New study reveals what causes ‘The Holiday Feeling’ and how to maximise it

    • TUI UK has worked with Dr Tali Sharot of the University College London’s Affective Brain Lab to track the life cycle of ‘The Holiday Feeling’, from booking to beach
    • The research shows we hit peak holiday feeling at hour 43, but we lose it less than 4 days (3.7 days) after unpacking our suitcases back at home
    • 23% of holiday feeling moments occur before we step on the plane, a “Factor 30” list of key triggers reveals
    • The findings will be used by TUI to explore ways to enhance the holiday feeling for guests, and to help them make it last even longer

    14 May 2019 – New research from TUI UK in collaboration with University College London’s Affective Brain Lab has uncovered what triggers the difficult-to-define, but universally recognised, “holiday feeling” and unlocks how holidaymakers can retain the positive effects for longer.

    With more than 30 million British holidaymakers set to jet off on a beach holiday this summer, leading holiday experts TUI reveal that they will hit their peak ‘holiday feeling’ just 43 hours into their trip. The findings also revealed a ‘Factor 30’ list of the key triggers that cause the biggest holiday feelings, with feeling the warmth of sun on your skin, the sound of the ocean, soaking up a picture-perfect view and having that first swim in the pool at the top.

    However, the positive feeling we experience whilst away is a short-lived one, with the average traveller losing the holiday feeling less than 4 days (3.7 days) after unpacking their bags when they return home.

    Dr Tali Sharot Director of UCL’s Affective Brain Lab, who conducted a qualitative study of guests at a TUI Sensatori resort in the Dominican Republic commented: “It’s interesting to see that a significant number of the key triggers that ignite positive holiday feelings happen before we even set foot on the plane.  A brain imaging study we conducted in 2010 showed that just imagining a holiday can spark the feeling of anticipation and joy which activate the brain’s “reward centre” – the striatum. This part of our brain receives input from dopamine neurons, providing us with anticipation of pleasure.   In other words, just thinking about going on holiday – or planning your next holiday when you return home – will activate the reward system in your brain.”

    One in four of the holiday feeling triggers revealed in the research relate to planning and anticipation (23%) – with booking the holiday, putting your out of office on, and checking in for your flight, all making the ‘Factor 30’ list.

    Dr Sharot added: “Holiday “firsts” are also hugely important… Neuroscience studies have shown that novelty – the quality of something being new – is incredibly rewarding in itself. When things (places, experiences, items) are new an additional response is triggered in the brain’s reward system, to give us a “spark” of positive feeling.”

    Evidentiary to this, seeing your hotel room for the first time, having your first swim in the pool and having the first sip of your holiday cocktail all appear in the list.

    However, the research also found that less than 4 days (3.7 days) after returning home the positive effects of our holiday disappear. Nearly half of us (44%) say this is due to having to return to a normal routine, coming back to colder and rainier weather (43%), as well as returning to work (39%).

    In line with the ‘reward centre’ theory, one in three of us (33%) start researching our next getaway less than 3 weeks after returning from the last trip, and nearly a quarter of us (22%) book our next holiday less than a month after returning home.

    With a huge 95% of us wishing we could make the holiday feeling last longer, TUI is exploring the findings and results of Dr Sharot’s qualitative study to assess how they can help guests heighten the holiday feeling on resort, as well as before and after they go on holiday. With half (50%) saying that looking at photographs from the holiday helped prolong the feeling, one potential idea is installing ‘holiday feeling’ photo booths on resorts so guests can physically capture an image of them at ‘peak time’, and then re-live the moment at home.  TUI is also developing a brand-new product launching later this year which will help to extend the holiday feeling back in the UK.

    Katie McAlister, Chief Marketing Officer for TUI UK & Ireland said: “When our guests book a holiday with us we want to make the whole experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, from the moment they book, to the moment they see the beach. We all know, and have felt, the holiday feeling – that feeling of utter joy, excitement, anticipation and relaxation – and this research provides fascinating insights that will help us ensure that our guests enjoy their holiday feeling to the max.   For example, understanding its life cycle will inform our pre and after travel communications and we will be creating something new soon that will quite literally ‘bottle the holiday feeling’ in a bid to make it last even longer.”

    To coincide with the research, TUI enlisted the help of one of the UK’s most exuberant personalities – John Barrowman – to bring the holiday feeling to life.  The entertainer has taken on a brand-new role in a short film, showing holidaymakers exactly what the holiday feeling is during a stay at the TUI SENSATORI Resort Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.

    To watch the “fab-u-lous” film, find out more about the research and to discover what type of holiday will give you the biggest holiday feeling, visit: www.tui.co.uk/theholidayfeeling


    TUI’s “Factor 30” list of top holiday feeling triggers:

    1. Feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin
    2. Stepping off the plane and feeling that wave of heat
    3. Exploring the local area
    4. Spending quality time with family and friends
    5. Hearing the ocean
    6. Soaking up a picture-perfect view
    7. Not having to worry about day to day chores, like cooking and cleaning
    8. Booking your holiday
    9. Swimming in the clear blue sea
    10. Having dinner with a sea view
    11. Seeing your hotel room for the first time
    12. Watching the sunset
    13. Having your first swim in the pool
    14. Looking at the weather report and seeing 100% sun
    15. Trying new foods
    16. Packing your suitcase
    17. Feeling of sand between your toes
    18. Checking in at the hotel
    19. Discovering a new culture
    20. Smelling the salty sea air
    21. Having a drink at the airport
    22. Taking your first sip of a holiday cocktail, like a Pina colada or mojito
    23. Researching where to go on holiday
    24. Smelling your sun cream
    25. Getting ready for dinner or evening activities
    26. Booking a holiday excursion or trip
    27. Checking in to your flight online
    28. Putting your out of office on
    29. Checking your holiday countdown clock – on an app or email
    30. Having an ice-cream

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