Elavon customer and Michelin-star chef, hotelier and media personality Michael Caines shares his insight on the business benefits of holidaying in the country you call home.
The pandemic may have stifled the traditional European jaunt, but it has also provided a boon for domestic tourism. While the actual word ‘staycation’ may be loathed by grammar purists, and ‘localiday’ is still a work in progress by others, the fundamental concept is very much in vogue.
“We’re all packing our bags, bundling our families and dogs into the car and, instead of heading abroad, we’re heading down the road or into a neighbouring county to explore the gems within our own coastlines that we’ve perhaps overlooked for so long,” says Michael Caines, who runs Devon’s luxury hotel and restaurant Lympstone Manor.
“While many of us as travellers have previously been quick to seek the sun and warmer climates, now we’re appreciating the evergreen beauty and patchwork fields, diverse shorelines and sandy beaches of England – let alone its wealth of culture and history.
“As business owners, we’d be wise to put those personal experiences front and centre, like never before,” says Michael.
“If we’re travelling closer to home in our personal lives, that’s what we should be mindful of in our professional lives, too. For tourism, travel and hospitality, it has probably never been more important.
“We're getting the opportunity to discover new places and rediscover memories of old. The nostalgia we feel from going to places we once visited as children, and to now recreate those memories with the next generation, is such an amazing opportunity – and one we should be encouraging not just as individual businesses, but as a business community.
“As the old adage goes: a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’.”
No place like home
With booking platforms reporting significant increases in local bookings compared to this time last year, some of the biggest names in tourism, like Michael, are optimistic that bumper seasons following will go a long way towards making up for revenue lost during lockdown.
“There’s no place like home,” says Michael. “By that I mean there’s no tourism industry in the world better equipped to cope with our unique weather, than those of us who face it and thrive in it every day!
“Fair-weather tourism isn’t the mainstay of the UK. We’ve never been able to rely on the weather to make our income, so offering a welcome that’s warm – whether it’s snowing or shining – has always been second nature because nothing could be more natural.
“With so many hidden gems across the country to discover, we're also creating special memories and moments. And we’re doing that together,” says Michael.
“We’re investing in seasonal produce and supporting nearby farms and farm shops to source local produce for our menus. We encourage the visitors we get through our door to visit our neighbours, too – their cafes, dog-friendly pubs, the undiscovered walks, the tranquil parks and attractions, and wider local economy, ensuring employment and communities are supported and that we remain a destination people will come to again and again.
“Not only does this make sure we’re still here for future generations but, working together, we can better leverage what we have on offer and show how enriching a destination experience can be," says Michael.
Promoting local activities and businesses
“Here at Lympstone Manor, we promote local activities such as exploring the famous Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, paddle boarding or kite surfing and promote on our menu local producers such as Darts Farm’s lamb. Without the community’s support, the experience we offer our guests just wouldn’t be as rich.
“And we actively encourage that by visiting our neighbours ourselves, enjoying their bars and cafes and being properly a part of the area we call work – and home.”
While previously, Brits looked abroad to use our annual leave, a staycation is now firmly in the sights for many. When we asked 1,101 UK adults about their post-pandemic spending priorities, four out of five (81%) were planning a mini-break within the UK, while more than half (54%) planned a longer holiday within Great Britain.
For Michael, this is a no-brainer. “There’s so much on our own doorsteps we overlook. I've long maintained that the south west [of Britain] has the best larder in Europe."
He goes on: "From Home Country cattle breeds such as the Ruby Red and local fish from the waters we see right in front of our restaurants, to the award-winning cheeses and, soon, our wine – the microclimate we enjoy here means we’re due to harvest our 11-acre vineyard and produce our Champagne-style English sparkling wine.”
Seamless payment processing
With his hotel and restaurant filling once more, Michael has turned to Elavon to ensure the payments processing is as smooth as possible for guests – and to make sure the unsavoury topic of money is as palatable as possible.
“Elavon has provided a seamless approach for us,” says Michael. “Making the payment element of a holiday effortless and painless is always a bonus. In these hygiene-heightened times, if we can also make it contactless or digital, that's even better.
“Taking that further: if we make it clear that we accept all the ways visitors want to pay – be that by app, smartphone or contactless at checkout – throughout their visit, stay or booking, then you take that conversation out of the experience. This makes it more about relaxation, enjoyment and value, rather than cost.