Diners dish out more dough at Instagrammable restaurants as appetite for social media savvy venues grows

14 June 2023
  • Diners research images of venues, the food on offer, and venue reviews for an average of 40 minutes before making a booking
  • Restaurant-goers willing to pay £28 more at venues that will ‘look good on the gram’ as experience becomes more important as diners eat out less often
  • Social media presence is proving lucrative for the hospitality industry as a third of restaurants now receive most of their bookings through these platforms

New research from Barclaycard Payments, a leading UK payments provider, demonstrates the growing importance of social media to the restaurant industry, as it’s revealed that four in 10 of those polled (41 per cent) believe an active presence on these platforms is now the single best way to judge if a restaurant is worth visiting1.

This comes as Barclays credit and debit card data reveals that consumer spending at restaurants has declined for 10 of the last 12 months, with recent figures showing it was down by -5.3 per cent year-on-year in May, as Brits continue to cut back on eating out amidst cost-of-living pressures and increasingly prioritise a full dining experience over the food alone.

As a result, cost-conscious restaurant-goers are being more selective about the venues they visit. A fifth (20 per cent) are dining out less frequently, but prioritising higher value ‘special’ eateries, while the majority (51 per cent) are willing to pay a deposit to reserve a table at a sought-after location. These considerations are even more important for special occasions, such as Father’s and Mother’s Day, which drive a 42 per cent average increase in bookings.

While diners will pay up to £40 per person for a meal as a treat, they are willing to really put their money where their mouth is if the experience is also aesthetically pleasing – forking out an additional £28 per person, or £30 for 18 to 26-year-olds, for experiences that look good on the ‘gram.

Power of the picture

With eating out becoming a less frequent treat, diners are prepared to really do their research to get the best experience. The average person now spends 40 minutes reading up on restaurants via social media before booking, with one in six (17 per cent) revealing they’ve signed up to a social platform specifically to investigate the food and reviews. A dedicated one in 10 will even spend between 60 and 90 minutes researching before booking the perfect spot.

An active social media presence is also now the best way to judge whether a restaurant is worth visiting according to 41 per cent of adults – a figure that rises to 58 per cent for those aged 18-26. The most sought-after content includes food close-ups (49 per cent), décor (29 per cent) and behind-the-scenes footage (28 per cent).

Facebook (43 per cent), which has an integrated ‘reserve’ button available to venues on its platform, comes out top for researching restaurants, closely followed by Instagram (41 per cent). More traditional review sites also still play a vital role for over a third (37 per cent). Different generations favour different platforms: Instagram (57 per cent) and TikTok (43 per cent) are most popular with 18–26-year-olds, while review sites (47 per cent) and Facebook (40 per cent) are preferred by the Baby Boomer generation (aged 59-77).

Unsurprisingly, the trend to post meal pics is most prevalent amongst younger audiences, with a quarter (24 per cent) of 18–26-year-olds influenced by peers posting restaurant visits and food. Subsequently, food presentation (33 per cent), views from the restaurant (28 per cent) and fancy cocktails (17 per cent) top the Insta-worthy features sought by content creators.

Restaurateurs go behind the camera

Savvy restaurant owners are capitalising on the growing prevalence of social media, with 66 per cent joining platforms such as Instagram and TikTok in a bid to make their venue more appealing to diners. A third (33 per cent) has provided free food to influencers with big social followings; 32 per cent has upgraded their smartphone to capture better quality content; and a quarter (25 per cent) has created ‘how-to’ videos to drive interest. As a result, 80 per cent of restaurants have seen an increase in bookings through social media after putting these methods to the test.

The data also shows that one in 10 diners would be attracted to a venue if they were able to reserve and pay a booking fee beforehand easily via Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, demonstrating the importance of speed and ease when it comes to selecting where to eat.

Kirsty Morris, MD at Barclaycard Payments said: “Social media channels provide a ‘shop window’ for restaurants to market their food and, after a turbulent few years for hospitality, it’s a valuable way of attracting new customers to a venue.

“Our research shows that a quarter of diners look at the menu on social media before ordering, which is just one way the experience is improved for diners, so they can concentrate on getting that perfect, meal-side shot when they’re dining out. More and more venues allow you to book, review menus, and even pre-pay via their social media channels – so it’s a sensible move for those in the hospitality industry to keep sharing content and engaging potential visitors.”

Emerging UK restaurants sink their teeth into Instagram

Barclaycard Payments has conducted research using social analysis to identify 10 fast-growing social media savvy restaurants that are getting their content spot-on. Joia, the first London restaurant by two-Michelin-starred Portuguese chef Henrique Sá Pesso, has seen an increase of over 1,300 per cent in its Instagram followers in the last 12 months as a result of frequent quality content showcasing glossy food shots, trendy décor, behind the scenes videos and enviable London views.

10 fast growing UK restaurants on Instagram2




Growth in Instagram followers














Binks Yard




Sakku Samba












Doh Glasgow




Scamp Glasgow







Restaurateurs looking to improve their payments offering can do so by partnering with a provider like Barclaycard Payments, which can help them access a wide range of digital services, from pay-at-table technology to providing a quick and secure payment experience for customers. More information is available at: barclaycard.co.uk/business/accepting-payments/corporate-payment-solutions/industry-focus/leisure-and-entertainment


Notes to Editors

About the data

¹Research conducted by One Poll of 2,000 UK Adults who regularly use social media and eat out at restaurants, and 200 UK restaurant owners in May 2023.

210 fast growing restaurants on Instagram based on growth in follower count. Calculated from research of over 40 upcoming restaurants in the UK sourced via desk research, and then analysed using software provided by influencer marketing platform HypeAuditor, to determine growth of account followers in the last 12 months.

For more information, please contact: Polly Ewell at polly.ewell@barclays.com  or +44 (0) 7882 088 493

About Barclaycard Payments

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit. We processed a record 1,291 transactions per second on the 23rd of December 2022, and across 2022 processed over 8.7 billion card payments in total. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.