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Market Insights from 'Around the Globe' UK Event

By Walt Wang 06/28/2021

The second installment of the “Around the Globe” series focused on the U.K., a key overseas market for California. The event included a DMO networking session and virtual FAM that featured Los Angeles, Huntington Beach and SLO CAL. An Outlook Forum Plus webinar featured market insights from U.K. market experts.

The webinar was conducted on June 9, which coincided with the forming of U.S.-U.K. Travel Corridor Taskforce — a step in a positive direction towards border reopening. Guest speakers presented the latest trends and information of U.K.’s consumer sentiment, media landscape, airlines and travel trade in front of 90 industry partners.

View all past Outlook Forum Plus webinars

Guest speakers:

U.K. Questions Answered
Below are panelist answers to questions asked by the California tourism industry members in attendance:

Q: How should a California destination get noticed in the UK?
A: Education with the trade and highlighting through the press is key. The consensus is U.K. travelers are looking for the familiar when planning for California travel broadly speaking, but are also interested in discovering lesser known aspects and regions. This is where the smaller destinations can play a big part. But destinations need to drive awareness and education across the market through trade and earned media to be noticed at all.

Q: Do you suggest, with our awareness campaigns, that we promote our attractions and experiences with guests NOT wearing masks or social distancing?  Or do you think people will still want to see Covid safety measures in place?
A: Overall no masks is what consumers want to see. They see their trip as an escape from the day to day, so the reminder of these less pleasant realities may be off putting. Consumers want to see the destination open and thriving, not under restrictions.

Q: Any insight on what is driving U.K. consumer preference for California over New York and Florida?
A: Visit California looked at a net of destinations in California and Florida and found that the abundance of travel options in the state are a draw. It’s something the organization will also measure when Visit California launches tracking in the U.K. this month.

Q: Does the panel think there will only be a demand for destinations with direct flights only — i.e., there won't be an appetite to visit destinations where they would need to connect?
A: Simplicity will be king. People want to reduce complexity and there will be more demand with direct service. Where direct capacity is will be key to first recover. With this being said, capacity will be an issue, so people may be more likely to connect if they have too. When confidence grows, there will likely be an increase in demand in connecting flights.

Networking takeaways
Each “Around the Globe” stop also features a networking session for California DMOs and a virtual FAM trip in California for each of the featured international markets.

In the U.K. DMO networking session, 20 California DMOs were grouped into five breakout rooms and connected with 5 U.K. tour operators. The event helped California DMOs reconnect with the major tour operators in U.K. and prepare for their own market re-entry in the near future.

Below are the key market insights and takeaways from the U.K. tour operators who participated DMO networking:

 

California Travel

Overall U.S. Travel

U.K. Travel Trade market

“Around the Globe” will touch down in Canada in August as the country moves toward its reopening milestone of a 75% first-dose vaccination rate.

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