Pitchup.com, the outdoor accommodation booking platform, has identified some insightful – as well as some surprising – post-pandemic camping habits following a detailed analysis from over 24 million users and more than 32 million visits to its website.
Founded by former lastminute.com man Dan Yates, the multi-award-winning website boasts more than 5,600 outdoor accommodation options in 67 countries. Providing users with a simple platform where they can search for and book a holiday with ease, since its creation, the platform has handled £250 million worth of bookings and over 25 million bednights, with 664,000 pitches bookable since 2019.
The ongoing enthusiasm for outdoor-centric holidays resulted in a record-breaking 2m holidaymakers enjoying the variety of fantastic camping and glamping sites available on Pitchup.com in 2022. Bookings on the platform are up a further 46pc so far in February compared to the same period last year.
Diving deep into the platform’s booking statistics, the Pitchup.com experts noticed a number of trends for the New Year.
Bold booking habits
Holidaymakers are booking last-minute breaks, with the average lead time falling by 15pc in 2022 compared to the previous year – likely due to less concern about domestic accommodation availability as international travel options opened up further post-pandemic.
International travellers explore the Great British Outdoors
Pitchup.com also noticed a surprising peak in inbound interest in outdoor accommodation, with a rise of 58pc in non-domestic UK bookings. Perhaps a desire for space and greenery combined with the cost of living crisis has caused international visitors to tighten their purse strings and think about the penny power a camping or caravan pitch provides. Non-domestic transactions for UK sites have increased a further 144pc so far this year compared to 2022, early signs that this trend is set for further growth.
Cold weather campers are on the rise
The season is also extending, with UK winter arrivals for December 21, 2022, to March 20, 2023, up 118pc compared to 2019/20 and up nearly 30pc compared to 2021/22. Although the sample size is small, this year’s bookings for next winter are already up 226pc compared to the same time last year, pointing to an enduring behavioural shift.
While almost all destinations have seen bookings grow significantly when comparing 2019 to 2022 (even lesser-visited destinations are up almost 100pc), those with high growth include Cumbria, Hampshire and Powys, while Cornwall, Devon and Somerset all saw lower growth rates.
Emerging areas that saw a huge growth spurt year-on-year include East Yorkshire (409pc rise), Oxfordshire (353pc rise) and Staffordshire (499pc rise).
Founder Yates attributes this sharper rise in locations close to major conurbations to travellers holidaying closer to home, perhaps in part due to rising fuel costs. Ongoing publicity about over-tourism whilst international travel slowly returned could also be causing Brits to consider new, less crowded places.
With 5.4 million pets acquired during Covid lockdowns, it’s perhaps not so surprising to see 48pc more searches for pooch-friendly pitches in 2022 than before the pandemic and up a further 5pc so far this year. Who doesn’t love a bit of cam-puppy-ing…?
A budding roe-mance for fish also emerged, with a 99pc increase in those hunting for a site that offered fishing, with a further 7pc increase so far this year.
Post-pandemic preferences – the rising status of camping
One of the most significant changes witnessed by Pitchup.com is how camping has evolved in the eye of the beholder, with a significant increase in new campers. It could be the mental health benefits of outdoor accommodation or perhaps the lack of ability to travel traditionally, but camping is attracting a new type of customer.
Pitchup.com saw a 66pc increase in searches for four-star quality, while family camping fell from favour with a decrease of 32pc in searches for family-appropriate sites. In 2019, 41% of Pitchup.com’s bookings included children, but now two-thirds of bookings are just for adults – perhaps reflecting a new cohort of camping couples who discovered a love of the outdoors during the pandemic.
Dan Yates attributes these changes in searches to a clear transition as holidaymakers, who would have historically travelled abroad or stayed in hotels, are looking for alternate forms of short breaks – a trend that was created during the lockdown’s, but has endured post-pandemic.
Eco-conscious holidaymakers are keen to do their bit
As public awareness around the increasingly critical state of the environment continues to rise, searches show greater interest in local produce (149pc up y-o-y) and pick up from public transport (up 288pc), while many holidaymakers are shunning trips that create excess carbon.
Outdoor accommodation offers a 90 per cent reduction in emissions compared to an equivalent holiday abroad, with ’embedded carbon’ in campsite construction a fraction of that in built accommodation. Furthermore, campers tend to engage in more activities that have a low impact on the environment, such as walking, cycling or canoeing.
Meanwhile, recent research by Bain found that a growing number of consumers say that environmental, social or governance (ESG) issues are among their buying criteria, with 14% reporting that it is their top criterion.
Dan Yates, the founder of Pitchup.com, concludes, “Pitchup.com has continued to see steady growth throughout 2022, and we expect this to continue well into 2023, with Brits recognising the many advantages outdoor accommodation offers, such as outstanding value, a low environmental impact and mental health benefits.
“There have been some major changes in the way people travel over the last couple of years, but the popularity of outdoor holidays continues to grow in new and exciting ways that are beneficial for both holidaymakers as well as the local economy. We are already seeing this growth continue into 2023 as many recognise that outdoor accommodation can offer a cost-effective alternative to other types of accommodation when looking for those all-important breaks.”
All comparative data is for 2019 compared to 2022, year to date, unless otherwise stated.
Founded in 2009 by former lastminute.com man Dan Yates, multi-award-winning Pitchup.com lists 5,648 outdoor accommodation locations in 67 countries in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, including an average of 2,369 live UK sites.
Providing 24 million annual users with a simple platform where they can easily search for and book a holiday. Since its creation, the platform has handled £250 million in bookings and over 25 million ‘bednights’, with 4.8 million holiday nights taken in the last twelve months alone.
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