Restaurant and bar operators, get ready: You have about three weeks to prepare for what could potentially be a big New Year’s Eve.
That’s according to reservations site OpenTable, which said it is seeing a significant uptick in bookings to ring in 2022—even when compared to before the pandemic.
New Year’s Eve reservations are up 46% compared to 2019 numbers, according to OpenTable. And, not surprisingly, they’re up a whopping 220% over 2020, before COVID vaccines were widely available.
And the data suggests that reservations may pick up even more in the coming weeks. Bookings are typically highest in the two weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve, with 54% of NYE 2019 reservations coming after Dec. 17, according to OpenTable.
The platform is highlighting “experiences,” noting that half of Americans surveyed said they would prefer an experience over a gift and that 31% are looking for unique ways to celebrate. OpenTable launched a new reservations feature to book special events such as tasting menus, cooking classes, holiday teas, breakfasts with Santa and more.
“After a year of learning how to operate in new normals, restaurants are getting more creative than ever, transforming their spaces to offer the ultimate hospitality experience,” Susan Lee, OpenTable’s chief growth officer, said in a statement.
The uptick in special events bookings, however, is not being seen industry wide.
Eatertainment chain Dave & Buster’s said this week that its Q3 special events business was down 64% compared to 2019 numbers, largely due to the fact that corporate events have not yet returned amid continued pandemic concerns. Dave & Buster’s special events business remained down 59% for the early part of the fourth quarter.
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