More than a third (39 per cent) of the 100 restaurants surveyed don’t have a website and 25 per cent don’t promote their site anywhere on the internet.
This, says Livebookings, means they are invisible to the 53 per cent of consumers who research restaurants online before reserving a table.
Restaurateurs who don’t use the internet to promote their restaurant are potentially damaging their long-term prospects by missing out on both customers and revenue, it says.
Independents not adapting
Major chains such as Giraffe, YO! Sushi and Pizza Express have seen a positive impact on bookings since embracing technology, and there are worries that independents are not adapting quickly enough to fundamental shifts in customer behaviour.
Those that do promote their restaurant are not necessarily doing so in the correct places.
Most of the 2,000 customers surveyed said they usually know what they want to eat but won’t know where, so 66 per cent will frequently use generic search terms such as ‘Italian in Leicester’.
SEO and e-mail marketing
To get these bookings, operators need to utilise Search Engine Optimisation, but only 42 per cent are doing so and 23 per cent have never checked how easy their site is to find online.
The research also found that 45 per cent of restaurants don’t send any emails to previous customers, despite a third of all diners being happy to hear from them once a month. There are clear benefits in doing so: one in four of consumers have visited a restaurant in the past month as a result of an email offer.
“It’s clear from this research that the internet is playing an increasingly important role in how consumers are finding and booking restaurants,” says Miles Quest at the British Hospitality Association.
“We would advise restaurants across the UK to carefully consider how successful their online activity is and, if it’s either non-existent or not performing strongly, to act swiftly. The numbers of diners searching online is only going to increase.”
Find more information in our Online Marketing feature here.
On Monday, BigHospitality will publish top tips from an industry expert on using social media for a marketing campaign. Keep your eye on our Ask the Experts feature for more.