Those are some of the messages from CGA’s latest Consumer Pulse survey, which provides extensive insights into the habits of people returning to pubs, bars and restaurants in England. With space at a premium and consumers returning confidently to the On Premise, CGA’s research suggests many outdoor areas have been very busy. This has prompted drinkers and diners to plan their visits in advance, and nearly three quarters (73%) of those who went out during the first week said they had reserved tables before doing so.
However, one in seven (14%) consumers have not fulfilled their bookings. While some cancelled their reservations ahead of time, around one in 12 (8%) admits to being a no-show after failing to tell their venue they would not be visiting.
No-shows have been a major operational challenge for operators who are trying to balance a limited supply of tables with high demand from consumers. Some have been caused by the unpredictably of the spring weather, and consumers deciding that conditions aren’t good enough to sit outside. But a significant number of consumers also admit to over-booking—reserving places at multiple venues with the intention of cancelling or skipping some of them.
The Consumer Pulse survey shows that well over a third of no-shows either forgot to cancel (23%) or ‘couldn’t be bothered’ to do so (13%). A quarter (27%) claimed they had tried to cancel bookings but weren’t able to reach the outlet, while 17% said they were embarrassed about cancelling. This suggests some operators might need to do more to help consumers cancel, and give themselves a chance to replace lost bookings.
“Pubs, bars and restaurants have worked so hard to reopen under tough conditions and with limited space; the last thing they need are cancellations and, even worse, no-shows,” says Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director, hospitality operators and food EMEA. “It’s a tricky problem to solve, but bookings are going to be at the core of operations for a long time to come. Venues may need to consider and communicate new policies around their reservation terms, and make it as easy as possible for people to cancel so they can reallocate valuable space.”
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