SevenRooms’ “Date Night Diner Report” reveals a clear shift in Americans’ expectations as well as dealbreakers when dining out for a romantic evening
NEW YORK (August 23, 2022) – As diners rejoin the restaurant scene this summer, American restaurants are faced with new expectations from diners, including those enjoying a date night. Hospitality guest experience and retention platform SevenRooms divulges these findings and more in its new “Date Night Diner Report.”
The study, commissioned through independent third-party research firm YouGov, alongside data from SevenRooms’ platform and nationwide customers, dives into the portrait of the current American date night, as well as the turn-offs and dealbreakers that would make a date night diner abandon a favorite restaurant and choose another.
The American Date Night
Considering the spike in dining out this summer, it could be assumed that American diners are pivoting away from the typical weekend date night. However, the study revealed that weekend dates still reign supreme – of Americans who go on dates:
- Friday (26%) or Saturday (26%) nights are the most popular
- More than half (53%) want their next date to be a one-on-one date (i.e., a reservation for two).
This rings especially true in major metropolitan cities like New York City and Los Angeles, where tables for two are the most popular party size booked (50% and 56% respectively).*
When it comes to the restaurant they choose, nearly half (46%) say they usually book a restaurant they’ve visited before but could be convinced to go to a new restaurant, and over half (54%) typically book a casual meal where they can stay and talk at the table following their meal.
While the bones of the American date have remained the same – a chance to connect on the weekend and enjoy a meal in a familiar setting – many Americans’ expectations around reservations have shifted.
In recent months, guests throughout U.S. cities have found it more challenging to get reservations at their favorite spots and as a result, over half (53%) of Americans who go on dates say that they do not make a reservation, but still go to a restaurant.
Because of this, walk-in diners and waitlists have become more prevalent in everyday date night planning.
According to data from SevenRooms, in July 2022, 47% of all completed covers at New York City restaurants were walk-ins (a 5% increase from June 2022) and 25% of all completed covers at Los Angeles restaurants were walk-ins (a 5% increase from June 2022).* This trend has continued into the fall, with September 2022 data showing that of all completed covers at U.S. restaurants, 49% were walk-ins (a 6% increase from August 2022).**
This proves even more how crucial it is for operators to incorporate technology solutions that not only make it easy for date night diners to secure a table through an online reservation or digital waitlist, but also show them an experience that will keep them coming back.
Experience & Personalization Still Matter
Today’s diner also expects more out of their date night and are quick to abandon a favorite restaurant if the experience is subpar. According to the survey, date night diners wouldn’t return to a restaurant for a future date for the following reasons:
- If their meals arrived at different times (i.e., more than 10-15 minutes apart) (45%)
- The restaurant was louder than expected and they couldn’t have a conversation (43%)
- The restaurant was sold out of specific menu items they were looking forward to (31%)
The most important part of the night is arguably the experience diners have once they arrive. According to date night diners, the top three experiences or amenities they would want available on a date are:
- Being provided a complimentary dessert or cocktail (33%)
- Earning extra rewards during the meal like loyalty rewards, credit card points or exclusive offers (24%)
- Receiving incentives to return for another date, including discounts or exclusive date night menus (23%).
They also want personalization, including menu items that are in line with their dietary needs or preferences, and that the waiter or staff knows their name from a previous visit. So much so that 33% say that personalized dining matters more to them than getting their food quickly, menu variety, etc., and 43% say they would be impressed if their date booked a personalized restaurant experience for them.
“A resurgence of the American date night is here, and these date night diners are flipping the script on what that experience should look and feel like,” said Allison Page, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer at SevenRooms. “Our research reveals that diners value experiences, additional perks and service points at higher levels than ever before. To provide these experiences, restaurant operators should look to incorporate technology solutions that provide them with the data and information to tailor experiences to each guest’s specific preferences. By doing so, they’ll not only learn how to best cater to each couple, but also how to avoid date-night dealbreakers to create the perfect night out.”
The full report is available at sevenrooms.com.
SevenRooms commissioned YouGov PLC – a third-party, professional research and consulting organization – to poll the views of 1153 individuals, of whom 763 go on dates, who agreed to take part. Fieldwork was undertaken online between July 25-26, 2022. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).
*SevenRooms provided data in regard to reservation preferences in individual cities in the United States, as well as the overall increase in walk-ins across the country. The data is reflective of SevenRooms customer data.
**This press release was updated on October 7, 2022 to reflect September 2022 U.S. restaurant walk-in data.
SevenRooms is a guest experience and retention platform that helps hospitality operators create exceptional experiences that drive revenue and repeat business. Trusted by thousands of hospitality operators around the world, SevenRooms powers tens of millions of guest experiences each month across both on- and off-premise. From neighborhood restaurants and bars to international, multi-concept hospitality groups, SevenRooms is transforming the industry by empowering operators to take back control of their businesses to build direct guest relationships, deliver exceptional experiences and drive more visits and orders, more often. The full suite of products includes reservation, waitlist and table management, online ordering, review aggregation and marketing automation. Founded in 2011 and venture-backed by Amazon, Comcast Ventures, Highgate Ventures and PSG, SevenRooms has dining, hotel F&B, nightlife and entertainment clients globally, including: Hilton Hotels, Harrods, MGM Resorts International, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Jumeirah Group, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, LDV Hospitality, Zuma, Altamarea Group, AELTC, D&D London, JKS Restaurants, Marcus Wareing Restaurants, Dishoom, The Wolseley Hospitality Group, Live Nation and Topgolf.
Bianca Esmond | Director, Brand Marketing