The study included insight from 2,000 nationally representative consumers who visit a bar, restaurant, pub or hotel once every six months.
It found consumers rely on digital tools and online reputation before, during and after their visit.
In the early stages of the consumer journey, a venue’s website, Google and Facebook are the most popular channels for discovery, booking and confirming Covid-19 safety measures. At the same time, social media platforms, along with ratings and review sites like TripAdvisor, are more commonly used during and after the visit.
It also revealed the 10 most important pieces of information for consumers in the digital journey, include menus, price range, opening hours, location/directions, how to make a booking, reviews, discounts and promotions, checking if a venue is currently open, Covid-19 safety measures and images and videos of food and drink served.
“Digital channels kept consumers and businesses connected over the past 18 months. Now, as businesses reopen their doors and consumers engage in more leisure activities, we are seeing those same platforms are providing a wealth of information that enhances the customer experience,” says Anthony Gaskell, Reputation’s EMEA managing director.
“The hospitality industry is competitive. Brands can set themselves apart by ensuring their website, Google listings, rating sites and social media profiles are accurate and engaging.”
The study also looked at the role reviews played in the customer journey, finding that nearly half of all consumers search for reviews (48%) on TripAdvisor, which beats Google (34%) and a venue’s website (27%).
However, it revealed brands targeting younger consumers should focus on Google because TripAdvisor is more popular for consumers aged 55 or older.
More than half of 18 to 34-year-olds said they were much more likely to visit a venue if they saw someone they know post about it on social media, and two thirds (67%) were more likely to go if food or drink images look good on those platforms.
“The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the use of technology in hospitality, and consumers and businesses alike have become much more confident in using it to engage with one another,” said Andy Dean, CGA client director.
“For all brands, understanding exactly how, where and when guests want to connect, and responding quickly and constructively to all the feedback they receive, are going to be crucial elements of reputation and marketing strategies in 2022 and beyond.”