Cash-strapped Kiwis may be giving up eating out as often, as the cost of living soars to its highest in decades, however new data suggests they are not prepared to sacrifice premium venues on special occasions.
Online reservation platform ResDiary, has analysed diner behaviour and discovered that while venues across New Zealand have suffered a rise in cancellations during frequent interest rates hikes – those least affected are premium dining locations.
It shows that bookings for higher-end establishments of more than $80 per person, are almost double the number of 2021, and diners are making reservations further ahead to ensure they can eat at their preferred location.
“Premium venues account for 6.2% of all bookings in New Zealand, up nearly 50% from a 3.2% share of bookings in 2021,” Rebecca Zeitunian, ResDiary APAC Head of Growth, says. “This is a stark contrast to Australia, where there’s been nearly a 30 percent (28%) decline in premium and fine dining venues since January 2022.”
Seating more than 185 million diners each year, ResDiary uses that data to discover international trends and reveals that New Zealanders continue to want to eat at high-end venues, whereas Australian diners are choosing mid-range venues such as pubs and cafes, now accounting for nearly half (48%) of all bookings, up nearly 10 percent from a 37% share of bookings in January 2022.
When comparing the timing of New Zealand hospitality bookings across a spectrum of dining levels with the timing of interest rate increases, ResDiary data showed the highest hike in November 2022 coincided with a 75% increase in cancellations across all its Cloud-booking service customers, when compared to November 2021. That is approximately 30,000 reservations across the country.
The data shows peaks in booking numbers during months where the RBNZ did not increase the cash rate. In September 2022 bookings increased by 3%.
In January 2023 venues saw a 70% increase in cancellations compared to January 2022 (just prior to the start of interest rate rises). Cancellations for the first half of 2023 show a slow decrease, and in July, only 8% of bookings were cancelled compared to 12.63% in July 2022.
A key stand out trend over the past two years has been an increase in booking lead times with New Zealanders making reservations nearly twice as far ahead. In 2021 people made bookings 5.5 days ahead of schedule, compared to 9.62 days ahead in 2023.
“Our insights indicate that people are either spontaneously eating out at mid-range venues, or saving for premium destinations and booking ahead to ensure that they can enjoy that special meal,” Zeitunian reveals.
The ResDiary Inflation Guide for Hospitality includes advice for restaurant owners on ways to protect their profit margin, how to manage increased supplier costs alongside reduced diner numbers, ways to reduce overhead costs and maximising the benefits of ResDiary’s booking system to automate reminders to mitigate no-shows, as well as a social media marketing guide.
“We are in a fortunate position that the scale of ResDiary gives us insights to help venues large and small. Hospitality has taken a knock since COVID and struggled to regain the dining numbers of pre-pandemic,” Zeitunian says. “So we work hard with restaurateurs to help them harness their passion and skills to not only survive but also thrive as they weather these on-going challenges.”