More tables-for-two booked this Valentine’s Day; Overall spending down

February 12, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Current data for Valentine’s Day 2024 suggests a significant change to nationwide spending patterns, with a joint study by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan estimating that a net total of $465 million will be spent, $20 million less than in 2023. The study attributes this 4.1% contraction to growing cost of living pressures.

“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,” said Paul Hadida, GM – APAC at SevenRooms. 

SevenRooms, a guest experience and retention technology, recently released data from the tens of thousands of reservations made using its booking system ahead of Wednesday. Interestingly, the data shows that bookings for tables for two were up 9% on 2021 figures to represent 88% of all reservations. There has also been a 5% increase in bookings for large groups of 5+ people, reflecting the growing ‘Palentines Day’ trend. 

Another surprise from the data is that Sydney, not Melbourne, had a greater amount of late-night reservations, with 27.8% booked for after 8pm compared to 24.7% in Melbourne. Australians also seem to be getting more organised, with 19% of bookings placed over two weeks ahead of the date, compared to 14% in 2022. 

“So far this year, we’re seeing people book earlier than ever before; particularly for peak slots,” said Paul. 

“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.”

The data from the ARA and Roy Morgan shows that, once again, the 18-34 year old category is set to be the highest spending at an estimated $145 million, contracting $70 million from 2023. This is only narrowly ahead of the second age bracket of 35-49 year olds who will spend $140 million this year, roughly equal to in 2023. 

“Two in three (68%) Australians are focussed more on the quality rather than the quantity of their dining experiences, as a result of cost-of-living pressures,” said Paul.  

“We’re seeing a very notable trend in venues increasing the value – and therefore the guest experience – they provide, using that as a driver of loyalty.”

With 70% of respondents to the ARA-Roy Morgan study indicating they will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a romantic celebratory meal, the occasion presents an invaluable opportunity for on-premise trade to capitalise on potential repeat customers. 

“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.

“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.”

Share the content