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Half of all customers don't use guidebooks

29 July 2005

More than half of the UK consumers do not use a guide book to help them choose a restaurant or hotel, according to exclusive Caterer research.

The NOP survey of 1,000 adults in England, Wales and Scotland found that only 5% of hotel and restaurant customers regularly used a guide book to inform their choice.

Just over one-third referred to a guidebook regularly but the guides were irrelevant to the choices made by 57% of the survey.

Albert Hampson, head of hotel services at the AA, said Caterer‘s figures broadly reflected research by the committee harmonising the five hotel rating schemes.

It found that, while 88% of people were aware of the AA rating scheme, only 38% took it into account when choosing a hotel.

Hampson added that increasing numbers now used the internet for hotel information, with the AA's own accommodation site attracting 6.9 million visits last year.

Peter Harden, co-editor of the Harden's restaurant guides, believed the British were less reliant on guides than the French and the Americans - and he put that down to apathy.

"It is extraordinary that people think nothing of buying a couple of magazines to buy a computer worth £400, yet getting a couple, who spend perhaps £2,500 a year eating out once a week, to spend £10 to £15 on a guide book is very difficult," he added.

Among guide users, the Good Food Guide emerged as the clear favourite, followed by the AA, the RAC (which is soon to be dropped), Michelin and Time Out.

Hampson reckoned the preference list broadly reflected bookshop sales, which are topped by the Good Food Guide, followed by the AA, Michelin, Time Out, and Harden's.

But Harden reckoned London-focused restaurant guides - such as Time Out, Harden's and Zagat - probably fared better than Caterer‘s nationwide survey suggested, as the M25 area represented about 50% of the UK's restaurant market.

Both Hampson and Harden were satisfied that the vast majority (71%) found the guides "fairly" or "very" useful.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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