Chillisauce is the world’s largest provider of stag and hen parties. As we enter 2019, this report reflects on an interesting 2018 and showcases some of the top trends across the stag and hen segments of the travel and experiences industries.
Our booking data reveals that classic destinations remain wildly popular, while groups are expanding their horizons and bringing growth to new, non-traditional stag and hen activities. Read the full stag and hen industry trends report for lots more surprising insight, industry statistics and curious new trends across this diverse and ever changing sector.
Q1 is the time to book
Kick the year off with a plan
After the surge of proposals between Christmas and New Year popping up all over Facebook, there’s one thing on everyone’s mind - no, not New Year’s resolutions or Dry January...it’s all about the stag and hen do. Everyone’s already put it off for long enough, so the last two weeks of January and right through to March is the most popular time of year to finally get it organised. Of course, then comes Valentine’s Day and even more proposals…
May-hem! Bank holiday will be the biggest weekend
Before the wedding season takes off in the summer, the stag and hen season begins. In 2019, the first May bank holiday (3rd - 6th May 2019) will be the biggest weekend of the year with stag and hen groups from all over the UK partying in cities all over Europe. In 2018 it was the 4th-7th May and in 2017, the weekend of 26th-29th May.
The UK travel and tourism sector has never felt as much pressure as now. Brexit prolongs the chaos, but none of this seems to have a negative impact on the stag and hen industry which despite all odds continues to maintain a surprising amount of resilience.
Royal wedding fever grips the nation
Just as the dust settles from Will and Kate saying their nuptials, the country is swept away once more with Harry and Meghan fever, and yet again despite the distraction the stag and hen industry continues to thrive.
...as does Gareth Southgate and his squad
Needless to say, we didn't change our plans for the world cup; watching the match in a beach bar with 14 of your mates beats watching it down the local.
Bookings are clearly up, but to where?
Which is more popular?
Stags are escaping the UK and heading abroad for all their stag do excitement with 57% of our stag groups choosing from over 30 cities in Europe as their party destination. Hens are staying much closer to home with 71% of our hen groups taking advantage of everything UK cities have to offer.
The UK is more popular for hens
Hen's are heading to Liverpool
2018 was a top year for Liverpool, as 20% of our hens flocked to this buzzing city for a wide range of activities, both classic and quirky. Brighton was also a top choice with 18% of our hens, and it’s easy to see why with this vibrant seaside city known for its incredible nightlife and free spirit. Wales’s stylish capital, Cardiff, came in third at 11%, popular for its shopping districts, festivals and charm.
No carbs before Marbs
Hens love Marbella, a city where you can expect glamorous luxury, exclusive nightlife and white sand beaches. That’s exactly why 15% of our travel-loving hens made it their number one choice in Europe. Ireland’s own Dublin followed with 14% with friendly locals, youthful energy and wild parties. Over in Portugal, 12% of hens chose Albufeira for sun, sand and the infamous Strip.
Europe is more popular for stags
Prague has come out on top
Prague is the popular stag do favourite and practically a playground for stags with cheap pints, party-loving nightlife and tons of outdoor activities, so it’s no surprise it tops our list with 23% of our stags visiting last year. Budapest, again, is a well-known favourite attracting 19% of our stags with its famous and unique ruin bars, thermal spas and warm summers. Benidorm came in third for its notorious party atmosphere.
Stags are heading to Newcastle
In 2018, 15% of our stags headed to Newcastle for its cheap beer and unrivalled atmosphere, choosing the party capital of the North for their stag weekend. Cardiff was equally popular with its Welsh charm and thrilling watersports. Bournemouth isn’t too far behind either at 12%, perfect for thrilling, adrenaline-inducing activities and energetic nightlife.
What do these cities tell us about our groups?
Boozy stags head up North
As for which city dons the booze-soaked crown? Unsurprisingly, Newcastle takes the top spot with our data for nightlife categories showing a firm majority heading up North. That doesn’t mean the other UK cities don’t love a good drink or two; trust us, they do and that means you’re in for a lively night out wherever you end up.
...and the hens drink down South
For hens, if you’re all about booze head to Brighton the number one hedonistic, hen-friendly haven to visit. Plus, Edinburgh and Cardiff are popular for both stag and hen - so you know exactly where to go on a big night out. That's not to say London, Bournemouth or Bristol is any more sensible. They're still in our top 10!
Where is the money going?
Dinner or drinks?
When it comes to accommodation and activities, stags and hens spend pretty similar amounts. Where you really notice the difference is with meals and nightlife. Stags blow 7% more of their cash on boozy nights out, with activities like bar crawls and drinks packages, making up 13% of the total. Hens, however, show a preference for a delicious meal at a nice restaurant with that using up 7% of their total expense compared to stags’ at only 4%.
Apartments are on the rise
In the last year, more and more hen and stag groups are choosing to spend slightly more to stay in apartments all together as a group - 15% up from 2017. The classic hotel option is still a firm favourite with 54% of our groups choosing this, but with apartments at 40% and hostel popularity slowly falling, will they soon lose that top spot?
Who is the more generous gender?
Are women more stingy than men?
Surprisingly, 89% of best men are happy to pay on behalf of their best mate. The maid of honour however, is much more likely to split the cost with the other girls with 63% choosing this option and only 16% generous enough to pay for the bride-to-be themselves. If you're the stag, congrats - you’ll most likely get away without paying a penny. The hen? Don’t be too surprised if you’re asked to pay your way.
Expected group size and costs
Average group size
How many people are you expecting for your stag or hen do? For stags, the average group size is 15.2, and for hens, it’s only slightly less at 13.8 and to us that sounds like a good crowd however to put this in perspective, our biggest ever stag do had 50 sun-seekers jetting off to Benidorm for £141pp each. Similarly, our biggest hen do sent 44 ladies to Bournemouth for £139pp.
10 years later...how much?
Back in 2008, it was hens that typically spent more on their partying, costing £99 per person compared with stags’ £91. Fast forward to 2018 and stags are deciding to go all-out and splash out on their stag dos, jumping up to £169.80 per person, with hens slightly behind at £125.14 but still celebrating in style. With more activities on offer than ever before, it’s no surprise.
The rise in bars that have turned into experiences
With the launch of tons of exciting new concepts, bars are no longer just for drinking - they’re entire experiences. We’ve seen the popular trend of crazy golf cocktail bars like Swingers and Urban Golf popping up. Alongside those, there are other social activities that pair perfectly with drinking, like the revival of darts at Flight Club and Bounce’s Olympic ping pong tables.
Going the extra mile
For a truly unforgettable experience, you might have to travel a couple of hours off the beaten track. Thankfully, that’s just what stags and hens have been doing, with more people choosing this over missing out. Some have even travelled as far as 151 miles for cave trampolining, with other top activities like Zip Wire Velocity, Wipeout, canyoning and white water rafting attracting people from all over.
The demand grows for a unique experience
People are looking for something different, something they can’t get anywhere else. That’s why there’s been a rise in unique, city-specific activities in the UK. From Brighton’s high-flying i360 experiences and Bath’s thermal spas to Birmingham’s thrilling Bear Grylls Adventure and London’s exclusive Twizy Tours, there’s so much to choose from. There are several popular It’s a Knockout-style challenges that celebrate their region, like the Welsh Games and West Country Games.
Activity trends are also on the move
Time to escape
The classic escape to the spa for a weekend isn’t enough for our hens anymore with the popularity of pamper days falling by 60% compared to 2017. Instead, hens are being more daring and testing their skills in escape rooms, jumping up 267% in the UK and 188% in Europe. Brunches are still a favourite, but now treasure hunts have grown in popularity by 74% as hens want to actually explore on foot instead of a cruise.
Stags are getting increasingly more active, particularly when staying in the UK where our jam-packed multi-activity days that combine multiple fun experiences have become 800% more popular in 2018. Rafting is also more popular, while bar crawls, surprisingly, have decreased by 20%. Are stags drinking less? Overseas in Europe, our stags are still all about the classic pranks and even boat parties, but with fewer strippers involved one may attribute this to a slightly more conservative booze consumption.
Who dares to share?
Are you one to upload?
What goes on tour, stays on tour! Seemingly not if you're on a 35-44 year old hen party. Surprising stat? You thought the stags were badly behaved but with a 73% chance of images being shared in this age group, it might be the hens that have something to hide. Oddly enough, for those over 45 the balance flips and the stags are back to their old tricks whereas you hens, you just like to show off.
Where do most hen photos inevitably end up? Facebook and Instagram are the favourites, as they’re perfectly designed for showing off your best (and worst) moments. Facebook is more about those special moments to share with friends and family, whereas Instagram is perfect for adding a filter and making you and the girls look even more glamorous.
The year ahead?
We can't predict the future but looking at the data it's fair to say the stag and hen sector is showing surprising strength in an industry blighted by downward pressure and so it's clearly encouraging and refreshing to see that despite what UK politics and our unpredictable economy can throw at a nation that one humble sector is still experiencing some truly happy times.
So we'll conclude this report with a tip of our hat to all of those stag and hen parties that have been and passed, but also to all of those yet to come and with more choice than ever before, we're sure that wherever you head, and no matter your interests that you'll be in for an amazing bash of your own.