With outdoor dining returning across the UK from today, new research commissioned by TheFork.co.uk, Europe’s leading online restaurant booking platform, reveals 13 million celebratory Brits are set to join the al fresco frenzy, whilst three quarters (75%) are apprehensive diners, swapping FOMO for FOGO (Fear of Going Out) citing little confidence in COVID-safe restaurant set-up (42%) and lack of al fresco dining inspiration (13%), as the top reasons holding them back from booking a restaurant reservation next week.
To combat COVID safety concerns and offer outside dining inspiration TheFork, a TripAdvisor company (previously Bookable), has announced the appointment of Al Fresco, Head of Outdoor Dining. Formerly known as Anna Barnett, a foodie influencer and culturally plugged in gal-about-town, has officially changed her name for the month of April to work in partnership with the restaurant booking platform.
Anna plans to build Brits confidence by bringing awareness of TheFork’s Covid-badge, displayed on a restaurants profile page to reassure concerned diners of the safety measures they have put in place, and also to inspire the 16 million Brits experiencing FOGO, to wrap up and embrace the elements with al fresco dining throughout this important comeback month for hospitality.
With temperatures set to plummet ahead of al fresco April, Brits are set to brave the weather as TheFork bookings are up 88% ahead of reopening. Despite this, 38% of cautious Brits revealed unpredictable British weather has held them back booking an outdoor banquet, whilst almost one in five (16%) are concerned their food will go cold being outside. To squash these concerns, TheFork has integrated both ‘Alfresco’ and ‘Outdoor Sheltered’ restaurant filters into its platform so diners can be certain they’ll enjoy an al fresco experience whatever the weather. Other hang ups leading Brits to skip out on outdoor dining experiences next week include overgrown lockdown hair embarrassment (10%), and having no motivation to dress up to leave the house (6%).
Whilst there is some unease amongst Brits, 35% of those who have booked an open-air dinner are being labelled ‘restaurant-reso-grabbers’ after admitting to making multiple al fresco reservations which they may cancel to hedge bets and keep options open.
Al Fresco, Head of Outdoor Dining at TheFork, formerly known as Anna Barnett said, “There is finally lockdown light at the end of what has been a challenging year for us all, with hospitality being hit the hardest. Al fresco April marks a monumental milestone in our step towards a bit of normality and recovery. I’m so excited to be working with TheFork throughout April to offer guidance, reassurance and inspiration via their website, app and social channels, to those who are nervous about venturing out when restrictions ease.”
As part of the campaign, TheFork has partnered with The Lanesborough, to curate the ultimate ‘feast al fresco’ menu, boasting dishes that are best served with a side of fresh air including, Imperial Oscietra caviar to start, alongside pan fried seabass for mains – finished by the ultimate palette cleanser for desert; a pannacotta with passion fruit. Available to order throughout the month of April from 12th, the exclusive menu is only available for diners who book via TheFork.
Patrick Hooykaas, TheFork, Regional Managing Director added, “With April bookings up by 88%, it’s clear that Brits have a healthy appetite when it comes to embracing the road back to normality. Consumer confidence is key in building back trust post lockdown and we hope that by appointing our new Head of Outdoor Dining, to guide the public through al fresco April, we can see the hospitality industry bounce back quickly.
Ahead of restrictions easing, we have also integrated both ‘Alfresco’ and ‘Sheltered’ restaurant filters into TheFork platform, as well as each eatery listing its Covid safety practises on the site, providing both peace of mind for concerned customers and enabling diners across the UK to find the perfect open-air setting from 12th April.”