08 Oct

UK holidaymakers demanding higher-end experiences at affordable prices

  • The majority of people (55%) have stayed in four-star accommodation over the past 12 months
  • Almost one in five people (18%) booked a personalised package holiday
  • Younger travellers seeking experience-led breaks – with adventure holidays doubling in popularity since 2018

With more of the population going away this year (88% - the highest figure since 2011), UK holidaymakers are expecting more from their travel experiences, finds ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits report.

The report finds that travellers are demanding more from their holiday – whether it’s the type of trip they book, where they stay, how they travel or what they do when they’re away – without breaking the bank.

The ‘Affordable luxury’ traveller

This year, for the first time, ABTA looked at the class of travel people take and the star (or equivalent) of accommodation they stay at on holiday, which revealed holidaymakers’ high expectations for both. Staying in high end accommodation is no longer seen as a luxury but is now expected by many people – with 55% staying in four-star accommodation over the past 12 months, more than any other class of accommodation. Among young families, this figure increases to 60%. One in five people (20%) stayed in five-star accommodation – rising to nearly one in four (24%) of 25-34 year olds and those aged 75 or over. 

Holidaymakers are also taking advantage of the increasing availability of higher standards of travel. More than a third of people (37%) travelled via premium economy or a higher class in the past year – with 25-34 year olds, once more, proving to be the most selective (48%). Families (with younger and older children) are almost equally as keen on travelling premium economy or higher (47%).

Holidaymakers are also making the most of ‘little luxuries’ to make their pre-holiday experience more special – using services such as luggage delivery drop offs to and from the airport, chauffeur driven car transfers and premium airport lounges.

The rise of the personalised package 

Booking a package is a popular way to ensure value for money1, and people are demanding more from their package holiday.   
Feedback from ABTA Members has shown an increasing appetite for more personalised and tailor-made holidays and ABTA’s latest research confirms this. While the majority of people chose a ready-made package (64%), a growing number are seeking to personalise their holiday – such as upgrading transfers, choosing a specific room and even booking their preferred sun lounger. Almost one in five people (18%) booked this type of holiday in 2018, rising to more than a quarter (27%) of 25-34 year olds.

In addition, almost one in 10 people (9%) went a step further and opted for a tailor-made package, allowing them to have a holiday bespoke to their requirements while still enjoying the full benefits and protection provided by a package.

Generation explorer

Whilst classic holiday types, such as beach breaks, are still very popular, the report finds that people are diversifying their choices and increasingly looking to invest their time and money in experience-led breaks – which is particularly the case for those aged under 35. 

Lakes and Mountain trips are showing growth (11% vs 8% in 2018) and almost one in ten people (7%) went either camping or ‘off the beaten track’ this year – both of which are new categories – with the former rising to 11% among 25-34 year olds. Adventure holidays have also seen an increase in popularity with 18-24 year olds – 13% took one this year compared to 6% in 2018, indicating that people’s appetite for adventure and different types of experience on holiday is growing.  

Increased availability of affordable flights and more fuel-efficient aircraft have put long-haul trips within reach of more UK travellers in the past few years – and the research supports this trend.  There has been a 13% increase in the number of 18-34 year olds visiting Asia this year (32%, up from 19% in 2018) and nearly twice as many 25-34 year olds visited South America this year, 13% up from 7%. There was also a notable increase in the number of 18-24 year olds travelling to North America and Africa, up 11% and 5% respectively2.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: 
“Holidaymakers tastes are evolving, as are their expectations. 

“The travel industry is continually adapting to the changing expectations of customers; whether it’s tour operators expanding their hotel offering to suit differing tastes, providing affordable luxury holiday destinations or offering great value flight upgrades.”

Holidaymakers who have booked with an ABTA Member will have access to the support, protection and expertise provided by ABTA so people can travel with confidence. You can find an ABTA Member by visiting abta.com/findamember.


For further information, contact:
ABTA press office, press@abta.co.uk or 020 3117 0596
Sean Tipton, Senior Media Relations Manager, tel: 020 3117 0513
Out of Hours:  Contact the Duty Press Officer via landline: 020 3693 0183
Web: www.abta.com
Twitter: @ABTAtravel

Notes to editors
52% of respondents said “Best value option for price” was the reason they booked a package holiday
North America: 11% in 2018 vs 22% in 2019. Africa: 6% in 2018 vs 11% in 2019. 

The full report is available to download from abta.com/holidayhabits2019.

Consumer research was conducted by The Nursery Research and Planning (formerly Arkenford, specialists in leisure and tourism research) https://www.the-nursery.net/. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 2,043 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2019. Fieldwork was conducted in July 2019.

ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for over 65 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers travel with confidence. 
The ABTA brand stands for support, protection and expertise. This means consumers have confidence in ABTA and a strong trust in ABTA Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members. 

We help our Members and their customers navigate through today's changing travel landscape by raising standards in the industry; offering schemes of financial protection; providing an independent complaints resolution service should something go wrong; giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

ABTA has more than 4,300 travel brands in Membership, providing a wide range of leisure and business travel services, with a combined annual UK turnover of £39 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member means and how we help the British public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com.