FORESIGHT - Issue 84: October 2010

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1 FORESIGHT - Issue 84: October 2010 Visits to gardens In 2009 VisitBritain sponsored a question on the International Passenger Survey 1 that asked about a range of activities that visitors may have undertaken during their stay. The figures show that, among the 29.9 million visits to Britain by overseas residents in million included time visiting a garden. Top markets Britain is renowned worldwide for its gardens and love of gardening, with gardens, both large and small, an activity that inbound visitors can enjoy in every part of Britain, ranging from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew to Torasay Castle Gardens on the Isle of Mull or Bodnant Gardens in North Wales. The table shows figures for the top ten markets in terms of visits to gardens in We can see that over half a million visits from France, Germany, USA and Spain included time exploring gardens. Just outside the top ten but worth a mention is that more than 100,000 visits from Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and the Czech Republic involved time visiting gardens. Although not appearing in the top ten in terms of volume, it is interesting to note that nearly half of visits from both Brazil and Argentina involved time spent visiting a garden. This in part reflects the relatively high share of leisure visits from these markets, with this equally being true of a number of markets from which around one-in-three visits includes a trip to a garden, for example Australia, New Zealand and South Africa Market Visits France 760,405 Germany 693,369 USA 687,053 Spain 512,730 Italy 322,386 Australia 299,491 Netherlands 276,434 Irish Republic 187,210 Canada 176,202 Poland 158,093 Visit characteristics We can observe from the chart overleaf that the most popular time of year to visit gardens is definitely during the summer months, with July to September accounting for 2.4 million of the annual tally of 6.1 million garden visits, with by contrast just 800,000 visits to gardens in the first quarter of the year.

2 Why a visitor has travelled to Britain plays a strong role in determining what they do during their trip. We can see that visitors who are here on holiday make up the bulk of visits to gardens, though with a sizeable number of visits by those here to visit either friends or relatives. As we noted last month, the insight we gain from looking at a chart can depend very much on the way in which data is presented. The top chart on the following page illustrates this point, with the share of visitors within each broad journey purpose category who visit a garden plotted. Here we can see that while two-in-five holiday visitors enjoy a garden, those in Britain to study have a slightly higher propensity (43%) to include visiting a garden on their itinerary. Only around one-in-twenty business visitors goes to a garden. Taking the same approach to displaying figures on the duration of stay profile for visitors who visit a garden reveals that the bulk of visits are by those in Britain for between 4 and 7 nights, but that the longer the duration of stay, the greater the likelihood of a visit to a garden, with 36% of 15+ night stays including time in a garden.

3

4 Visitor characteristics Last month we noted that visitor characteristics are influenced by the nature of a visit, in particular journey purpose. As such it is important to recognise that the age and gender profile of visitors coming to Britain for a holiday is different to that for visitors here on business. The following chart presents the age and sex distribution of visits to gardens based on visitors across all journey purposes. The second chart presents the proportion of visitors in each age group who undertook the activity in We can see that broadly equal numbers of males and females visit gardens, but for the year group considerably more females than males do so. In terms of the proportion of visitors from each gender and age group we discover that females are more likely to visit gardens for all age bands except for the 65+ group.

5 First time and Repeat visitors It is often said in Marketing circles that it costs less to retain an existing customer than to encourage a new one to purchase your product. In this article we shall be looking at repeat visitors to Britain, to understand what proportion of visitors are repeaters, what their characteristics are, and asking the question of what their long-term value to Britain is. Increasingly, tourism is becoming more and more competitive, with so many destinations to visit you are unlikely to visit them all during your lifetime. So how many repeat visitors does Britain get? In 2009, VisitBritain sponsored questions on the International Passenger Survey to understand how many visitors had come to Britain before in the last ten years, and if so, how many times they had visited during that period. The survey revealed that a high proportion (77%) of visitors had been to Britain before in the last ten years, but a slightly lower proportion of Holiday visitors had been before (62% of all Holiday visitors and 60% of Holiday visitors excluding British ex-pats). Those visitors coming for Business, or to Visit Friends and Relatives (VFR) were more likely to be repeaters (92% and 86% respectively), understandable given that the nature of their work or the location of their friends/family is likely to determine that they come back fairly frequently. Considering that Holiday visits are discretionary (whilst a lower proportion of Business and VFR visits are) and that they contain more of a balance of repeat visits and first-time visits, the remainder of this article mainly focuses on Holiday visits. How do repeat visits differ from first-time visits? When referring to first-time visits, we should remember that this means the first visit in the last ten years. It might not actually be the first time that a visitor has come to Britain, but it is the first visit for a while, so they can safely be considered not to be frequent visitors. Looking at Holiday visits, we find that repeat visitors have a slightly more even seasonal spread and regional spread than first-timers, together with a slightly longer length of stay. The table below shows the proportion of first-time holiday visitors compared to repeat visitors for Scotland, Wales, London, and the Rest of England. Proportion of First-time Holiday Visitors Proportion of Repeat Holiday Visitors London 42% 58% Rest of England 33% 67% Scotland 33% 67% Wales 35% 65% All Visits 38% 62% London has the most even balance between first-time (42%) and repeat visitors (58%), whilst for the rest of England, Scotland, and Wales around two-thirds of visitors have been to Britain before. This is consistent with the idea that London is often included in visitors first trip to Britain, but visitors are more likely to take a look beyond London on subsequent visits.

6 The chart below shows that repeat visitors made a higher proportion of trips than first-timers in October to December (22% versus 18%). Britain s summer months of July to September were as popular with repeat visitors as first-timers. However, first-timers showed a higher propensity than repeaters to visit during April to June (33% versus 27%). As can be seen from the chart below, repeat holiday visits are more polarised than first-time visits in terms of the duration of stay. Repeat visits are more likely to last longer than first-time visits, with 23% lasting eight nights or more compared to 18% of first-time visits. However, 1-3 night trips are also more common for repeaters (39%) than first-timers (34%). Looking at the average length of stay tells us that on balance repeat visitors stay slightly longer in Britain than first-time visitors (6.5 nights versus 6.0 nights). Spending Habits Given that repeat Holiday visits have a slightly longer duration than first-time Holiday visits, it is not surprising to find that repeaters spend more per visit than first-timers. However, the table below shows that they also spend more per night.

7 First-time Holiday Visits Repeat Holiday Visits Average Spend per Visit Average Spend per Night Repeat VFR visitors also spend more per visit ( 429) than first-time VFR visitors ( 418), but the difference is less pronounced. Repeat Business visitors, on the other hand, spend considerably less per visit than first-time Business visitors ( 521 vs. 900), despite spending more per night ( 147 vs. 106) Ten-year value Understanding how much a visitor spends when they come to Britain is all very well, but it only gives us a snap-shot of one moment in time. It is therefore interesting to consider how much a visitor spends in Britain over a longer period of time to get an idea of their long-term value as a customer. The chart below shows how much Holiday visitors from each country spend per visit compared to the number of times, on average, that they have visited in the last ten years. Looking towards the top-right of the chart, we can clearly see that Holiday visitors from the Gulf region (consisting of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman) are Britain s highest value customers. Holiday visitors from the UAE, for example, are very likely to have visited Britain before, with figures from the 2009 International Passenger Survey telling us that 91% of Holiday visitors had visited the UK before in the last ten years (although it should be noted that the survey did not record the purpose of their previous visits). However, the story does not end there Holiday visitors from the UAE visited the UK an average of nine times each in the last ten years, indicating that many visit every year.

8 The fact that they spend around 1,750 on each visit shows that over a ten year period, we can estimate that each customer spends over 15,000 in total in the UK during that time. Looking towards the bottom-right of the chart, we can see that Holiday visitors from the Irish Republic also have a high frequency of visiting the UK (90% have visited before in the last ten years), visiting an average of eight times each. Holiday visitors from the Irish Republic spend far less per visit than those from the UAE ( 400 versus 1,750), meaning that the ten-year spend of a Holiday visitor from the Irish Republic weighs in at around 3,000. Although this is significantly less than the ten-year spend of a Holiday visitor from the UAE, the chart above shows (by the size of the bubble) that the UK gets a far higher number of Holiday visitors from Ireland than from the UAE. The lower-central section of the chart contains a number of markets which provide a large volume of Holiday visits, namely France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. These markets provide more of a balance between repeat visitors and first-time visitors. For example, 59% of Holiday visitors from France and 56% from Germany are repeaters. An average Holiday visitor from these markets will typically be on their fourth visit to Britain in the last ten years, spending around on each visit. Looking at other markets, we can see that Japanese Holiday visitors have a lower repeat rate, but spend around 1,500 per visit whilst Holiday visitors from Brazil have an even lower repeat rate, and spend around 700 per visit. Part of the reason that repeat rates from Brazil are relatively low could be due to the low volume of visits that Britain received in the past. However, with the volume of visits having approximately doubled over the last five or six years, we can be optimistic that the volumes of both first-time and repeat visits from Brazil will increase over the coming years. A full list showing the proportions of repeat visitors from key markets can be found at the end of this article. Balance between First-Time and Repeat Visitors Considering the number of worldwide destinations available to holiday-makers, it is very encouraging to know that a significant proportion of Holiday visitors to Britain (62%) have already visited in the last ten years and chosen to return to Britain. Continuing to satisfy these customers needs and provide outstanding experiences is clearly essential to the long-term health of the inbound visitor economy. However, it is also very important to attract first-time and lapsed visitors (those who have not visited for a while) in order to maintain and grow the volume of visits. Looking at a market like the UAE, it is incredible to see such a high rate of repeat Holiday visitors (91%). Whilst it is fantastic to see such loyalty to Britain as a holiday destination, we should also be very aware of the value of attracting more first-time visitors, who, given a great experience could become customers for many years to come.

9 Figures highlighted in red are based on very small sample sizes 1 Data from International Passenger Survey has been made available by the Office for National Statistics and has been used by permission. The ONS do not bear any responsibility for the analysis or interpretation of the data reported here. Crown Copyright Source: ONS Download an Index to all earlier editions of Foresight here:

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