Hospitality industry poised for booming Easter weekend

Latest insight from leading hospitality technology partner Zonal, reveals that bookings for the Easter weekend are up by 40% compared to 2023 as consumers prioritise spending time in hospitality over the bank holiday weekend.

In 2023, insight from Zonal showed that bookings were up by 14% from 2022. Compared with a leap to 40% from last year, the data illustrates the continued importance of the Easter weekend for the hospitality industry, as it presents a golden opportunity to drive bookings, footfall, and revenue.

Across the four-day period, Easter Sunday remains the most popular date to book, with bookings up by a whopping 75% compared to 2022, and nearly 50% from 2023. However, it’s not just Easter Sunday experiencing a surge in bookings. Reservations on Good Friday are up 32% on 2023, Saturday by 43% and Easter Monday up by 26%, showing the opportunity for operators to drive footfall across the entire weekend.

Zonal’s most recent GO Technology report in partnership with UK Hospitality further demonstrates the important role hospitality plays during key calendar moments, with 44% of Britons wanting to spend time in hospitality venues to celebrate a special occasion. To capitalise on this, operators would benefit from implementing a digital booking system which provides real-time updates on table availability. This enables operators to better manage table covers, staff rotas, as well as facilitate any last-minute changes to bookings to maximise the potential to drive revenue over Easter weekend.

Commenting on the findings, Tim Chapman, Chief Commercial Officer, Zonal, said: “Our insights shows that Easter weekend continues to be an important calendar occasion for the hospitality industry. This year, Easter falls at the end of the month around payday which could provide one explanation for the rise in bookings. Given bookings could continue to increase over the next few days, operators would benefit from showing potential customers real-time availability of tables to make it easier for them to make bookings throughout the weekend and drive additional footfall over the bank holiday.”

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      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.”

      Show Up For Hospitality Logo

      Join the conversation and help us make no-shows a thing of the past

      No-shows cost the hospitality industry an estimated £17.59 billion in lost sales every year. Join our group of passionate industry supporters to help spread the message far and wide and encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality.

      Learn about the campaign

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        Hospitality industry poised for booming Easter weekend

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        The strangest reasons why people cancel pub, bar and restaurant bookings

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          The strangest reasons why people cancel pub, bar and restaurant bookings

          In the world of hospitality, cancellations are an inevitable part of business – but it’s not always for the expected reasons.

          Research from Zonal, looking into booking trends across the UK, has revealed 10 of the strangest reasons people provided for needing to cancel a reservation, including:

          1. “Seagull problems”
          2. “I wanted to ruin my fiancé’s birthday”
          3. “Sorry! Changed our minds after having breakfast!”
          4. “My sister wants to eat at home”
          5. “Na”
          6. “My friend has an unexpected council meeting”
          7. “My kids don’t care”
          8. “Went into labour”
          9. “Still in the queue for the London eye”
          10. “My date cancelled on me last minute”

          Aside from these more unusual reasons, analysis of the data shows that over half (52%) of cancellations occur due to customers making a mistake on the original reservation. For example, over a third of this group said they had booked the wrong time, date, or venue. Other issues included the group size or dropouts (17%) or being double booked (9%).

          The next most common reason for cancellation given was ‘illness’, with 19% of people mentioning this. While 12% said that a change of plans meant that they were unable to turn up to their booking. Nearly a quarter of people didn’t provide any reason for their cancellation – however that is still better than those who don’t cancel their bookings at all and simply don’t turn up.

          These are called ‘no-shows’ and, according to a survey conducted by Zonal in partnership with CGA by NIQ earlier this year, the behaviour is on the rise – doubling since September last year. In fact, 12% of consumers are no-shows, which costs the sector £17.59bn per year in lost revenue and even more once wasted food and staff costs are taken into account.

          Commenting on the findings, Olivia Fitzgerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal, said: “Although some of these cancellation reasons are funny, the issue of no-shows is no laughing matter for the industry. With the most common cancellation reason revealing itself as customers making a mistake with their booking, it’s really important for venues to put solutions in place to prevent this. Making it easy for people to amend their booking or sending timely reminders to customers, are just some of the ways operators can help minimise booking mistakes and in turn, decrease the likelihood of no-shows, which are so damaging to an operator’s bottom line.”

          Zonal launched its #ShowUpForHospitality campaign in 2021, in order to help spread the message far and wide and educate consumers about the damage of no-shows on the sector. Visit the campaign page to find out more and join the conversation.

          Show Up For Hospitality Logo

          Join the conversation and help us make no-shows a thing of the past

          No-shows cost the hospitality industry an estimated £17.59 billion in lost sales every year. Join our group of passionate industry supporters to help spread the message far and wide and encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality.

          Learn about the campaign

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              2023 Christmas bookings up 41% compared to last year

              The latest figures from Zonal show reservations for the month of December are already up by over 40% on 2022, and that bookings for Christmas Day itself are up a whopping 59%.

              The data suggests that, despite the cost-of-living-crisis, the crucial festive season is looking positive for the hospitality sector.

              With no-shows doubling in the last year, however, it’s imperative that operators have booking systems in place that make it easy for customers to cancel if their plans change. The latest figures from our #ShowUpForHospitality campaign, show no-shows creeping up from 6% to 12% over the last 12-months – at a cost of £17.59bn a year to the industry.

              Operators that have implemented booking systems that send out automatic reminders and confirmation communications and which make it easy for customers to cancel or amend their bookings will be best placed to minimise the risk of people simply not turning up for reservations, during this key sales period.

              Commenting, Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal, said: “The increase in Christmas Day bookings is very welcome news for the industry and it’s great that people are keen to spend time in their favourite venues to celebrate. Whilst bookings are up, we’re conscious that people’s plans change and we’re keen to ensure that people can easily amend or cancel their bookings so that hospitality venues don’t suffer no-shows, especially at this important time of the year. The impact of no-shows could be costly but we hope that our #ShowUpForHospitality campaign raises awareness amongst consumers about the importance of honouring a booking and supports the industry in helping them to mitigate the impact of this occurring.”

              Show Up For Hospitality Logo

              Join the conversation and help us make no-shows a thing of the past

              No-shows cost the hospitality industry an estimated £17.59 billion in lost sales every year. Join our group of passionate industry supporters to help spread the message far and wide and encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality.

              Learn about the campaign

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                Hospitality industry poised for booming Easter weekend

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                News: 50% of all Valentine’s Day bookings are made last minute

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                  No-shows in hospitality double from 6% to 12% in 2023

                  The latest research from Zonal and CGA by NIQ, reveals that the number of consumers not showing up for their reservations in pubs, bars and restaurants has doubled since September last year. A significant 12% of consumers are still not honouring their reservations and not informing venues in advance that they need to cancel.

                  The latest findings highlight the financial impact that not turning up has on the industry – costing the sector £17.59bn per year in lost revenue alone and the damage is even greater once wasted food and staff costs are taken into account. Unsurprisingly, restaurants are the most severely impacted, as they experience 27% of the cancellations across the industry.

                  Following the launch of the industry-wide #ShowUpForHospitality campaign that was spearheaded by Zonal in September 2021, the percentage of hospitality customers booking but simply not turning up dropped from 14% at launch to 6% by September 2022. A further 12-months on again, however, and consumers appear to have fallen back into old habits and rates of no-shows have significantly increased once more.

                  Commenting on the findings, Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal said: “These latest insights show that no-shows are still very much an issue facing the industry and it is a costly one. It is important that we continue our efforts to educate customers on the impact that not honouring bookings has on the industry, as well as finding ways for businesses to help reduce the risk of these no-shows occurring.

                  “We launched our #ShowUpForHospitality campaign in 2021 in order to shine a light on this issue, change consumer behaviours, as well as start an industry discussion as to how best to combat this long-standing problem. Whilst the industry has made significant steps to reduce these figures, there is still more work to be done. We want to again bring the industry together to raise awareness of the issue, to share knowledge on how to mitigate the problem, as well as encourage customers to always show up for hospitality and help support their local pubs, bars and restaurants.”

                  CGA by NIQ’s Client Director, Andy Dean said: “This research is incredibly important in highlighting the impact no-shows are having on the hospitality sector, whilst customers might think missing a reservation is only a minor inconvenience for the venue and staff, the wider connotations need to be emphasised to customers, so they appreciate the need to show up for hospitality, support the industry and the workers within it.”

                  Visit the campaign page to learn more, join the conversation and help spread the message far and wide in order to encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality.

                  Show Up For Hospitality Logo

                  Join the conversation and help us make no-shows a thing of the past

                  No-shows cost the hospitality industry an estimated £17.59 billion in lost sales every year. Join our group of passionate industry supporters to help spread the message far and wide and encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality.

                  Learn about the campaign

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                    Hospitality industry poised for booming Easter weekend

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                    News: 50% of all Valentine’s Day bookings are made last minute

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                      Latest figures reveal 11th October as the most popular day to make a Christmas Day booking in 2023

                      However, for pre-Christmas get-togethers the most popular day on which to book is the 29th November, new consumer data reveals.

                      Our latest insights have revealed that 11th October is the most popular day for people making reservations for Christmas Day. Other popular days for making Christmas Day bookings include 5th October (in second place) and 27th September.

                      For Christmas Day the average booking size is for five people, however the research shows that the average booking size over the entire festive period is for 10 guests.

                      When it comes to these larger festive bookings, the most popular dates on which to make a reservation are 29th November in the top spot, followed by the 28th, 27th and the 22nd, according to data from 2022.

                      The findings highlight the importance of promoting Christmas Day offers early in the Autumn and party offers later in the season. Operators should also ensure they have the tools in place to accommodate seamless and simple bookings. According to our research into booking trends, a third of consumers now use social media to book tables and so having a reservation system that can be linked to these online platforms will also benefit operators. Connected technologies and automated systems that send out automatic reminders and confirmation communications will also help prevent no-shows, drive reservations and ultimately boost revenue.

                      Commenting, Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal, said: “At special times such as Christmas, bookings are an important part of the customer journey. With December being the most important time of the year for many hospitality businesses, promoting Christmas bookings and juggling table plans to maximise availability will help operators make the most of the festive period.

                      “Sadly, there are still plenty of people who do not honour their reservations and this continues to be an extremely costly challenge for venues. Our #ShowUpForHospitality campaign revealed that no-shows cost the industry £17.6bn a year, which is staggering. With 58% of people now preferring to cancel digitally, sending reminder emails and making it quick and easy for guests to change their bookings is a good way for operators to reduce no-shows.”

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                          Exciting News from Zonal: Changes to our Executive Team!

                          We are proud to unveil a number of internal changes within our executive team and are thrilled to introduce a new Chief Operating Officer, Chief Customer Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

                          Joel Chapman becomes our new Chief Operating Officer

                          With an extensive career spanning over two decades at Zonal, Joel has been a cornerstone of our account management function. Now, as our Chief Operating Officer, Joel’s experience and vast knowledge of the company will bring valuable customer insights to his new role.

                          This is Joel Chapman, Zonal's Account Services Director
                          Max Gee Photo

                          Introducing our new Chief Customer Officer: Max Gee

                          As Joel Chapman moves into his new role, we couldn’t have found a better successor than Max. A dedicated Zonal employee since 2012, Max has consistently demonstrated passion and commitment to our customers. His promotion to Chief Customer Officer is a testament to his exceptional skills and deep understanding of our clients’ needs.  

                          Kris Rushton is our new Chief Financial Officer

                          We are delighted to introduce Kris Rushton as the new Chief Financial Officer, an exciting move from his previous role as Finance Director. Kris’s rise through the ranks, since joining our family in 2016 as a Finance Manager, showcases his outstanding dedication to Zonal’s success. His expertise will play a pivotal role in our continued growth and achievements. 

                          Kris Rushton Photo

                          Commenting, Zonal Chief Executive Stuart McLean, said:

                          “We are very excited to make these appointments and they are all great examples of what a successful career at Zonal can look like.

                          Joel is a true advocate with an unrivalled passion for all-things-Zonal, while Max has always been a true Zonal star. Kris is a perfect example of someone who demonstrates a fantastic work ethic, living and breathing our core values. All these appointments are well-deserved, and I am very much looking forward to working with them all and the wider exec team, to really catapult Zonal to the next level.”

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                              Father's day proves a gift for hospitality industry with bookings up by 27% on last year

                              Bookings for Father’s Day up more than a quarter this year, while a record number of dads received hospitality gift cards

                              The latest research from Zonal and the hospitality commerce platform Toggle, shows bookings for Father’s Day 2023 rose by 27% compared to last year, while a record number of dads will have been given gift cards for meals and drinks as sales of hospitality gift cards increased by 88%.

                              Compared to pre-Covid, reservations for Father’s Day in pubs, bars and restaurants were up 16%, with the most popular time to book being three days in advance, which accounted for nearly half (54%) of reservations. Many left it until the last minute, however, with 23% booking on the day.

                              In further good news for operators, cancellation rates were low, with four in five honouring their booking. The most frequent reasons for cancelling were given as Covid or chickenpox.

                              At the same time, Toggle fulfilled sales of nearly £700,000 worth of gift cards in the run up to Father’s Day alone this year – an increase of 88% on 2022. In fact, the firm’s digital gift card sales have grown by a staggering 1,900% since Father’s Day in 2019, when total sales were £30,000 – showing how gift cards can generate additional revenue for operators.

                              The sales bring Father’s Day into the top three annual occasions when it comes to gifting, joining Mother’s Day and Christmas.

                              Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal said: “These booking numbers are great news for hospitality operators and show that consumers remain willing to go out and treat themselves and loved ones on big occasions, despite the cost-of-living crisis. Operators can make the most of the Father’s Day opportunity next year by promoting booking in advance, creating special Father’s Day offers and cashing in on a growing gifting opportunity for the industry. Not only does this drive incremental bookings and spend but helps operators to secure advance revenue and positively impact their cash flow.”

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                                  Zonal wins Family Business of the Year 2023 Award

                                  Zonal is celebrating after scooping the award for the Hospitality, Hotel & Leisure Family Business of the Year at the prestigious Family Business of the Year Awards, hosted by Family Business United

                                  Family business across the UK convened in London in the delightful grounds of the Royal College of Physicians to celebrate the contribution that family firms make to the national economy and to crown the winners of the Family Business of the Year Awards 2023.

                                  Family businesses are the engine room of the UK economy and with 6 million family firms employing around 14 million people in all corners of the country, making a massive impact every day.

                                  Zonal was established in 1979 when the late Ralph McLean created the first EPoS system which developed into the current hospitality tech suite used in thousands of businesses throughout the UK and the US.

                                  Today, Zonal remains a family business with Ralph McLean’s son, Stuart now CEO, and four family members on the board. Family values are important to the culture of the company and are at the heart of its relationship with its employees and customers.

                                  Commenting on the award, Stuart McLean said, “Zonal was honoured to win the Hospitality, Hotel & Leisure Family Business of the year at the Family Business United awards. Being a family business is something that we at Zonal are exceptionally proud of and to receive this recognition within the hospitality sector, is fantastic. At Zonal we pride ourselves in being ‘part of the industry’ and this award demonstrates that our commitment to this is paying off. We are more than a tech company, we are, and always will be, proud to be part of the hospitality industry.”

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                                      Easter weekend boom for hospitality industry with bookings up 14% compared to 2022

                                      Bookings up 14% for Easter weekend as consumers defy the cost-of-living crisis to celebrate the first bank holiday of the year.

                                      Our recent figures revealed new insight showing a 14% increase in bookings over the Easter bank holiday weekend compared with 2022.

                                      Brunch proved a big winner this year, with bookings up 98% on 2022. While this still accounts for less than 1% of overall bookings, brunch presents an untapped Easter opportunity for hospitality businesses to drive sales and revenue next year.

                                      Across the four-day period Easter Sunday lunch was the most popular booking among consumers, while Friday and Saturday saw the most dinner bookings. Easter Monday, despite having the fewest number of bookings across the four days, did have the highest increase in bookings (23%) compared to last year.

                                      Overall, the insight reveals that dinner bookings were up 22% over the whole weekend, compared to last year, and lunch bookings rose by 43%.

                                      Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal said: “The rise in bookings for Easter weekend represents a move in the right direction for hospitality and introducing an Easter brunch next year could be a real opportunity for the trade. Operators can tap into the occasion next year by driving sales through advanced promotions, offers and up-selling.”

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