Consumers are putting much more planning into their eating and drinking out since lockdown eased, CGA’s new Consumer Pulse survey shows—but the fresh emphasis on reservations is hitting the sector with a wave of no-shows.
The survey of 500 adults in England shows that only a quarter (28%) of consumers visited venues with no reservations in the ten days after hospitality reopened on Saturday 4 July. People also appear to be keeping visits short, with the average dwell time in venues little more than an hour (67 minutes).
But the research also shows that 5% of all adults in England have made a table reservation and didn’t turn up, without informing the venue. Another 5% made a table reservation, only to cancel. Put another way, among those who have gone out around one in six has failed to fulfil a reservation.
The news follows vocal complaints from high profile chefs including Tom Kerridge that no-shows are putting a huge dent in restaurants’ trade at a crucial time. Those who have not turned up for a booking cite embarrassment about cancelling and concerns about safety as reasons for failing to do so.
However the survey reveals an acceptance among consumers for mandatory deposits on pre-booking, in what may come as reassuring news to hospitality operators apprehensive about potentially putting off would-be visitors by charging up-front. Over half (58%) of English adults would be happy to pay a £5 per head deposit when making reservations, a figure that, surprisingly jumps to 78% for those consumers who had admitted to cancelling or not showing up for a reserved booking. There was a watch out however, in that 19% of the total sample suggested that such a scheme would be off-putting.
The Consumer Pulse survey has optimistic signs for hospitality’s recovery, with a third (34%) of consumers returning to the on-trade in the first ten days, and an increasing inclination to visit more than a single venue in a trip.
“The pandemic has triggered a seismic shift in consumer behaviour from spontaneity to planning,” says Rachel Weller, CGA’s Head of Consumer Research and Marketing. “This has positive implications for operators who can provide a smooth booking process and great experience—but unfortunately it will also increase the number of no-shows. Highlighting the damage this can do to recovering businesses, and convincing people that it is safe to eat out, may ease the problem—but it’s clear that all operators are going to need to adjust quickly to this new era of advance planning and mandatory deposits may just be the solution.”
CGA’s Consumer Pulse research will provide essential up-to-the-minute insights into behaviour as hospitality returns. To learn more, contact CGA’s consumer research executive Jess Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.