OpenTable’s Diner Data: Helping restaurants plan for the 2021 festive season

dining out

The festive season has well and truly begun. That means it’s time to get in the celebratory mood and, most importantly, boost diner numbers at your restaurant and fill your tables. Diners are planning to make the most of this Christmas and New Year, spending time out and about toasting to friends and family at restaurants.

In fact, they can’t wait to eat out this Christmas. That’s the leading takeaway from OpenTable’s latest diner survey, which asked over 1,100 people on OpenTable’s diner network about their plans for the festive season and how they’d like to celebrate. Below, we’ve highlighted some key stats from the survey about what people are doing now and what they’re likely to do over the upcoming, all-important festive season.

Eating out is popular with diners

One Christmas experience doesn’t seem to be enough, however – diners are ready to sample restaurants several times throughout the festive season. Sixty-two per cent of those surveyed plan on eating out between two to five times this winter, with a further 41 per cent keen to book somewhere at least a month in advance.

Give diners a reason to get excited about your dishes by sharing menus online. Doing so can incentivise them to book and pay in advance, especially as 63 per cent of guests say they’re willing to pre-pay to secure a table this Christmas.

They’re looking for a unique Christmas experience

This time of year is one of the busiest for restaurants, and there’s a strong desire to make up for lost time brought on by lockdowns and restrictions. It seems as if the pandemic is edging towards the back of people’s minds, with more than half of diners saying that Covid hasn’t affected their willingness to go to restaurants.

There’s plenty of enthusiasm heading into 2022. Your restaurant has a great opportunity to capture the positive mood this Christmas by offering unique dining experiences, whether it’s a special festive menu, wintry afternoon tea or other tailored moments specifically curated for diners.

Word of mouth is important

Seventy per cent of those surveyed said they would visit a restaurant based on the recommendations of friends and family, while almost half use OpenTable to find a spot to eat. Being visible is important this Christmas, as it lets diners experience new places and others recommend your spot to new guests.

Boost your marketing efforts this season with email communications to previous diners, letting them know you’re ready to offer a Christmas experience to remember – don’t forget to tell them to spread the word. And use OpenTable to increase visibility among guests on the lookout for special festive moments.

Get prepared for the festive season

This data can’t tell you everything about how the coming festive season will go, but it can help take some of the guesswork out of predicting diner behaviour. The next two months probably won’t be exactly like pre-pandemic times, but the data indicates that diners are showing a strong appetite for eating out throughout the winter. And you’ll be ready.

Get Christmas ready with the full diner survey and checklist.