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Digital influence grows as Brits turn to Google for venue recommendations

Published:  29 April, 2024

In a digital age where choices abound, Brits are increasingly relying on the digital sphere, particularly Google, for recommendations on hospitality venues, reveals insight consultancy, KAM.

According to the latest ‘Plan to Plate’ research report, conducted in collaboration with customer engagement platform Paytronix, a significant 30% of respondents indicated they kickstart their venue exploration with a general internet search. Notably, 20% are regular users of the ‘Google Near Me’ search tool. Surprisingly, the once-trusted method of seeking recommendations from friends and family has seen a decline, with less than a quarter (23%) now turning to personal connections for suggestions.

Katie Jenkins, MD at KAM said: “The research confirms that the hospitality decision-making process is increasingly digitally driven. Whether it’s a general Google search, perusal of online review sites or engagement on social media, the trend spans across age groups. 

“Ensuring robust online visibility represents a significant opportunity for operators to sway potential customers positively during the crucial research phase.”

Meanwhile, quarterly feedback from 1,000 hospitality customers indicates a notable shift in consumer behaviour, with a substantial increase in the number of UK adults willing to venture into new venues. In 2021, 39% preferred 'places they've been before', whereas the figure has dropped to just 23% in 2024.

The study also highlights the rising influence of social media and email marketing in driving impromptu visits to venues. 10% of respondents cited receiving promotional emails from hospitality venues as a catalyst for spontaneous outings, while 13% were influenced by social media updates indicating friends or family going out.

The ‘Plan to Plate’ report also sheds light on the varied needs and preferences of certain customer groups, highlighting potential areas for improvement in the hospitality sector. For instance, among the ‘Golden Years’ (65+) demographic, more than one in ten individuals reported difficulties reading the menu, while a similar proportion felt ‘too old’ for the atmosphere. Additionally, 29% cited loud music as a turn-off.

The current reality in terms of customer experience

During the past three months, several trends emerged in the customer experience landscape:

  • 26% of customers noticed that venues were short-staffed
  • 24% reported encountering unavailable menu items
  • 22% expressed dissatisfaction with the time taken for food and drinks to arrive.

Influencing Food/Drink Choice

Three-quarters of customers make decisions about food and drinks when they are in the venue, with 56% browsing the food and drinks menu before arriving. These rates are even higher among Gen Z and parents with young children.

The Current Reality in Venues

Purchasing Experience: One in five craft beer drinkers feel overwhelmed by choice, while a similar proportion lack confidence in ordering wine. Additionally, one in nine customers find choosing wine intimidating.

Missed Opportunities: A significant proportion of customers opt for tap water instead of alcohol, leading to missed revenue opportunities estimated at £800m per year.

Preferences When Ordering Drinks

A total of 43% prefer something they know and trust, while 38% seek something refreshing. Furthermore, 16% indulge in something indulgent or a treat, and 15% opt for something with low or no alcohol. An additional 13% look for something that excites them.

Additionally, 65% of customers are open to recommendations from staff when ordering food or drinks.

For a summary of the research from KAM, in partnership with Paytronix click here.