The UK’s hospitality industry has been through a turbulent year, and everyone reading this article is probably fed up with the ‘c-word’ by now. Nevertheless, the industry rolls on, and as we head into the winter months and New Year, we don’t really know what to expect.
What we can do, however, is look back and see what we can learn from 2020 so far, and then use this information to plan ahead as best we can.
Reputation.com’s Data Science Team has analysed the digital trends from reviews and Google My Business lists of over 4,500 pubs and restaurants in the UK to piece together the top 10 data trends that matter for the sector.
As well as a handy report that lists all 10 trends and then highlights some key actions you should take off the back of them. We’re also running a live webinar on Monday 2nd November to discuss the results and what they really mean for you. Whether you’re a multi-pub or restaurant operator, or a single location business, both the report and webinar will be of great help to you.
What are our Top 5 Findings?
1. Google reviews were paused during the peak of the pandemic. As a result, venues saw a rapid decline in review volume and reached its lowest level in June. Whilst Google assured businesses that even though reviews play a massive role in their local search algorithm, local SEO rankings would not be affected by a sudden drop in reviews, a 99% drop in volume caused concern to many.
In July, reviews came back online, and we saw similar results to the same period in 2019, but still lower than pre-lockdown.
2. Whilst reviews and online feedback may not have been, or may be, your biggest concern right now, there’s a ton of information available if you’re looking in the right places. As restaurants reopened, more reviews were positive, in fact 20% more reviews were positive immediately after lockdown. Customers were likely pleased with the changes that venues had put in place to reopen, and to safeguard customers.
3. A new sentiment category appeared which, as you can guess, meant that venues started seeing COVID-19-specific reviews coming in. They first appeared in March, are mainly positive, and average 4.3 stars out of 5 each time they come in. Again, customers are likely to be happy to be able to go out for a drink or a meal, and respect the changes that venues have put in place to enable them to reopen in the first place.
4. Google My Business impressions saw a massive 92% drop in impressions during the peak of lockdown. Fewer people searched for restaurants, menus, opening hours or contact information and this had a knock-on effect with GMB. There was no need to look online for a restaurant or pub when nationally they were closed, of course. Whilst yet to properly recover from pre-COVID levels, impression numbers are back on the rise and should be part of your online focus once again.
5. As impressions rise on your GMB pages, your conversions are too! We’re seeing 3x as many clicks-to-websites from GMB, as well as big rises in clicks-to-call and clicks-to-directions.
What can you do? Can You Do?
Simply staying open and paying your staff is of course your main focus right now. However, if you’re able to give some attention to your online presence, you’ll see the benefits over the coming weeks and months. Guests are going to be posting online about your COVID-19 precautions, so ensure that what you’re doing is up-to-scratch. The overall sentiment we’ve seen has definitely been in support of the UK’s hospitality sector. Whether it’s for larger chains or independent businesses, people want to help out.
Make sure that you’re still taking the time to acknowledge and respond to your inbound reviews, as well as requesting them where you can to keep that volume high on your GMB pages. Also, whilst there are many places you can engage with your customers and community, for the time being, make Google your priority. We’re not saying to completely ignore everywhere else, but your time is valuable and you should prioritise where your customers are and where they’re looking, and that is Google.
Learn more with Reputation.com
Remember that your online feedback and data is only as valuable as the actions you take from it. With this in mind, be sure to download the full 6-page quick-take report, ‘Top 10 Data Trends That Matter For Hospitality’ here. And don’t forget to register and join us on Monday 2nd November for a 30-minute webinar with Bruce McKay, Director of Solution Engineering — EMEA at Reputation.com, who helped gather and analyse the data for the report. Bruce will also be joined by Gary Banks, one of Reputation.com’s Directors of Enterprise Sales to discuss how these actions listed in the report translate through to the day-to-day running of your business.