In 2021, the hospitality sector lost €1.78 trillion due to a lack of tourism caused by the pandemic. All over the world, jobs were axed and many businesses closed their doors. The effect was felt globally and countries that depend on tourism were impacted the most, meaning lots of small businesses were lost forever.
In 2022 the industry opened up once more and the businesses that hung on needed our support more than ever, especially in the UK. Unfortunately, despite the light at the end of the tunnel, a brand-new crisis hit small businesses in the hospitality sector…
Back in July, it was reported that five restaurants a day were shutting down in the UK due to ever-increasing costs. A staggering 569 restaurant businesses filed for insolvency in Q1 of 2023 alone and more than 50 pubs continue to disappear per month, with at least 386 shutting for good in 2022.
These spiralling costs hit the public too, with attitudes towards spending money in restaurants, pubs and cafés changing as a result. A ‘Cost of Weekend Crisis’ has been identified, with 1 in 3 Britons (35%) anticipating a decrease in the amount of time they spend going out socially, such as to bars or restaurants compared to last year – with 3 in 10 anticipating a decrease in the frequency with which they spend money locally. This suggests that the strong social and economic headwinds of the past few years – COVID-19, the energy crisis and cost-of-living – means local businesses in hospitality are hanging by a thread.
A survey ran last year found that 82% of the UK public currently use local businesses. The survey also found that consumers use local businesses more often than national chains. In fact, in the last 12 months, local businesses accounted for 56% of total business use, compared to 44% for national chains.
We decided to look at whether this was reflected in online search behaviour. The data shows that people are searching for small and local businesses near where they live, however they are actually googling for other businesses a lot more: fictional ones. In fact, the UK public is more likely to search for a fictional pub, cafe or restaurant from TV and film than search for a local one they can actually visit.
In the UK, people are searching for ‘Independent restaurants near me’ 590 times per month and ‘Independent restaurants’ 390 times per month. Which isn’t bad, but when you compare that to how often people are googling for a fictional diner under the sea (7,650), it put things into perspective of how little people are really seeking out local restaurants. We compiled a list of some of the most well-known fictional restaurants, cafés and other eateries to see which one is the UK’s favourite. Los Pollos Hermanos came top with a staggering 99,490 searches per month. Bob’s Burgers came second with 7,650 searches per month and the Ice cream shop, Scoops Ahoy from Stranger Things came third with 7,140 searches per month.
When it comes to pubs, there are a fair amount of people looking for ‘Independent pubs near me’ with the UK searching for them 320 times per month on Google. But what if I told you that the UK was more likely to search for a pub from a comedy zombie film or a boozer run by a foul-mouthed yellow man from a fictional city in a different country? Well, Moe’s Tavern from The Simpsons is the most googled fictional pub in the UK, with the public searching for it 4,230 times. The Winchester from Shaun of the Dead came second with 3,620 searches per month and The Leaky Cauldron from Harry Potter came third with 1,470 searches per month.
One of the main areas where the UK public believed local businesses let them down was in a lack of online reviews. 76% of the UK want to see more online reviews for local businesses. Consumers are turning to reviews and social media more often to find companies and they expect to see reviews they can use to make buying decisions.
That’s where The Thoughtful Traveller Day comes in. On 12th of August, we want to encourage more people to leave online reviews for the small, local and independent places that they visit and help other people to discover them too. We want to get more people googling for local businesses than fictional ones.
To celebrate The Thoughtful Traveller Day, we have partnered with some of the most exciting small, independent restaurants, cafés and pubs across the country and created the ‘Famous Review Scavenger Hunt’. A competition that’s designed to get more people leaving reviews, reading them and ultimately discovering small and independent businesses.
This competition offers the UK public a chance to win free meals at some of the best small businesses in the country. All you have to do is find them…
We know that the UK public love to google fictional restaurants, pubs and cafés, so we decided to get their most famous fictional customers and owners to leave reviews for some of the best REAL independent establishments in the country. Once you have found one of our ‘famous fictional reviews” you just have to email us for a chance to win a free meal.
We have devised some clues using emojis to give you a chance at finding which businesses are hiding the ‘famous fictional reviews’. Can you find the real ones amongst the fakes?
1. Using the emoji clues for each city, work out the name of the restaurant, café or pub
2. Search for the business on TripAdvisor or visit their Google reviews page and locate the ‘famous fictional review’
3. Find the codeword hidden within the review and email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the business and the codeword
4. The competition will be running from the 7th – 12th of August and all winners will be notified on 14th of August via email
5. Only one prize can be claimed per person
So, are you up for a challenge that combines your love for local cuisine and fictional worlds?
This campaign encourages people to leave online reviews for small, local and independent businesses. We believe this is a great way to support these businesses and help them reach more customers.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to create a creative campaign for your business, please get in touch with one of our experts at Passion Digital. We would be happy to help you develop a campaign that will help you reach your target audience.