Almost half consumers (48%) look on social media for eating and drink out recommendations, according to the latest GO Tech report from Zonal and CGA.

The survey also found that 33% of consumers use social media to book tables in pubs and restaurants, and 38% of those who don’t currently do this would consider doing so in the future.

The report suggested that social medias are now a close competitor to Google – which is used by 79% of consumers to search for venues – and highlights an opportunity for operators to drive bookings and footfall.

The report also found that 33% of consumers who don’t use social media to look for venues would consider ordering takeaway or food to be delivered through those channels.

Karl Chessell, CGA director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA, commented: “This research confirms the huge importance of social media and web searches to pubs, bars and restaurants - not just in promoting venues but in generating bookings and sales. With consumers living more and more of their lives on Facebook, Google and other platforms, these are the battlegrounds on which marketers must now compete for brand awareness, loyalty and spend.”

The research also revealed an opportunity for venues to drive reservations via virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant in the not-too-distant future. The devices are increasingly common in UK households – with the research revealing that 50% of consumers now own a virtual assistant, rising to 72% amongst 18- to 24-year-olds.

Nearly half (47%) of virtual assistant owners use their devices for research, including searching for a venue and nearly a third (30%) of consumers said that reserving a table via an assistant would be quicker and more convenient than other methods.

Olivia FitzGerald, chief marketing and sales officer, Zonal, said: “When it comes to bookings, convenience is key, so providing a frictionless booking experience is a priority, whatever the channel. The advent of virtual assistants means that accurate, real-time availability is also becoming a must-have, with bookings increasingly being made on the go. Joined-up tech helps drive reservations and, ultimately, revenue.”

Chessell added: “It’s interesting to see the soaring importance of both visual social media like Instagram and TikTok and virtual assistants, and these are vital places to connect with young adults in particular. Here and elsewhere, engaging and authentic content, seamless integration of booking facilities and a close eye on emerging technologies and trends will be essential in 2022 and beyond.”