Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love in all its forms. For couples celebrating romance, or friend groups celebrating Palentine’s or Galentine’s Day, February 14 is a big day on the hospitality calendar.
But just how are Aussies approaching the big day? From two tops vs group bookings, to peak slots and whether Sydney or Melbourne is dining out later.
SevenRooms has taken a look at the data and found the top trends for Valentine’s Day 2024
- Across Australia, 88 percent of all reservations have been booked as tables for two this year, a nine per cent increase from 2021 (79 percent of tables were booked for two).
- Interestingly, five per cent of all reservations were for large groups of five or more, supporting the rise of the so-called Palentines Day, where friends celebrate.
- The two most popular booking slots for Australian diners are 6:30pm and 6:00pm, earlier than in other global markets like the US, where 7:00pm, 7:30pm and 8:00pm were the most sought-after
- In 2022 and 2023, the most popular slot in Australia was 6:00pm, but so far in 2024, 6:30pm has drawn the most bookings.
- When comparing Sydney and Melbourne, it was actually diners in the harbour city who were placing later reservations in 2024. 27.8 percent of all reservations in Sydney were for after 8:00pm, compared to 24.7 percent in Melbourne. Meanwhile, in Melbourne there were more reservations placed between 7:00-8:00 pm (24.8 percent compared to 22.3 percent).
- Move quickly to avoid disappointment. In the last three years, there has been a notable increase in people booking early. In 2023, 19 percent of all reservations were placed over two weeks prior to Valentine’s Day, more than the 14 percent in 2022.
APAC at SevenRooms General Manager Paul Hadida said the data indicated this Valentine’s Day was set to be a busy one for the hospitality industry.
“There is perhaps no single bigger day on the Australian hospitality calendar than Valentine’s Day. From fine dining to the humble pub, it’s a hugely important day for operators to drive revenue and relationships, during the typical lull after the summer holiday peak season,” he said.
“So far this year, we’re seeing people book earlier than ever before; particularly for peak slots. It’s also interesting to note that it’s Sydney and not Melbourne – famed for the vibrancy of its nightlife – where people are placing later reservations.
“For all the excitement, though, venues cannot simply sit back and rely on the romance of the day. Guests today want more than a meal, they want an experience. That’s especially true while cost of living pressures continue to impact household spending.
In fact, according to SevenRooms research two in three (68 percent) Australians are focussed more on the quality rather than the quantity of their dining experiences, as a result of cost-of-living pressures.
Additionally, Mr Hadida said there was a notable trend of increasing the value for customers and using that as a driver of loyalty. Across Australia throughout 2023 there was a 26 percent YOY increase in reservations completed with prepayments, like an upgrade, experience, special event, deposit, etc,” he said.
“On average, venues generated 25 percent more in revenue from prepayments in 2023 than 2022.
Clearly that showcases the impact of a stellar guest experience, not just from when they sit down in a venue but from the very first touchpoint. This year, venues must make a conscious effort to think about retention, not just acquisition. The former can drive a short-term surge in revenue, but through the latter, they can do so on a more sustainable basis.
“We’re seeing the venues who focus on the guest experience, and tap into personalised marketing automation, driving significant gains against those who don’t. And there is no more important time to provide those exceptional experiences, and build guest relationships and loyalty, than Valentine’s Day.”
Note: Data based on tens of thousands of reservations across Australia using SevenRooms.
Sarah is a freelance journalist with experience across print, digital and audio. After working for Multimedia Publishing as a contributing writer, she has recently joined the team in a part-time capacity for School News AU and AccomNews.