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Livebookings: 'Restaurants are investing less time in cost-effective digital communications'
Websites such as Facebook and twitter have become powerful marketing tools for the restaurant business but new figures from Livebookings show that the number of companies in the sector engaging with them has fallen.
In H2 2012, 79% of restaurants said they were actively using Facebook to talk to customers, and 62% were using Twitter.
In H1 2013, however, this has fallen slightly, to 73% and 48% respectively.
Colin Tenwick, CEO of Livebookings, said the figures underlined the need for a longer-term strategy: “In an extremely busy industry like this, it’s easy to understand how short-term distractions mean restaurants get side-tracked and invest less time in longer-term strategy. However, one look at the behaviour of most diners shows the need for restaurants not to neglect these channels.
“Customers expect communication, and restaurants must make sure they are involved in the online discussion. The real winners from a testing time like this will be those who make the most of the latest technology.”
One area that restaurateurs should pay attention to is how customers book their reservations.
By the end of 2012, 33% of online bookings were made on smartphone and tablet devices, up from 13% at the end of 2011.
Despite the rapid adoption of mobile and smartphone usage, this area remains lower than expected on the list of priorities for restaurants. Only 40% currently optimise their website for mobile, and only 68% take online bookings.
Fewer restaurants have made themselves available for mobile bookings (40%) than are active on Twitter (48%) and fewer are open to online bookings (68%) than have a Facebook page (73%).
In all markets (UK, Germany and Sweden), the rise in mobile reservations exceeds the growth in online bookings. Online bookings have continue to grow but at half the rate of mobile.
In the UK alone online bookings have increased by 40% in the last year compared to a 105% year-on-year growth in mobile.
“A third (33%) of all online restaurant bookings now comes through mobile devices, a figure that will only rise with the introduction of 4G. The fact is, so many consumers now rely entirely on smartphones for communication and interaction with businesses, that restaurants risk cutting themselves off from both new and existing customers if they don’t join in,” said Tenwick.