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12 travel trends to be on the lookout for in 2021

Posted: Fri, 11th Dec 2020

While there might not have been as much travelling in 2020 as we all would have liked, 2020 has still been a key year for travel developments. Priorities have shifted in consumer minds and companies are seeing a shift in behaviour – but the question is which of these changes will roll through into 2021 and beyond, and most importantly, when.

Bolthole Retreats has reflected on 2020 as a whole and compiled the 12 travel trends that we think will run into 2021, and how cottage owners can respond, and travellers may enjoy.

1. Bookings of two extremes

Gone are the days of the average lead time. While previously we would be able to estimate when consumers would book for each seasonal peak, bookings in 2020 have shown the potential guest is now of two opposing minds: booking last-minute and booking far in advance.

With regional and national restrictions moving into 2021, until we are out of the woods, consumers will feel hesitant to put their money where their dreams are. Until they know that it is okay for them to travel and can confidently commit, they will not book. Many will also be looking for the last-minute deal as well. Conversely, many are booking in advance as we all need something to look forward to, and they want to be sure they have snapped up the best property for their holiday.

2. A tight squeeze

With the booking in advance process, 2021 is already proving to be a popular year for travel. says it’s seen a big increase in enquiries for stays between January and March 2021, and we have seen bookings for summer 2021 fly off the shelves – already the school holidays are being planned for.

Many people have also been allowed to roll their holiday days into 2021, giving them more days to take off. We expect to see a rush of bookings for longer periods as people enjoy extended vacations.

3. Time to celebrate

2020 has been a year where many celebrations may not have been as enjoyed to their full – weddings, anniversaries, birthdays… putting these on hold means people want to celebrate in 2021, whether it’s a new celebration or a postponement. We expect some very special requests to come through, with add-ons of hampers and chefs and anything that may enhance that very important stay.

The mention of Christmas this year has already seen some consumers start planning for Christmas 2021, with our larger properties beginning to be booked up – because if you can’t celebrate in style this year at Christmas, hopefully you can next year.

4. In-person events

2020 was the year of the Zoom call and Microsoft Teams meeting. The creativity employed by many businesses has been incredible, but we all miss the feeling of attending an event in-person, from the Cheltenham Races to a local music concert, or even the brilliant Bath Christmas Market. Once there is confirmation that a popular event will be going ahead in 2021, even at reduced capacity, we expect demands for properties within the area to go up, as consumers make the most of their stay.

5. Man’s best friend is now everyone’s friend

We have seen enquiries for dog-friendly properties soar this year. With so many people confined to their homes in 2020, many took the opportunity to adopt a furry friend, so they could spend more time with them at home during those pivotal first few months. The Kennel Club reported that two-thirds of those who purchased a dog agreed that their dog was a ‘lifeline in lockdown’.  They are part of the family, and one could say that if a cottage isn’t suited for a dog then they aren’t suitable for a family.

6. Invite the whole family

Speaking of family, many people haven’t seen much of them in 2020. At least, not physically. With this in mind, we imagine that multi-generational holidays will see an uplift in 2021, especially with grandparents and younger children, once it is safe to do so, hopefully later on in the year.

7. Legal large groups

Many haven’t caught up with their friends, either. Being constrained from friends can take its toll, and you almost forget how to socialise! That said, we have already seen bookings for the latter half of 2021 for larger groups, with the hope that by this period we will all be able to spend time with more people. Keep an eye out for any larger sized property that may be suitable for that long overdue catch-up.

8. Experiential travel extended

Experiential travel has been the phrase for a couple years now – people want experiences, not just accommodation. With the limitations we’ve had on experiences this year, we imagine this trend will continue. This is good news to us, as we’re investing in our Cotswold Experiences next year, and aim to deliver complementing opportunities to our luxury accommodation.

9. Supporting the local

You hear this more nowadays, which we are incredibly pleased about. From local shops to even popping to your local for a drink, the awareness of supporting independents has shot up in 2020. This new mindfulness mindset is set to continue in 2021, with more people looking for those authentic people as well as experiences as part of their holiday.

10. Workations

Many have proven that they can work from home even when many companies did doubt the efficiency. Almost 47% of people in employment currently are working from home, at least in part, according to the Office for National Statistics. This has re-envisioned the way people work, and most likely, the way people holiday. We expect extended stays at properties, where guests no longer have to take time off to stay at the cottage – they can perfectly combine their work with holiday, just with a different countryside view to refresh the senses and inspire new ideas.

11. Fantastic facilities

One of the main requirements for those workations is good wifi, so regardless of how old your cottage is, it is paramount there is a fast speed for those important work calls and even more important Netflix stream sessions afterwards. Not only this, while many travellers may have viewed a self-catering property as simply a place to rest their head, spending most of their time outside and adventuring, now there is a shift in thought where sometimes the best place to be is home. Hot tubs, pools, children’s playgrounds, and a games room… all of these add value to a holiday, and ones that guests are sure to want to enjoy more.

12. Stay flexible, stay safe

Finally, but most importantly, 2020 has shown us that restrictive booking policies are outdated. There needs to be more flexibility to respond to any given situation. That said, it has also taught consumers that responsibility lies with both themselves as well as a company, with domestic travel insurance and Covid specific insurance being taken up by more travellers, to ensure they are protected and safe. This combination, where both the company and consumer work together, drives more confidence to booking that next needed holiday in 2021.

We can’t wait to welcome you to a Bolthole Retreats property next year.


After reflecting on 2020, discover the 12 travel trends that will continue into 2021, and how guests and owners can respond and enjoy accordingly. 

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