There were an estimated 9.9 million holidays taken in rental property during 2013, either in the UK or overseas. Privately owned accommodation has entered the tourism mainstream competing alongside hotels, holiday resorts and cruises.

Facilitated by online intermediaries, a growing number of second home owners are seeking to rent out their properties as an extra income stream, and, more recently, city residents have begun offering space in their primary residences for short-term let. However, the sector is often less clearly regulated than other forms of commercial accommodation and, in this most independent of travel sectors, companies often bear little responsibility for the quality of the holiday experience other than providing a channel between owner and renter.

This report analyses market trends and influential factors, looks at some of the leading companies involved and includes consumer analysis examining how many and what kind of people choose this type of holiday in the UK and abroad, where people go and how long they stay, how they book, what sort of facilities and services people look for when renting a holiday property and consumer perceptions, positive and negative. This is the first time Mintel has reported on this market.


Holiday rental property refers to holiday lettings includes cottages, houses, villas, gites, chalets, lodges, town/city apartments, flats or just rooms in a house. Self-catering apartments on holiday resort complexes (eg Butlins or package resorts abroad) or other types of self-catering property such as camping and caravanning or boat hire, are excluded here.

Data on the size and segmentation of the market are for Great Britain rather than the United Kingdom (ie Northern Ireland is not included).

The standard travel and tourism definitions used in the terminology of this report are as follows:

  • Tourism is any travel, which involves an overnight stay away from home.

  • A holiday is a subjectively defined form of tourism, as defined by the tourist in response to surveys such as IPS or UKTS. A holiday can be distinguished from other leisure travel such as visits to friends and relatives (VFR) or shopping trips.

  • A long holiday is a holiday of four nights or more away from home; a short break is a holiday that involves one to three nights away from home.

  • Short-haul refers to air holidays within Europe, dominated by flights to Mediterranean resorts but including the Canary Islands, which are treated as a part of the Spanish market. Long-haul, therefore, refers to holidays outside of Europe.

  • EU Europe (15) destinations refer to the member countries in the European Union prior to the accession of 10 further countries in 2004. The EU 15 destinations are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

  • An inclusive tour, or package holiday, is defined as the simultaneous sale of at least two elements of a holiday to the traveller: fares on public transport (eg flights) and commercial accommodation (eg hotel or self-catering apartment). Other elements, such as meals or excursions, are not essential to the definition of an inclusive tour.

  • The term ‘all-inclusive’ is used to describe a special type of holiday resort in which food, drink, and other services are provided as part of the total holiday cost.

  • An independent holiday is one in which the traveller organises and books transport and accommodation from separate sources (eg a Channel ferry crossing and a caravan site in France).

  • Seat- or flight-only is a type of independent holiday, and the terms are used to denote a holiday in which travellers only purchase a return fare and thereafter book their own accommodation, car hire etc.

  • A dynamically packaged holiday or Flight-Plus holiday is a holiday in which individual components (eg flight, hotel and car hire) are put together from different suppliers, either via a high street travel agent or online travel intermediary.

Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland.

In addition to quantitative consumer research, Mintel also conducted an online discussion group among a demographically mixed group of around 15 consumers.

This discussion group was asynchronous (ie not run in real time), functioning like a blog or bulletin board, with questions remaining posted for a pre-determined period of time. This method allows participants to respond reflectively, at their leisure, or to log off to think about any issues raised, and return later to respond. Participants were recruited from GMI’s online consumer panel.


APD Air Passenger Duty
ATOL Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing
B&B Bed and Breakfast
CEO Chief Executive Officer
EBIT Earnings Before Interest & Taxes
EHS English Housing Survey
EU European Union
GBTS Great Britain Tourism Survey
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