TheFork's Bookatable influences £700 million in diner spending

06 April 2020 5 min. read

As the UK’s restaurant sector looks to turn a corner, following years of stagnation, many in the business are failing to fully engage with online customers. According to research from Strategy&, restaurants with over 50 total user reviews perform better.

Licensed premises in Britain are seeing a steady year-on-year decline, with one 2019 survey finding there had been a fall of 2,920 such venues over the last 12 months. Restaurant numbers in particular took a knock – despite small flourishes in the group restaurant scene.

Even the likes of Prescott & Conran – an upmarket restaurant group co-founded by Sir Terence Conran – and the Michelin starred Marc Restaurant Group have folded under the pressure, while the addition of coronavirus into the mix has compounded the crisis faced by every aspect of the food and drink market.

Despite a number of worrying trends in the sector, a new study has found that dining still makes a major contribution to the UK’s economy. According to analysis of TheFork’s member data by PwC subsidiary Strategy&, the UK restaurant market is worth around £25 billion – and this could be enhanced by adopting new digital platforms like TheFork.

The global restaurant industry is 1.6 trillion and growing

TripAdvisor company TheFork is one of the leading online restaurants reservation platforms in Europe, Australia and Latin America. It boasts a network of more than 65,000 restaurants worldwide, and receives more than 27 million monthly visits from people hungry for new dining experiences.

In order to reveal insights about the size, growth and key trends of the global dining industry, Strategy& analysed the group’s data from 2018, including sector sales and number of restaurant locations at the global level, and in six major markets where TheFork and TripAdvisor do business.

At present, digital platform TripAdvisor helps contribute around £680 million to the UK market each year through its Bookatable platform. However, in other markets TheFork generates a larger impact. For example, in Spain the benefit is £1.2 billion, while France gets an even larger £1.4 billion boost.

In the context of the coronavirus outbreak, digital platforms could prove even more important for the dining sector too – as while lock-down means people cannot set foot in restaurants, online orders for food have exploded in 2020.

Direct and indirect jobs related to the impact of TheFork

The presence of these platforms is also proving good for employment. According to the researchers, TripAdvisor has created or sustained 52,000 incremental jobs in the six countries in scope. This is calculated through the number of restaurant and supply chain jobs generated in the industry by the incremental activity of restaurants attributable to Tripadvisor, which would not have occurred without the platform.

According to the study’s findings, while the UK’s dining scene has been under major pressure in recent years, a recovery is on the cards. Between 2010-2018, the sector endured CAGR of 0%, but the researchers believe that era of stagnation is coming to a close – estimating positive growth from 2018-2022.

However, socio-economic impact generated by TripAdvisor’s incremental impact is still low in the UK. Only the Netherlands performed worse – suggesting many restaurants in the UK are not doing enough to boost engagement through digital platforms in general. If the dining sector is to further push its way out of its current plateau, changing this is key. In order to change this, Strategy& recommended several critical actions for dining businesses to thrive online.

Socio-economic impact generated by TheFork’s impact, by country

Thriving online

First and foremost, having a presence of any kind where diners are doing their research is key. TripAdvisor presences for example do not place a cost on businesses, but lead to as much as a 2% boost to average annual restaurant revenue. Then, owners can further benefit by actually engaging with their diners, and responding to their online reviews. Claiming a restaurant on TripAdvisor generates an estimated $15,000 incremental revenue on average per year for every claimed restaurant. Eateries with 51 to 100 total user reviews see an average 2% revenue spike.

On top of this, while it sounds simple, many groups still are not bookable online. Restaurateurs who subscribe to TheFork's reservation platform to make it easy for guests to book their property see an average of a 10% increase in additional revenue. Meanwhile, paid marketing can further help get a leg up on competitors. Restaurants participating in TripAdvisor Premium capture an average 6 times more incremental revenue than restaurants that have not subscribed.