New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest dining days of the year, when guests seek out special tasting menus and sommeliers break out the bubbles to celebrate.
We looked into last year’s data to identify some of the most interesting trends in New Year’s Eve bookings in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. and help restaurants prepare for the holiday. From cover volume to party sizes and timelines, here’s how our diner network rings in a new year.
How many people are actually dining out on New Year’s Eve? We looked at online covers on the holiday compared to an average corresponding weekday in December (in this case, the 3rd, 10th and 17th). In all countries, there was a big spike in volume for the holiday itself.
In the U.S., cover volume increased by 272% on New Year’s Eve — that’s nearly 3x the covers on an average day in December.
In Canada the spike was almost as dramatic, at 120% — still well over double the average cover volume.
The U.K. saw the lowest percentage increase at 40%, but it’s still significant for restaurants looking at busier-than-usual evening.
We assumed that party sizes on New Year’s Eve would be smaller than on a typical night, with more two-tops enjoying special-occasion menus. In fact, party sizes on the holiday are comparable to the average: the U.S. saw a tiny dip from 3.26 on an average night to 3.23 on the holiday.
The difference was slightly larger in the other countries. In the U.K., the average party size on New Year’s Eve was 2.96, compared to 3.14 on a typical evening; in Canada it was 3.09, compared to 3.25.
Chalk it up to Champagne and good cheer — New Year’s Eve is great fodder for reviews, and they are overwhelmingly positive. We looked at the words most commonly associated with the phrase “New Year’s Eve” in the title content of reviews, and among the most frequently used were “great,” “excellent,” and “service” — and that’s across all three countries.
In the U.K., reviewers also used the words “lovely,” “amazing,” and “atmosphere.” In Canada and the U.S., “experience” ranked near the top, suggesting that both the food and hospitality were noteworthy.
Finally, we were curious about how many people plan ahead for New Year’s Eve. We looked at reservations made for the holiday through OpenTable.com and through the OpenTable widgets on restaurants’ websites and found that while a small percentage of people book weeks out, there’s also a big spike in bookings the week leading up to it.
In all three countries, the patterns were similar: About 30% of reservations were booked on New Year’s Eve, and roughly 60% were booked within a week before the holiday.
With so many diners waiting until the last minute to book, there’s still plenty of time to capture demand. Sign up for our free promo to let them know you’re open on New Year’s Eve, and learn more about how to further fill your dining room this holiday season here.
Stay tuned for more NYE-themed tips on Champagne service and more, from the industry’s top sommeliers. Get ready to raise a glass to another great year!