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News & Press / August 30, 2022

The legacy of Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’: Consumer priorities have changed since discount scheme

LONDON (30 AUGUST 2022) – This month marks two years since Rishi Sunak launched the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, aimed at getting people into restaurants during the pandemic. While the scheme had a profoundly positive impact on restaurants during its most difficult time, it acted as a short-term solution to a long-term question – how to keep guests coming back to restaurants. Now, new research by SevenRooms indicates that two years on, Brits’ preferences are vastly different. Analysis reveals that value for money is eighth on the priority list for consumers, indicating that restaurants need to offer much more than a discount.

With record numbers of restaurants now making losses amid the cost of living crisis, the hospitality sector is under increasing pressure to attract customers. The ‘Quest for Five Stars study from the guest experience and retention platform for the hospitality industry, looks at what makes the top restaurants in the UK so successful, based on one of the most important indicators for the quality of a restaurant – guest reviews. SevenRooms identified the most common themes mentioned in online reviews of the 2022 National Restaurant Awards’ Top 50, and the quality of food came out on top – mentioned in more than three in four reviews.

Top 8 most-mentioned topics in reviews of UK’s top restaurants
Quality of food (76%)
Great service (45%)
Friendly staff (34%)
Restaurant atmosphere (23%)
Knowledgeable staff (16%)
Special or extra touches (9%)
Presentation of food (8%)
Value for money (7%)

The research reveals that consumers also prioritise great service (45%), friendly staff (34%), restaurant atmosphere (23%), and knowledgeable staff (16%). Almost 1 in 10 (9%) specifically mentioned special or extra touches, such as birthday cards, a complimentary drink, or a tour of the kitchen being the reason for a great experience. 

Restaurants need to ensure they are resilient in the face of rising bills and diners feeling the financial pinch. Solely offering value for money is no longer enough. With meals out increasingly becoming a luxury, these findings reveal the perfect recipe for getting a five-star rating. 

Danilo Mangano, Managing Director, International at SevenRooms, comments: “Eat Out to Help Out had a significant impact on restaurants during the pandemic – bookings were off the charts in August 2020, bringing in much-needed revenue during a challenging period. Today, however, we’re in a different time. Given that most consumers have fewer pounds in their pockets, they are looking for the whole experience to be memorable and feel worth it. For the majority of British diners, experience is everything. 

Restaurants have a real opportunity this summer to make a more profound impact on their diners. With restaurant reviews crucial for operators, attention must be paid to what diners pick up on and enjoy. This summer provides a chance to wow guests with all the things our research identified as being most important in reviews – standout food, friendly and knowledgeable service, and the little touches that make people feel special. This will, in turn, lead to deeper loyalty and a boost in revenue – making those coveted 5 star reviews all the more likely.

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About SevenRooms
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 neighbourhood 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, The Langham London, 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.

Research methodology 
Data was gathered via desk-based research in August 2022, auditing the 50 most recent TripAdvisor reviews of the top 50 restaurants listed in the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards.

Media contact
SevenRooms
Bianca Esmond | Director, Brand Marketing
e: bianca@sevenrooms.com