The figures demonstrate how social media channels are becoming a close competitor to Google, which is used by 79% of consumers to search for venues.
Data from the report shows 80% of consumers now use at least one social media platform and a third of these (31%) use such channels to book tables at pubs and restaurants, demonstrating an opportunity for the sector to capitalise. This number increases to 53% among 18 to 24-year-olds.
Further figures from the report show:
- 48% of consumers look on social media for recommendations of places to eat and drink out
- 33% of consumers use social media to book a table at a pub or restaurant
- 38% of those that currently don’t, would consider using social media to book a table at a pub or restaurant
- 33% of consumers that don’t use social media to look for venues would consider ordering takeaway or food to be delivered via social media
The research also revealed an opportunity for venues to drive reservations via virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant in the not-too-distant future. The devices are increasingly common in UK households – with the research revealing 50% of consumers now own a virtual assistant, rising to 72% for 18 to 24-year-olds. Almost half (47%) of virtual assistant owners use their devices for research, including searching for a venue and nearly a third (30%) of consumers said that reserving a table via an assistant would be quicker and more convenient than other methods.
However, older consumers are less likely to engage with a venue or reserve a table online with 75% of people aged 45 or over never using Google to search for places to eat and drink out.
Karl Chessell, CGA director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “This research confirms the huge importance of social media and web searches to pubs, bars and restaurants – not just in promoting venues but in generating bookings and sales. With consumers living more and more of their lives on Facebook, Google and other platforms, these are the battlegrounds on which marketers must now compete for brand awareness, loyalty and spend.
“It’s interesting to see the soaring importance of both visual social media like Instagram and TikTok and virtual assistants, and these are vital places to connect with young adults in particular. Here and elsewhere, engaging and authentic content, seamless integration of booking facilities and a close eye on emerging technologies and trends will be essential in 2022 and beyond.”
Zonal chief marketing and sales officer Olivia FitzGerald added: “Booking ahead became a necessity during the pandemic but even with restrictions lifted this trend is here to stay. With more people using the likes of Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Google for recommendations, having a booking system that can be linked to these online platforms is key. Marketers that use this space to effectively communicate with customers will be able to reap the benefits, maximising reservations and keeping customers engaged for the long-term.”