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Staycations by the sea – a view from small businesses

3-minute read

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith

23 August 2021

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There’s been a marked rise in people holidaying in the UK with coronavirus travel restrictions limiting overseas trips. But how does this story play out for small businesses?

We spoke to Simply Business customers, from ice cream shop owners to tour guides, to find out their experience of the staycation boom.

What’s the impact of staycations on business owners?

Here are just some of the ups and downs our small business customers have experienced over the past few months as visitors flock to seaside towns and villages for their UK summer holiday.

Tour guides navigating bad weather

The idea of ‘staycation’ may conjure up a quintessential British holiday scene with deck chairs, ice cream, and sending postcards back home. However, it’s not unusual for the weather to put a dampener on things.

Rotten Ramsgate Tours in Kent, South East England, offers true crime tours that explore historical murders and the town’s link to Jack the Ripper.

The tour company’s owner, Johanne, told us how the pandemic impacted her business with many months of closure. She said now there’s an additional challenge: “People are pleased to be able to get back out to pubs, whereas last summer I didn’t have that competition.”

She added: “The threat of bad weather also does affect whether people want to book.”

Remember, it’s a good idea to do competitor analysis regularly so you know the potential businesses you’re competing with – and how to stand out to your customers.

Deck chairs on beach

A positive summer, but potential supply challenges

A Burnham-on-Sea dessert restaurant offers everything from cookie dough and waffles to American pancakes and ice cream. Just Desserts told us that, while they had to pivot their business to offering deliveries during the lockdowns, they’re hoping for a good end to the summer now they can welcome customers inside.

When it comes to navigating a busy holiday season, Just Desserts offered this advice:

“We’ve been informed by the local council that all holiday parks and homes are fully booked until October. There are supply issues on many products too, so just make sure you have stock and use different suppliers if you need to.”

Read our guide on how to do a stock take to make sure you’re on top of your inventory and get orders in as early as possible with your suppliers.

Launching a new tourism business after lockdown

Meanwhile, Rhys Schelewa-Davies only set up his own tour guide business in May this year, but is already feeling positive about how it’s going. He offers historical walks and talks around his village of Llansteffan in Wales.

On setting up Llansteffan Heritage Walks, Rhys told us: “I had to delay launching this business by a year because of the pandemic, and nearly gave up on it entirely. But, I was spurred on to get everything in place before the tourism season kicked off this year.

“Areas like Llansteffan were clearly very popular during the pandemic. Staycations were very popular here before, and seem to be even more popular now.”

Rhys also offered some helpful advice on marketing and growing a business. He said: “Holiday homes, B&Bs, hotels, shops, pubs, and other tourist venues and attractions are great for advertising with leaflets and flyers. And if they have social media pages you can get them to share posts from your own page.”

“It’s also good to liaise with other businesses in your area to see how their rate of custom has changed, and how they adapt to it. Collaborating and sharing ideas with other businesses doesn't hurt either.”

If you’re thinking about how to attract more customers, check out some of our guides on marketing and getting more Google reviews.

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Footfall challenges for ice cream shops

Luigis Gelato, an ice cream parlour based in Southsea, Portsmouth, has found business tough. Not being located as close to the beach, along with unpredictable British weather, has made it extra challenging to attract customers.

They told us: “Businesses located on seafronts have indeed sold more ice cream than usual as people aren't travelling abroad and are going to the local sea instead.

“Unfortunately, my place isn't in a good location and there’s hardly any footfall for ice cream sales. On top of this, we’ve not had much ice cream-friendly weather in the last few months with lots of rain.”

With the weather forecast looking positive for some late summer sunshine, hopefully demand for ice cream will improve. Even if you’re not in a prime spot, there are practical things you can try to increase footfall in your premises.

Are staycations here to stay?

Rhys, our tour guide customer in Wales, seems to think so. He shared: “I have a feeling that domestic tourism and staycations in this country will be much more commonplace from now on, and won’t simply stop when the pandemic eventually ends.

“So, as terrible as this pandemic is, if more small businesses can grow from these changes in the tourism sector as a result, then at least something good will have emerged from it.”

How has the staycation boom impacted your business? Share your story in the comments.

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Catriona Smith

Written by

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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