Pre-bookings: Five insights from CGA by NIQ BrandTrack

With so many consumers now preferring advance bookings over spontaneous visits, new BrandTrack research from CGA by NIQ reveals the insights that venues need to maximise their share of this lucrative market. 

Here are just five of the top takeaways from the latest survey.


1 Bookings continue to grow 

BrandTrack shows three in five (60%) consumers have booked a table to eat out in the last six months, while more than a quarter (28%) have done so for drinks. Three quarters have either been pre-booking more often than last year (20%) or at the same level (56%), while only 24% have been reserving tables less frequently. 


2 Celebrations are the most popular occasions for reservations 

Two thirds (67%) of consumers say they are likely to pre-book their celebratory events at restaurants, pubs and bars. This makes them the most popular type of occasion for reservations, ahead of date-night dinners (58%) and bottomless brunches (38%). People are much less likely to book when visiting the On Premise for nightclub drinks packages (16%) and screenings of sport events (25%). 


3 Guests want to be sure they’ll get space 

More than half (54%) of consumers who pre-book say they do so because they know the venue is usually very busy. Securing space is particularly important on special occasions, so venues that promote their ability to cater for celebrations and make it simple to reserve space are likely to gain share of bookings. 


4 There are mixed views on deposits 

A downside of advance bookings is the risk of no-shows, which doubled in 2023 and cost the sector nearly £18bn, according to research from CGA and Zonal. Deposits can be a useful way to reduce no-shows, and most consumers acknowledge that they are a safeguarding tool for venues. Well over half (58%) say they aren’t discouraged by having to pay a deposit upfront, and nearly as many (55%) aren’t put off by having to leave card details. However, well over a quarter are discouraged from pre-booking by both deposits (28%) and requests for card details (32%).  


5 Trust is important 

There is clearly some way to go before deposits become universally accepted, but venues can help by establishing trust and security. Two in five (42%) consumers say they dislike deposits because they don’t trust websites with their card details, while 31% prefer to have the flexibility to change plans late on without financial penalty.


Andy Dean, client director at CGA by NIQ, said: “Consumers’ preferences for bookings dramatically accelerated during COVID trading restrictions, and they have continued their habits long after lockdowns. Making it easy to book space, and finding ways to reduce the risk of no-shows, are two quick routes to extra sales and greater loyalty, and our BrandTrack data is the ideal starting point for understanding the needs and motivations of these planning-focused guests.” 



CGA by NIQ’s exclusive BrandTrack service surveys a nationally representative sample of 5,000 consumers to provide powerful insights into all aspects of people’s engagement with hospitality venues that can help operators and suppliers respond to needs and grow sales. To learn more about BrandTrack, click here and contact Andy Dean here.

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