Whether you love or loathe Valentine’s Day, you have to admit that America seems smitten with the annual celebration of love. This day, dedicated to romance, has long been one of the most popular for dining out.
According to a survey by OpenTable, a leading provider of online restaurant reservations, restaurants are poised to be busy with diners celebrating love not only on Thursday, February 14, but on the weekend following Valentine's Day. OpenTable diners also indicated that they plan to celebrate love in a big way with a projected check average of $139, which is 63 percent more than the typical OpenTable check average of $85 per couple. The survey results also provided a peek into dating habits and trends related to the busiest holiday for dining out.
“The idea of a romantic Valentine's Day meal often conjures up images of lavish tasting menus, enchanting small plates, and prix fixe menus," says Caroline Potter, chief dining officer of OpenTable. "However, our survey revealed some surprising insights into how people want to celebrate Valentine's Day and an indication of romantic trends to come. Diners prefer a la carte ordering in a classic three-course meal where they can personalize their experience."
Long Weekend of Love
• 51 percent of respondents said they plan to dine out on Thursday, February 14, while 36 percent said they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day on Friday, February 15, or Saturday, February 16.
• 5 percent of diners said they plan to celebrate on Wednesday, February 13.
• 8 percent of respondents plan on dining out more than once for Valentine's Day.
Positive Reviews and Ambience Matter Most
• Respondents indicated that the top three factors in selecting a restaurant for Valentine's Day are positive reviews (34 percent), romantic ambience (27 percent) and service (16 percent).
• Less important attributes included restaurant location (14 percent), special Valentine's Day menus (8 percent) and the quality of the wine list (1 percent).
Most Desirable Menus
• When presented with menu options, diners said they prefer A la Carte (67 percent) over Prix Fixe (33 percent) menus.
• Traditional menus came out on top with the majority of diners (56 percent) saying they would select a classic three-course meal (starter, entrée, and dessert).
• Others preferred sharing several small plates (23 percent), feasting only on entrees (13 percent) or enjoying an extensive menu (8 percent).
Romance and Restaurants Go Hand in Hand
• 21 percent of diners said they would go on a first date on Valentine's Day, while 42 percent said that Valentine's Day dining is reserved for those dating for a month or two.
• The remaining 37 percent of respondents think that dining on the most romantic day of the year should be reserved for those who have been dating at least 3 months.
• 71 percent of diners said that only some PDA is appropriate on the most romantic day of the year, while 21 percent think Valentine's Day is all about the PDA. Still, 8 percent said that PDA in a restaurant is never appropriate.
• Put your phone away! 56 percent of women and 61 percent of men say talking and texting at the table is the biggest dining faux pas a date can commit.
• Being rude to wait staff was the second biggest no-no for 32 percent of women and 28 percent of men.
Published with permission from RISMedia.