50% of all Valentine's Day bookings are made last minute

In the past two years, 50% of all bookings for the most romantic day of the year were made in the three days before Valentine’s Day (from 11th-14th February). A whopping 1 in 5 people book their table on the day itself, and with current 2024 booking data seeming to be in line with 2023 patterns, operators can expect a similar rush of last-minute bookings for 2024.

In terms of total bookings, there was over 100% increase in reservations made for Valentine’s Day 2023 compared to 2022. Whilst this demonstrates the impact COVID-19 continued to have on the industry, this also shows that the day remains an important one in the hospitality calendar, and operators should still see 14th February as a golden opportunity to drive bookings, footfall, and revenue.

The findings highlight the importance of having the tools in place to show live availability of tables and to accommodate seamless and simple bookings right until the last minute. As well as this, keeping a few tables back to facilitate walk-ins on the day might be useful to operators, for the more spontaneous.

Commenting, Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal, said: “Our insights suggest that Valentine’s Day 2024 will follow previous trends for a rush of last-minute reservations. Given the impromptu attitude to romance we’re seeing, operators will benefit from showing real-time availability and keeping tables open as long as possible. Smart brands can also maximise bookings on the day by adding channels like Google Reserve, Facebook and AMBL.

Last-minute booking channels can also help mitigate the effect of those costly no shows – sadly inevitable on big trading occasions such as Valentine’s Day. Our #ShowUpForHospitality campaign found the industry loses a shocking £17.59bn annually due to people not honouring their reservations. To tackle this challenge, user-friendly booking platforms that allow for deposits and provide clear cancellation options are more important than ever. It’s not just about using tech though – we also need to do more to educate consumers on the impact no-shows have on their favourite pubs, bars and restaurants.”

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