The UK is preparing for a bumper summer, with 33 million people expected to enjoy staycations over the next couple of months. That should provide a welcome £30 billion boom for the domestic holiday sector, according to Sykes Holiday Cottages’ 2021 Staycation Index.
In 2019, half of Britons planned to spend their main summer holiday in the UK. In 2021, that proportion has risen to 62%, with the Peak District, Bournemouth, East Anglia and Lyme Regis among the most popular destinations.
For Quay Holidays, based in Poole, near Bournemouth, this certainly rings true, with Lettings Assistant Hannah Challis reporting that, “Most of our properties are solidly booked for the rest of the season”.
Quay Holidays is one of a rising number of UK holiday providers using 360 tours as a marketing tool. Quay is using a solution provided by 360 tour technology company Made Snappy, which is on a mission to make virtual tours more affordable and more accessible across the property sector.
Hannah Challis, Lettings Assistant, Quay Holidays, said: “We were introduced to Made Snappy last year through our residential lettings business. Colleagues had started using virtual tours for lettings and sales and we thought they offered a really exciting opportunity for our holiday letting portfolio, too!”
Hannah’s estate agency colleagues had initially tried an American virtual tour solution but abandoned it as the system was overly complicated to use and slow to compile. Made Snappy’s solution addresses both of these issues.
“A Made Snappy virtual tour is so simple to put together. Popping the camera on the tripod and connecting it to the mobile phone takes seconds. Once they are paired, you can move round a property recording each room in a matter of moments. When I get back to the office, I just upload the photos and use the programme to create the virtual tour – an average-sized property takes me no more than 15 minutes.” She said.
Quay Holidays is certainly not alone in grasping the potential of 360 tours as a holiday property marketing tool. As the staycation market has boomed, so has demand from this sector, according to Made Snappy’s Mark McCorrie.
CEO and Founder of Made Snappy, Mark McCorrie, said: “360 tours allow viewers to experience a property in a vastly different way than regular photographs do. We already work with many lettings agents and estate agents who appreciate the value.”
“We are still working through the portfolio, but we aim to have all our properties on Made Snappy as soon as we can. We have had really positive feedback from prospective guests. Many had not considered a domestic holiday for years and they were very pleasantly surprised at the quality and variety of properties when they viewed our virtual tours.
“We love to showcase our portfolio and this is the perfect medium. Having tried them, we are convinced that virtual tours are the future,” Hannah says.
For lettings agents and estate agents, the value of 360 tours lies in reducing wasted viewings and better matching potential renters and buyers with suitable properties. For holiday rental firms, the use case is slightly different, though no less beneficial, as Quay Holiday’s Hannah Challis points out: “Photographs are great, but holidaymakers know they can be manipulated to show the best angles. A virtual tour puts the prospective guest in control – they can wander through the whole property online, look out of the windows, stand in the garden and view it from every angle. This gives them greater confidence to make the booking. Ironically, it also makes our job easier too, as the more the guest can see beforehand, the less they can reasonably complain about when they arrive!”
The ups and downs created by the pandemic have been felt intensely in the holiday lettings sector. Quay Holidays managed to maintain 50% occupancy across its portfolio during lockdown by focusing on business travellers. For those properties that were unoccupied, the company took advantage of the lockdown to start building up its stock of virtual tours, photographing as many of its 90+ holiday properties.