Around half of short breakers visit cities
                                                                              • Luxury breaks taken by more than one in 10
                                                                                • OTAs and budget airlines take lion’s share of overseas bookings
                                                                                  • One in four overseas short breakers use Airbnb
                                                                                    • Younger short breakers focusing on cost cutting
                                                                                      • Boom time for short breaks but risks loom
                                                                                        • Hobby breaks have strong appeal to time-poor consumers
                                                                                          • ‘Undiscovered’ cities offer novelty and social kudos
                                                                                          • Short Break Taking

                                                                                            • A third of Londoners take overseas short breaks
                                                                                              • Figure 25: Short break taking, UK versus abroad, May 2018
                                                                                            • Boomers are the most frequent UK short breakers
                                                                                              • Figure 26: Number of UK short breaks taken, May 2018
                                                                                            • Professional Millennials are the most frequent overseas short breakers
                                                                                              • Figure 27: Number of overseas short breaks taken, May 2018
                                                                                          • Types of Short Break

                                                                                            • Cities suit active short break preferences
                                                                                              • Overseas rural breaks under-developed
                                                                                                • Growing short break trend offers scope for diversification
                                                                                                  • Figure 28: Type of UK and overseas short breaks taken, May 2018
                                                                                              • Short Break Booking

                                                                                                • Travel trade can compete in city break market with added-value trips
                                                                                                    • Figure 29: How last UK and overseas short break was booked, May 2018
                                                                                                • Short Break Behaviours and Opportunities

                                                                                                  • Last-minute deal hunters
                                                                                                    • Bargain destination seekers
                                                                                                      • Security-conscious short breakers
                                                                                                        • Impact of Airbnb
                                                                                                          • Mobile apps for exploring the city
                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Consumer behaviour on short breaks, May 2018
                                                                                                          • Going with friends
                                                                                                            • Short and solo
                                                                                                              • Special-occasion breaks
                                                                                                                • Event tourism and short breaks
                                                                                                                  • Multi-generation breaks
                                                                                                                    • Business before pleasure
                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Short break purposes and companions, May 2018
                                                                                                                    • Tourist versus traveller
                                                                                                                      • Figure 32: City break preferred travel style, May 2018
                                                                                                                  • Short Break Attitudes and Further Opportunities

                                                                                                                    • Short breaks are more vulnerable than longer holidays
                                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Preferences for short breaks versus longer holidays, May 2018
                                                                                                                    • Preference for short breaks versus longer holidays
                                                                                                                        • Figure 34: Agreement with statement ‘I'd prefer to take a number of regular short breaks than one or two longer holidays each year’, by generational group, May 2018
                                                                                                                      • Domestic market well suited to micro-break trend
                                                                                                                        • Figure 35: Agreement with statement ‘I could fit short breaks better around my work commitments than longer holidays’, by generational group, May 2018
                                                                                                                      • Solo travellers prefer ‘little and often’ holiday pattern
                                                                                                                        • Figure 36: Target group for more regular short breaks – CHAID – Tree output, May 2018
                                                                                                                      • Special-interest short breaks have potential
                                                                                                                        • Short breaks can spark a new career direction
                                                                                                                          • Converting generic bucket lists into personalised wish-lists
                                                                                                                            • Attractions of lesser-known cities
                                                                                                                              • Figure 37: Further short break preferences and interests, May 2018
                                                                                                                            • Designing a short break programme
                                                                                                                              • Figure 38: Agreement with statement ‘I'd be interested in using a company that designed a programme of short breaks for me (eg a variety of several breaks a year)’, by generational group, May 2018
                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                            • Definitions
                                                                                                                              • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                  • CHAID methodology
                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                      • Figure 39: Domestic short breaks (1-3 nights) taken by UK residents, volume forecast, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 40: Domestic short breaks (1-3 nights) taken by UK residents, value* forecast, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 41: Overseas short breaks (1-3 nights) taken by UK residents, volume forecast, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 42: Overseas short breaks (1-3 nights) taken by UK residents, value* forecast, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                    • Forecast methodology