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We’ll take our hibernation habits on staycation this summer – but are Ireland’s tourist towns ready?

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Here are three things we know.

irst, self-catering is selling well for summer. Second, the pandemic has seen us all take a leap forward with tech. Third, Irish food, drink and retail businesses have dreamt up amazingly creative ways to serve people stuck at home – from meal kits to cocktail clubs and subscription boxes.

So how can we put these three trends together to help everyone have the best possible summer?

First, self-catering.

We Irish have always been happy holidaying this way – from home swaps to holiday resorts, Airbnbs to apartments in the Algarve; campsites to Cabu by the Lakes or Center Parcs. As we seek to bubble-up with loved ones and avoid crowds this summer, that’s only going to continue.

Second, the tech.

Many of us are now running our lives from our phones – be it scrolling Netflix, buying Christmas gifts or ordering takeways. A few weeks ago, I finally set up Apple Pay – it took about a minute, and I haven’t taken my wallet out since. When holidaymakers take off, we are going to expect cashless, touchless transactions for reasons of convenience and cleanliness. Whether you’re driving a taxi or food truck, you need to be ready.

Third, ordering in.

Household savings have risen, and many are looking forward to treats after lockdown. But what if ‘wet’ pubs are closed, restaurants have limited capacity and everything needs pre-booking? Outdoor dining will be big, and we’ll of course want table service meals. But I can also see grocery deliveries, meal kits, craft beers and click-and-collects buzzing around holiday hubs all over Ireland.

“It’s a sense of safety and security too,” says Máire Ní Mhurchú of the Irish Self-Catering Federation. “Before, people would ask for a babysitter to come in, but there was none of that last summer. Everybody was staying at home with their kids.”

It’s not just food. If a house, tent or apartment is our holiday hub, it should also connect us with activity and shopping options. The ring binders of old are gone under Covid safety guidelines. Now’s the time to go up a gear, for accommodation owners and Airbnb hosts to team up with local bars, eateries, shops, bike hire, galleries and activity providers to provide intuitive web pages with clickable links.

If a whole destination gets behind the resource, all the better. Send them to guests in advance and include creative packages and discount codes. Finally, just as many hotels sell spa products or showcase local art, could holiday houses get creative with local retail, featuring books, furnishings or throws available to buy?

We want to support communities. This is win-win. With several months to go, now’s the time to digitise, figure out how we’ll take our hibernation habits on staycation, and work together to ensure as many local businesses as possible benefit.

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