Resilience on the menu as Dineplan report reveals key shifts in SA's dining habits

Resilience on the menu as Dineplan report reveals key shifts in SA's dining habits. Picture: File

Resilience on the menu as Dineplan report reveals key shifts in SA's dining habits. Picture: File

Published Feb 26, 2024


South Africa’s restaurant landscape is changing dramatically, with 4.3 million reservations expected in 2024, a 27% increase from the previous year.

Greg Whitfield, creator and director of Dineplan, a leading restaurant reservation platform, recently issued the 2023 Trends Report, which amount to 22.6 million customers at eateries countrywide.

He says local restaurants served 3% more guests on average in 2023 compared to the preceding year, indicating a positive trend in the industry’s resilience and adaptability.

“These results are heartening for the industry, especially considering that 2023 was a year marred with financial challenges for both consumers and businesses alike, as we navigated rising food and fuel prices, inflation and ongoing bouts of load-shedding,” he adds.

To highlight the biggest trends this year, Whitfield unpacks the top four essential recommendations from the report for restaurateurs and guests to consider:

Online bookings preferred

According to Whitfield, they had a 7.5% decrease in phone reservations in 2023. Simultaneously, there was a notable 9.3% jump in online reservations, and the app saw a 50% increase in users and bookings year-over-year.

Diners plan in advance

They also observed that bookings were made, on average, eight days in advance, with Fridays at 6pm emerging as the favoured time for dining out and Thursdays at 12pm being the peak period for planning and making reservations.

Party-sizes increase in peak season

The average party size remained consistent, but December and the festive season saw an increase to six people as families and businesses gathered at restaurants to celebrate and socialise.

Restaurants reap the rewards of reviews

He states that they observed a significant 15% increase in the number of diners leaving reviews after their dining experience compared to 2022, underscoring the changing landscape of diner behaviour, with people sharing more feedback online.

Deposits are becoming the norm

The report highlights a substantial 42% increase in the volume of booking deposits in 2023 compared to the previous year. Impressively, the average no-show rate for restaurants using Dineplan software is a mere 1.6%, attributed to automated booking reminders and prepaid deposits.

Top restaurants revealed

It is revealed that most booked restaurants on the platform in 2023 were JoyJozi in Johannesburg topping the list, followed by Chefs Warehouse at Tintswalo Atlantic and Rosetta’s Bistro Restaurant Kitchen.

“Restaurants play a positive role in both the upliftment of our country through tourism and job creation while providing our local citizens with a platform to socialise and build community. We are pleased to see these positive results year-on-year which highlights the resilience of our restaurants who navigate a tough operating environment which evolving challenges each year. I look forward to seeing how these numbers and achievements change through 2024,” concludes Whitfield.

The Star

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