Social media and website bookings now account for 36% of all bookings, experiencing a growth surge of more than double since 2021.

This forms part of ResDiary’s newest analysis into booking insights, indicating that venues could be overseeing and missing booking opportunities.

The hospitality industry is experiencing a seismic shift in the way people are making bookings, this stand-out trend is a notable aspect of Australian’s growing demand for convenience and customers wishing to take charge of their own dining plans. This poses the question as to whether venues are putting the right amount of investment into their booking resources or leaving money on the table and missing opportunities.

Rebecca Zeitunian, APAC Regional Head of Growth, said the recent analysis of booking trends highlights the changing preferences of diners, and the strategic approaches venues are making to accommodate these shifts.

“The insights show social media has become a pivotal driver in bookings with platforms like Instagram and Facebook having an increasing role in shaping dining decisions. Special occasions also play a big role in customers intent for booking yet our data highlights a disparity between the types of venues which choose to record special occasions for a more personalised customer experience.”

Here are ResDiary’s five booking insights that venues could be missing out on.

  1. Rise of Social Media Bookings 

ResDiary data shows social media bookings have more than doubled since 2021, making up for 3.8% of all bookings, compared to 1.15% in 2021.

At the Dove & Olive Hotel in Surry Hills, social media has become their primary tool for advertising where they can both target and spread information to a big audience quicky.

Publican Chris Deale says, “over the last few years social media has generated consistent bookings for our venue, especially for our special offer days like Sunday Roast or Trivia Night, without it we’d be losing bookings”.

  1. Unseen Special Occasion Bookings

ResDiary’s data analysis reveals a discrepancy in the recording of special occasion bookings. Surprisingly, more than 90% of bookings are recorded by employees as standard reservations, overlooking the valuable notes left by customers indicating a celebratory nature of their visit that could potentially enhance future customer experience.

Chris Deale acknowledged the pivotal role special occasions play in shaping bookings. However, recognises it’s a balancing act between operations and customer personalisation.

  1. The Power of Convenience

Another significant trend revealed is the doubling of bookings made directly through venues websites made possible by ResDiary’s inbuilt reservation widget. In 2023, website bookings accounted for 31.6% of bookings in 2023, making a substantial leap from 13.45% in 2021.

Chris Deale noted this trend was most likely due to more and more people becoming comfortable and even preferring to book themselves.

“Our customers value convenience and prefer to book on their own terms. Our website is where our customer journey starts, we aim for a user-friendly experience that prominently displays ‘Book’,” says Deale.

  1. There’s still a place for traditional booking methods

While digital methods are reshaping the booking landscape as hospitality embraces automation, there still is a place for traditional booking methods. Traditional channels, including walk-ins and phone calls, continue to contribute significantly, accounting for the lions share at 58% of all bookings. For venues like the Duck and Olive Hotel the advantage of ResDiary’s booking system is to properly plan and to fill in any booking gaps with walk-ins or last-minute reservation requests.

  1. Fostering loyalty 

Remarkably, within a six-month window, a significant 87% of customers make just one booking at the same venue, while 7.5% of customers return for a second experience. This highlights the challenge and opportunity for venues to capture the hearts and palates of customers and foster lasting loyalty.

The compelling insights uncovered by ResDiary present opportunities for venues to redefine their strategies to secure the maximum bookings before heading into the busiest time of year.