Quarter Of Diners Will Only Return To Venues They Know And Love Post-Local Lockdowns

Majority of diners identify as more safety-conscious than friends or family, but half say nothing will stop them from turning up for a booking

With tougher measures being placed on hospitality venues in COVID hotpots across the country, a new study from SevenRooms, a data-driven guest experience platform for the hospitality industry, has revealed that half (51%) of UK consumers believe they are generally more cautious than their friends and family when it comes to visiting pubs, bars and restaurants.

The ‘COVID Confidence Report’, which polled a representative sample of 2,214 UK consumers through YouGov, indicates the varied impact a second round of closures could have on guest confidence when venues reopen, showing how hospitality operators need to adapt and cater to a wider range of dining personas and experiences post-pandemic:

  • Cautiously Committed: 1 in 4 (26%) diners said they would only book a restaurant that they had been to previously, and only once they felt comfortable enough with the existing COVID-related plans and procedures to do so
  • Safety Savvy: 18% would only book with venues where they felt confident in the health and safety measures put in place after it has been reopened for a month, while 15% wouldn’t book until longer than a month after reopening
  • Delivery Devotees: For 13% of diners, contactless delivery will be the favoured option over going to a restaurant when local lockdowns are lifted
  • Carefree Connoisseurs: 10% of UK consumers would book a restaurant as soon as restrictions were lifted no matter what, while 8% would do so but only with restaurants they had visited previously

The study also examines the issue of venue ‘no shows’, revealing that half (51%) of UK consumers say that nothing would prevent them from turning up for a booking and failing to cancel. However, COVID-19-related safety worries are a notable driving force behind others failing to honour a reservation:

  • Social distancing – more than 1 in 4 (27%) UK consumers would no show if a venue looked crowded, while 22% would be put off if tables weren’t spaced two metres apart
  • Local infection rates – for a quarter (24%), an increase in infections in the local area would cause them to no show
  • Health and safety – more than 1 in 5 (23%) wouldn’t show up if they read reviews ahead of a booking and saw negative comments regarding the venue’s approach to health and safety, while 18% would be put off if a venue didn’t meet a guest’s safety standards – even if that venue was adhering to government guidelines
  • Last-minute decision-makers – just 3% admit that they would no show as a result of making multiple bookings and then deciding last-minute on where to go

With face coverings now mandatory for all hospitality staff in the UK, the report reveals that such safety measures are a fundamental part of many guests’ comfort and enjoyment of the overall restaurant experience. Poor adherence to the rules could impact diners’ longer-term view of an establishment and put revenues at risk:

  • More than one in three (38%) Brits would raise the issue with a member of staff if another team member wasn’t wearing a face covering
  • Just under a third (30%) would tell friends and family about the lack of staff PPE, especially if they were likely to consider visiting, while a similar proportion (29%) would not return to the venue again
  • 19% would reference the lack of face coverings as part of their review or feedback following the visit
  • 17% of respondents would speak to those they were with to see how comfortable they felt first before deciding whether to take action, while 11% claim they wouldn’t take any action at all as staff without face masks would not bother them

“With restrictions being reintroduced in certain areas of the country, operators need to ensure they are equipped to meet the evolving customer needs that come with these new rules and regulations,” says Danilo Mangano, General Manager Europe at SevenRooms. “While consumers are evidently craving on-premise experiences, they are also understandably cautious, which has a large impact on their behaviour as they return to dining out. Operators need to show guests that they understand and have the systems in place to respond to their changing wants and needs. They can do most effectively by continuing to leverage data insights to personalise offerings that make guests feel confident in their experiences, whether they are ordering delivery or making a reservation.”

“With these changes in mind, building and maintaining direct relationships with guests is more important than ever. Loyal customers are the bedrock of success and will be eager to support venues that provide unique and personalised experiences. Beyond that, however, where guests may be warier about visiting, a direct dialogue and tailored communications provide an opportunity to put diners’ minds at ease around what to expect, reducing the propensity for no shows and ultimately encouraging them to rebook.”