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Rise of the ‘Hay-Cationer’

What is a “Hay-Cation” and how can accommodation operators cater to this new market of travellers?

It’s been labelled one of 2023’s greatest travel trends by Expedia, but what exactly is a “Hay-Cation” and how can accommodation operators cater to this new market of travellers?

For city dwellers, the idea of escaping the hustle and bustle and enjoying the tranquillity of a country setting has all the makings of a perfect holiday.

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Hay-Cations offer intimate escapes to the countryside, often enticing guests with rustic stays in converted barns to rural farmhouses.

According to Stayz, demand for holiday homes in some of the country’s top rural destinations is up by more than 90 percent, and interest in mountainside destinations with breathtaking views of lakes and rivers are also up by 50 percent.

“When we look at Expedia, Wotif, and Stayz data together, we see a detailed and robust picture of travel into 2023,” said Jon Gieselman, president, Expedia Brands.

“We’re seeing a spike in demand for outdoor destinations beyond just beaches and mountains — not a new normal but people branching out to unexpected trends in what we’re calling the ‘no normal’.”

He identified Hay-Cations as a growing attraction for travellers seeking alternative-style holidays, which might not be great news for Australian beach destinations but suggest that some regional destinations still have the chance to continue their occupancy honeymoons.

The key, however, will be for hotels and attractions to excite travellers with authentic experiences that go beyond the obvious – the “no-normal” trend, as Expedia has dubbed it.

Lilac Valley Farm Stay, Hunter Valley Photo by The Brewers on Unsplash

To help your accommodation cater and inspire guests seeking a Hay-Cation, AccomNews has looked at the various ways in which you can tap into this trend.

Luxury Farm Stay Feel

Even if your accommodation is not located on a working farm, it is still possible to evoke the feel of a farm stay with carefully selected decor and furniture.

The use of reclaimed timbers and materials can help add a rustic feel to your accommodation, while antique decor can help add to the perfect ‘Hay-cation’.

For the guestroom, embrace natural linens and cozy knitted blankets to help your guests unwind and settle into a slower pace of life.

Outside, consider installing a fire pit so that guests can stay warm while looking up to a sky full of stars.

Country Hospitality

A big appeal of the Hay-Cation is the allure of country hospitality. To evoke this sense of big-hearted hospitality in your accommodation, consider extra touches you could include to delight your guests.

How about including breakfast essentials for guests to enjoy free of charge?

Be sure to look in your local region for locally sourced honey, eggs and jams.

If you have a local winery or brewery, consider working with them to provide guests with a tipple to enjoy over their stay.

Photo by Chelsea Pridham on Unsplash

Local Experiences

If you’re looking to bring the farm life experience to Hay-Cationers, you may have to look outside the box to bring the farm to them. A number of farms will now provide experiences, allowing guests to experience the best of what the region has to offer.

Highland Cow experiences have proven popular throughout Australia, allowing guests to meet and brush these furry four-legged friends!

Beehive tours are another popular activity, and allow guests to learn more about the fascinating production of honey.

Have a look in your local area and look at connecting with local farmers or producers to provide your guests with experiences that will turn their Hay-Cation into a lifelong memory.

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