The Great Summer Staycation: how can National Trust mark its territory?

Going on a great UK holiday is fast becoming a badge of honour. If you can get a snap yourself in glorious British sunshine with a regional ice cream and make no complaint of the fact you’re not abroad, you’ll get all the brownie points.

Everyone knows that the staycation is here to stay, and people are beginning to recognise that there is just as much adventure and ‘off the beaten track’ treasures to explore in Yorkshire as there are in Paris. For the more zeitgeisty of us, the value of UK breaks might be due to an increasing aversion to flying.

National Trust is the jewel in the crown for the Great British Holiday. It protects and provides many of the fantastic grounds, buildings, beaches and national parks that often feature in our holidays. Top it off with a hidden network of beautiful and perfectly placed holiday homes and really there’s not much more the NT could do to give UK holidaymakers the perfect getaway.

So we all agree – NT is great.  But how many of us are actually members? And how many of us have every paid entry into their fantastic grounds? The product is near perfect, but when will NT do what it takes to actually engage people who don’t have children, who don’t have a car, and who didn’t grow up surrounded by rolling fields?

These seem to be the three pre-requisites to becoming an NT member: you’ve got to have a whip and a couple of kids (or grandkids) to pack into it, and it feels like you need to already have a next-to-Encyclopedic knowledge of the British countryside and the NT network.

But what about the nature-loving, carbon-hating millennials who just love to be oh-so-alternative and abandon foreign holidays in favour of wholesome roadtrips (but have no car)? NT need to shake up their offering so their would-be-perfect product doesn’t go under the radar. Be it via an NT railcard, brochures of sites accessible from large stations, or simply a little bit of awareness building, this audience is ripe to be accessed.

So this leaves us with our original hypothesis that one does not become an NT member – one is born a member. We all love the NT as a national treasure, but I wouldn’t be able to say with any degree of certainty which sites they maintain. Even if not literally, NT knowledge and membership is passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, meaning NT don’t need to make that much of an effort to convert new members. And this is where they are missing a trick. It’s hard to know much about the network when the last time you visited one of their properties was at the age of 5. NT desperately needs to get itself out there. Rather than asking people where they want to go, start asking people where they are and what they want to do. Help prospective customers learn more about what’s out there; help them see exactly what they could do.

So in order to ensure that the NT take their rightful stand as the original and the best curator of the Great British Holiday, they’ve got to make sure they’re appealing to the whole of the Great British population. It’s time to get off those laurels and make a splash with the next generation of holiday makers. As we’ll hear from Amber next week, the bespoke no-car-no-problem adventure holiday that takes you from your doorstep into the wilderness in under 4 hours, is on the rise and about to gobble up this group of consumers.

By: The Value Engineers

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