Convenience is no longer a luxury in today’s rapidly evolving digital age; it’s an expectation. Australia and New Zealand have grown accustomed to having the world at their fingertips, from ultra-fast food delivery to booking a taxi with a single tap. This substantial shift towards convenience has particularly affected the hospitality industry.
As diners seek experiences that seamlessly integrate with their on-demand lifestyle, restaurants are presented with both incredible opportunities and daunting challenges. Among the most significant changes are the diverse ways customers can book a restaurant, for example through social media. Th challenge lies in the way restaurants must be prepared to fulfil the requirement of round-the-clock accessibility.
Reservation software by ResDiary empowers restaurants to maximise and automate their bookings with seamlessly integrated software. This article will delve into a September 2023 analysis of ResDiary’s booking trends data to highlight diners' preferences and offer insights into how restaurant owners can strategically plan to maximise their bookings.
ResDiary Restaurant Booking Data Trends
ResDiary has analysed its booking data from 2021 to 2023 across various venue types to conclude the top trends a restaurant can take advantage of. Here are the findings:
1. Social Media dominates online bookings
Social media bookings have experienced a substantial surge, more than doubling in prevalence since the year 2021. In the current landscape, these bookings now constitute a noteworthy 3.8% of all reservations, marking a significant upswing from the relatively modest 1.15% figure recorded just two years ago.
This surge in social media-driven reservations highlights the evolving behaviour of diners, who are increasingly turning to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to secure their dining experiences. Restaurants are witnessing a shift in how customers engage with their brands, emphasising the importance of a robust and accessible online presence to capitalise on this emerging trend.
2. Special occasion bookings overlooked
ResDiary's data analysis uncovers a noteworthy inconsistency in the classification of bookings. Astonishingly, over 90% of reservations are logged by staff as standard bookings. This inadvertently disregards the significant notes provided by customers, signifying special occasions during their visit.
These notes are, in essence, virtual breadcrumbs that provide insights into customers' intentions to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or significant event at the restaurant. These notes hold the potential to significantly enhance the overall customer experience. By neglecting these indicators, there is a missed opportunity to personalise and elevate the dining experience for these guests, potentially leading to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
3. Website bookings doubled
A striking revelation from ResDiary's data analysis is the significant upswing in reservations conducted directly through restaurant websites. This remarkable shift is primarily attributable to ResDiary's integrated reservation widget, which has streamlined the booking process, making it more convenient and efficient for both diners and restaurant owners.
In the year 2023, bookings originating from restaurant websites experienced a phenomenal increase, capturing a substantial share of 31.6% of the total reservations. This represents a substantial surge compared to the 13.45% observed in 2021, signifying a doubling of online booking through this channel in just two years.
This trend reflects an increasing inclination among patrons to engage directly with restaurant websites, bypassing third-party platforms. Diners are demonstrating a growing trust in the online booking systems provided by restaurants themselves, finding them to be reliable and user-friendly.
For restaurants, this trend underscores the importance of maintaining an up-to-date and user-friendly website with an integrated booking system. By offering a seamless online reservation experience, establishments can cater to the preferences of modern diners, capture a larger share of bookings, and foster stronger customer relationships. It's a clear indication that investing in technology that enhances the customer experience can yield significant rewards in today's competitive dining landscape.
4. Don’t abandon traditional booking methods
As the hospitality sector undergoes a profound transformation, it's essential to recognise the enduring significance of traditional booking methods. Conventional channels such as walk-ins and phone reservations maintain their steadfast position, contributing significantly to the overall booking landscape.
There remains a place for the timeless charm of personal interaction and the comfort of traditional approaches. These tried-and-true methods collectively account for a substantial 58% of all bookings, emphasising their enduring appeal and relevance.
Walk-ins, for instance, offer spontaneity and a sense of adventure, allowing diners to explore culinary delights without prior planning. Phone reservations, on the other hand, provide a human touch and a direct line of communication between the restaurant and its patrons. This personal interaction can be invaluable in addressing specific requests, dietary preferences, or special occasions.
Utilising software such as ResPhone, allows restaurants to be available for customer bookings 24/7 with a personalised recorded message. Restaurants can modernise whilst not losing the charm of the classic booking experience.
5. Customer loyalty is not fostered to its full potential
Over the course of a mere six months, a striking pattern emerges within the realm of restaurant bookings. An overwhelming majority of patrons, up to 94%, do not return to a restaurant. In contrast, a relatively small percentage, approximately 1.5% to 1.7%, choose to return for a second booking. This intriguing data unveils a dual dynamic that both challenges and presents an exciting opportunity for venues.
Firstly, it underscores the challenge: Restaurants must work diligently to create exceptional dining experiences that leave an impression, compelling patrons to return. In a competitive landscape, capturing the hearts and palates of customers requires more than just a delectable menu; it demands flawless service, ambience, and memorable moments that transcend a single visit.
On the other hand, this data reveals a substantial opportunity. It signifies that a significant portion of diners remains untapped, representing a vast reservoir of potential repeat customers. For restaurants, this presents a canvas on which to paint experiences that resonate long after the first taste, cultivating lasting loyalty.
To achieve this, restaurants must focus on consistently delivering excellence, personalisation, and a touch of surprise that keeps patrons coming back for more. Harnessing data insights, refining service quality, and fostering a genuine connection with customers can transform that initial reservation into a lifelong dining journey. Especially important for restaurants navigating high inflation challenges in Australia and New Zealand.
In the end, it's not just about the meal; it's about crafting unforgettable moments that inspire loyalty and devotion, ensuring that every visit is a cherished memory in the making.
How can restaurants maximise bookings?
In the competitive landscape of the restaurant industry, maximising bookings is paramount to sustained success. It's not merely about preparing delectable dishes; it's also about ensuring those dishes find their way to eager diners' tables. The ability to effectively manage reservations can be the difference between a bustling establishment and an empty dining room.
1. Website reservation booking widget
Before making a reservation, most diners typically visit a restaurant's website. Simplify the booking process and enhance accessibility for your customers by implementing a booking widget. While there are numerous straightforward booking widgets designed for restaurants, the ideal solution would involve integrating a widget with your table management software. This seamless connection ensures a smoother booking experience and more efficient management of reservations.
The ResDiary booking widget allows you to
- Automate reservations 24/7 and allocate tables to bookings
- Customise for your brand and website
- Take a table holding fee to reduce no-shows
- Send automated reminders to your customers for extra service and to ensure tables are filled
2. Google Business Profile
A Google Business Profile (GBP) offers an excellent platform for restaurant owners to enhance their online presence in search results and map listings. Restaurant owners should ensure their GBP is up to date with:
- Accurate location information such as address, contact and opening hours
- Photos and menus to entice diners
- FAQs - Business owners can input and address their own inquiries, alongside those from customers. Take charge of the narrative by optimising this section.
- Reviews - Engage with your customers to continually deliver an excellent dining experience and build brand loyalty
- Booking widget - take bookings direct from your GBP to increase accessibility and ease with your diners
ResDiary reservation software can integrate with your Google Business Profile to ensure a seamless process from reaching your customers to allocating your table seating plan.
3. Social media bookings
Social media can attract a broader audience, especially in the hospitality industry. With captivating food reels to user-generated content like customer photos and reviews, restaurants have a prime opportunity to promote their experience online.
Facilitate a seamless reservation experience by allowing them to book a table straight after watching a mouth-watering reel or scrolling through a blogger's reviews. ResDiary has an integration with Meta, so restaurants can simply add a booking button to their Instagram and Facebook profiles. You can effortlessly guide enthralled viewers to become satisfied diners with just a few clicks.
4. 24-hour phone reservation
As shown in ResDiary’s data findings, traditional phone reservations remain timeless in the digital age. With the move to new technology, restaurants should not forget about diners who like to make phone reservations, especially for last-minute bookings.
Integrating a 24-hour phone reservation system allows diners to call anytime and secure a table. ResPhone allows restaurants to personalise their phone experience and streamline the table management process.
5. Integrate with directories
Connecting with popular directories like DishCult, Timeout, Tripadvisor and Yelp presents an opportunity to swiftly turn readers into happy diners. Placing a booking widget right where potential customers are exploring your restaurant can significantly boost reservation possibilities.
With ResDiary reservation software, there's no need to clutter your system with multiple widgets. It seamlessly integrates with various platforms, streamlining your diners into a centralised table management system. This not only conserves valuable time and resources but also ensures a hassle-free and attentive customer experience that leaves a lasting impression. 6. Promote your menu
In the digital age, where informed decisions rule, potential diners habitually browse menus before making reservations. It's become a communal ritual too, with friends and family sharing menu highlights in group chats, creating buzz and anticipation. By showcasing your menu, you not only satiate curiosity but also tantalise taste buds.
A well-presented menu can be the persuasive nudge that compels a booking, providing a glimpse into the delightful journey that awaits. It's not just about enticing taste; it's about inspiring dining adventures and driving bookings in the process. Promote your menu on:
- Your website
- Google business profile
- Social Media
6. Offer special occasion incentives
ResDiary's data reveals a missed opportunity within the restaurant industry—overlooking the "special occasion" section when diners make reservations. By acknowledging and utilising this valuable information, restaurants can elevate the booking experience to new heights. Offering tailored incentives and surprises for special occasions demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction that not only delights diners but also encourages them to return and spread the word.
Promoting special occasion incentives can tell diners that they won’t just have a dining experience, they will have a cherished memory. Some incentives could be:
- Complimentary glass of bubbly
- Free dessert
- Gift or keepsake - also a great opportunity to further market your restaurant
- Post-dining offer to encourage return bookings
7. Build a loyalty program
Developing a robust loyalty program can be a game-changer for restaurants seeking to boost bookings. By offering rewards, discounts, or exclusive perks, you not only foster loyalty but also encourage patrons to return more frequently. A consistent flow of repeat customers can stabilise revenue and amplify word-of-mouth recommendations.
With ResDiary, you can attract new and returning customers with their integrated gift vouchers. Showcase the best your venue has to offer and set your venue apart as a luxury gift.
8. Offer reservation upgrades
To enhance restaurant bookings, offering reservation upgrades is a savvy strategy. These upgrades can provide diners with an elevated and more personalized experience, enticing them to book. Options might include
- exclusive seating choices
- special occasion packages
- priority service
- Special menus
Such enhancements not only cater to varied preferences but also drive customer loyalty. By upselling these upgrades, restaurants not only increase their revenue per booking but also create memorable experiences that patrons are likely to share and return for. It's a win-win approach that enriches the customer journey and boosts the restaurant's bottom line.
9. Analyse your booking data
Analysing booking data is a powerful strategy for restaurants aiming to optimise their operations and boost bookings. By delving into this data, restaurants can uncover valuable insights into customer preferences, peak booking times, and seasonal trends. This information empowers them to tailor their offerings, staffing, and marketing efforts more effectively.
ResDiary recently analysed the booking trends for public holidays in Australia and created a hospitality guide to maximise bookings. Reservation software allows you to analyse data at your fingertips which may otherwise be lost on pen and paper bookings.
10. Implement a waitlist
Implementing a waitlist system is a smart strategy for restaurants. It optimises seating, ensuring full tables during peak hours, increasing revenue, and minimising the impact of no-show reservations. This approach enhances the customer experience by offering potential diners the option to wait for a table, demonstrating a commitment to their business. Positive experiences from those who join the waitlist translate to word-of-mouth referrals, attracting more customers over time. Additionally, accommodating waitlist guests can turn them into loyal repeat patrons, fostering long-term success.
ResDiary W8list app guarantees that your tables are never double-booked and enhances your customer service by optimising guest seating and giving priority to VIPs. By utilising the W8List™ to include customers, you'll never miss a chance to accommodate walk-in guests effectively and efficiently.
The takeaway on restaurant bookings
Despite the rapidly changing market trends, there is a huge opportunity for restaurants to expand their reach and increase bookings. By focusing on customer’s preferences and tailoring the customer experience to emerging technologies, the hospitality industry can thrive in the digital age.
With comprehensive reservation software like ResDiary, restaurants are able to seamlessly consolidate various booking platforms into one centralised table management system. This not only provides control of the restaurant brand, voice and customer experience, it also ensures around-the-clock accessibility.
Investing in reservation technology improves customer trust and experience and in turn, maximises the reservation potential. Staying both customer-centric and tech-savvy is the key to a restaurant's success.