Scottish hospitality trends in 2023

…and what 2024 has in store

As 2023 draws to a close, we’ve seen many changes and developments in the Scottish hospitality industry over the year. Hospitality trends we have noticed include a rise in the need for digital marketing strategies to get businesses seen online, a rise in the number of people working whilst abroad and a definite increase in the number of people looking for eco holidays.

Here’s a rundown of what we’ve seen – and where we think 2024 will take us.

Travelling is happening again

After lockdowns and restrictions, we’re delighted that 2023 saw people travel in huge numbers around the world and here to Scotland. We saw a large rise in travellers from the USA as well as from across Europe. European travel had been weak since Brexit, but people are starting to come back to the UK from all across the continent again. 

A aptop and mobile phone on a hotel bed with a suitcase nearby.

One of the most interesting changes since COVID has been the rise in working travellers on ‘workations’. This is where people with remote jobs have realised that they don’t have to work from their kitchen or bedroom – they could do it from a beach or in a bar like at Kingsmills Hotel! Hotels and guest accommodation have similarly realised that to cater to this emerging market, they need to ensure their Wi-Fi is as fast as possible and accessible throughout their grounds. Additionally, guests like to find places to work where they can engage in online meetings without disturbing others. So locations that offer rooms to hire by the hour with screens and power sources are proving popular with this type of traveller. 

With remote working here to stay, ensuring your accommodation and services are appealing to these digital nomads is a good investment for the future.

The eco-travel market is on the rise

Travel with a conscious sign for eco travel.

Furthermore, eco-travelling has come up the ranks in 2023. We’ve noticed that when faced with two similar holiday options, travellers will often choose the more expensive if it is eco friendly. This means it might be a location which is environmentally conscious, or offers carbon offsets. By pushing the environmental aspects of a venue – perhaps by not wasting unused food as seen at events at Venachar Lochside – businesses can increase their appeal to eco travellers. We can see this trend increasing over 2024 and beyond.

Make sure you have a digital marketing strategy

Long gone are the days when you could simply set up a website and expect customers to come pouring in. If you want to be seen online today, you need a digital strategy including SEO and marketing and 2023 has continued to prove that point. 

We continue to see a lot of traffic come from social media websites, so a strong presence on platforms like Facebook continue to be vital. A great example is Eagle Brae. Their social presence is more about the experience and getting potential customers to imagine how wonderful it would be to stay there. Whilst they still promote last minute breaks, it isn’t a hard sell because they have a high quality offer they know people will want. 

a man holds a tablet with digital links to a map of the world.

Having websites which are fully SEO optimised is also crucial. SEO or search engine optimisation is a way to construct a site so that search engines such as Google can easily find them and understand what your site is about. This means it can reliably deliver your site in search results to customers looking for your service. It’s no longer about ‘keyword stuffing’, but rather making sure your site is authoritative, up to date and relevant. By understanding the types of searches people do in your niche (for example caravan holidays, hot tub breaks, luxury event space etc), it’s possible to create pages to meet that need and so make yourself visible to a new audience. Stuckgowan Estates is a great example of a five-star accommodation experience which runs a beautifully SEO optimised website. 

Highlight free things to do

Even although people are going on holiday again, and are often willing to pay a little extra to make sure their hotel or self-catering meets their needs, people are still conscious of their overall budget. The cost of living will still be tight throughout 2024.

A family fly a kite by the coast.

What we’ve found is that free things to do near an area can be a deciding factor when it comes to deciding on where to stay. We urge our clients to consider this when working on their websites. It could be anything from wild swimming in a loch to where to buy food for a picnic. Loch Lomond Waterfront have particularly embraced this strategy by highlighting the many free things to do around the area, and they are reaping the rewards. Offering itineraries for free days out is a slam dunk when it comes to high performing blogs. 

Open bookings in advance

People are planning their holidays much further in advance now than ever before, which means accommodations need to open up their bookings well into the future. 

It may be because people want to spread the cost for their holidays over a longer period, but we are finding that holiday bookings are coming in for up to a year or even two in advance. This means, as of 2023, we advise clients to open their bookings up to the end of 2025. Rates for Christmas and new year breaks need to be live at least six months before the season, and the same goes for Valentines Day offers, spring beaks and half term holidays. 

January is by far the biggest month of the year for bookings. By the end of December, websites need to have their last minute deals ready for 2024, as well as looking ahead to 2025 stays. 

Looking forward to another amazing year

2023 has been a fantastic year for our clients, and we hope to make 2024 even better! If you are looking for a marketing agency which specialises in hospitality digital marketing, then we would love to chat about helping you get to the next level.